In preparation for upcoming elections to East Timor's Constituent Assembly, the United Nations Transitional Administration in the territory (UNTAET) began today a programme designed to bring more women into the political process.
During the month of May, 169 potential candidates will receive training in political participation, decision making and basic knowledge of running for an office. The first 35 participants began a three-day training course today.
The launch of the programme follows the announcement by UNTAET chief Sergio Vieira de Mello of measures to encourage female participation in the 30 August vote to the Assembly, which will prepare and adopt a constitution of an independent East Timor. On 16 March, Mr. Vieira de Mello set the stage for the first democratic vote in the territory when he signed a regulation on elections and registration of political parties.
Civil society organizations all over East Timor have been asked to help in identifying women who may be interested in running as independent or political party candidates. The participants in the workshops, which are organized by UNTAET's Gender Affairs Unit with the help of trainers from the UN Fund for Women (UNIFEM), come from all 13 districts and represent a large variety of organizations. Those who decide to run in the elections will receive additional training in the coming months, the UN mission said.