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Women in Politics

CDI's 2009 Women in Politics Course | Canberra | December 7-11

The second CDI Women in Politics (WiP) course was convened by Ms. Monica Costa and conducted from 7 to 11 December 2009 at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Inaugurated in 2008, The WiP course aims to build the capacity of social and political actors in the region with the goal of improving women’s political representation. It is particularly designed for women intending to enter national politics in the Pacific Islands, whether as a candidate for elected office, a political party organiser, or similar role in the democratic process. To achieve this, the course assists participants from the Asia-Pacific region to identify strategies to get more women elected in their countries. The course equips participants with the tools and skills to engage in national politics and leadership at the highest level.

The course covers the following key issues for women in politics:

  • political parties’ role in promoting gender equality in politics,
  • electoral and political reforms to improve women’s political representation, including temporary special measures,
  • influencing, lobbying and networking,
  • candidate training (eg. election campaign, resource mobilization including campaign fund raising), and
  • the role of different actors (government, parliament, civil society, and academia).

The WiP course offers a unique opportunity for participants to learn and discuss Australian experiences of and practices in promoting gender equality as well as share their own experiences. The course explores avenues to translate this knowledge into the reality of Asia-Pacific contexts.

18 participants from 10 countries, including all CDI focus countries, participated in the 2009 WiP course. Approximately half of the participants held positions related to politics while the other half was engaged in civil society. Participants include both people that expressed interest in running for politics and those that want to be engaged in advocacy for change in women’s representation in politics.  This year, for the first time, a UNIFEM staff member from the Timor-Leste country office participated in the course as an observer and support to the conven18er. Close to ninety applications for twenty positions were received by CDI from 17 countries for the 2009 WiP course.

Key topics covered in 2009 included:

  • The context of women’s engagement in politics and its progress in the region.
  • Getting elected and re-elected
  • Leadership
  • Electoral systems and reforms affecting women
  • Lobbying/networking
  • Role of political parties and politicians
  • Government, NGOs and academia’s contributions

The course drew on a range of experts including Members of parliament, political party staff, private sector and academics. For example:

  • Ms Anna Burke MP, Deputy Speaker (Labor) opened the course and set the scene on issues of women’s participation and representation in politics in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Ms Ruth Webber MP (Labor), Senator Marise Payne (Liberal), and Ms Meredith Hunter (Greens) discussed different approaches to gender equality within political parties and drew on personal experiences of getting into politics and getting elected and re-elected.
  • Ms Amanda Rishworth MP (Labor), as the Chair of the Australia/Pacific Parliamentary Friendship Group, led a session on steps for success in politics and brought the discussion on national action plans to a close.

These presentations were a central attraction in the training and were received with significant enthusiasm by the participants. The personal stories that these politicians brought to the course operated as a source of inspiration for participants, particularly aspiring politicians.

At the end of the course, participants were required to prepare and present country action plans, outlining practical strategies to improve women’s representation in politics at both national and sub-national levels. Participants were asked to consider how they and their organisation could contribute to improve women’s representation. The standard of these presentations was high and participants mentioned to the convener that the opportunity to share had been important for them.

The course also created a unique opportunity for participants to build connections and networks between the participants and their Australian counterparts, be they female MPs, political party members and staff, journalists, or public servants.

The 2009 Women in Politics course built on the success of the inaugural 2008 course. The diversity of experiences brought to the course by the participants, both in terms of their country and sector of expertise was a key element for the success of this course. Overall participants were genuinely interested in learning, sharing and translating this knowledge into practice on their return.  There was a high level of affinity between the participants, and it is expected that some of them will maintain contact and support each other. Several country representatives asked CDI to deliver a similar course in their own countries.

The course produced the following results:

  • built a network among the participants,
  • strengthened networks with Australian parliamentarians and political parties;
  • developed country level action plans.

The support and involvement of the Australian political parties and their parliamentarians was also critical to the success of the course. Their contributions were inspirational to the participants. CDI thanks the parties for their support and active participation in the various sessions.

Click on the links on the side bar of this page to access more material and details on this course including the full report:

CDI's 2009 Women in Politics Course | Canberra | December 7-11
Full Course Report
Course Program
List of Participants
CDI's 2008 Women in Politics Course
CDI's Gender & Political Leadership Programming Page
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The Australian National University

School of International, Political & Strategic Studies

The Centre for Democratic Institutions (CDI) supports the efforts of democracies in the Asia-Pacific region to strengthen their political systems. It provides training, technical assistance and peer support for parliamentarians, political party organisers and emerging leaders in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, with a particular focus on Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji. CDI sponsors research and publications on political change and democratic governance.

Established in 1998, CDI is funded by the Australian Government. The Centre is based in the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.

© Centre for Democratic Institutions, The Australian National University. Please direct all comments to cdi@anu.edu.au. Last modified 28 August, 2014 CRICOSProvider Number: 00120C Web Counter



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