Mentorship programs to support candidates and elected female MPs beyond training and study tours



Mentorship programs to support candidates and elected female MPs beyond training and study tours

"Whenever I am asked what the missing link is between a promising businessperson and a successful one, mentoring comes to mind; if you are looking to make your way in business, try to find a mentor. If you are in a position to share the skills you have learned, give something back by becoming a mentor yourself.” CEO VIRGIN

In the private sector, mentorship programs have been proven successful in creating a new generation of leaders.  The public sector learnt from these successes and copied them by organizing its own mentorship programs. Consequently, some parliaments followed suit by providing mentorship programs for incoming MPs or programs that allow people to shadow an MP in their daily functions to better understand the work of the Parliament and of that particular MP and their constituency, such as in the UK. 

Given the complexity of a Parliament, candidates and first time Parliamentarians are keen to get advice from those who have previous experience with particular issues.  Mentorship programs have been organized at national and regional levels. At the national level, Parliaments are exploring new ways of guiding young MPs through the complex structures of Parliament.  At the regional level, Parliaments are providing mentorship projects, which go beyond the traditional study trip tours, through online networks and intensive collaboration between parliamentarians.

Q1: Have you ever been part of a mentorship program (as mentor or mentee)? If so, could you share your experiences?

Q2: Do you know of successful mentorship projects targeting women candidates and parliamentarians. Why were these projects successful? 

Q3:  Are ‘in-person’ meetings critical for a successful mentorship programme or could online mentoring be just as useful?


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iKNOW Politics's picture

iKNOW Politics interviews Ikram Ben Said, Founder and President of Aswat Nisa (Women's Voices) during the 2014 NDI Madeleine Albright Luncheon during which Aswat Nisa was awarded the Madeleine Albright Grant for their project "The Political Academy for Women". To watch the video please click here.

Roxana Silva Ch.'s picture

Very interesting discussion and there are now several countries discussing the need for mentors for candidates and authority figures. This is the case in Ecuador.


In my case, I received training to become a mentor about 6 years ago and then was a mentor to students. Due to this experience, as Leader of my country’s National Commission on Political Organizations EMB, I sponsored gatherings and meetings with candidates and women, who were both candidates and authorities to discuss their experiences with new people running in the elections last February in 2014. Subsequently, through the portal, we are generating forums and virtual debates called Participatory Citizenship to link information to specific issues that are generated in direct action or on a day-to-day basis. Tomorrow in Ecuador, we will officially launch the virtual Participatory Citizenship Network and I invite you to follow us on Twitter: @roxanasilvachor @vototransp,,, We must be clear that a mentor is not a spiritual guide, a mother or father but is a person who, from his experience, provides support for people who are following their student or professional path to increase their potential and their skills and, converge a limitless number of knowledge and practices. I think it is feasible to be a mentor either face-to-face or by means of virtual mentoring. Best regards ROXANA SILVA @roxanasilvach

(original comment in English)

Salma Nasser's picture

Congratulations on the launch of the Virtual Participatory Citizenship Network. This is most definitely an excellent use of innovation to support citizens' engagement!

Falguni Rajput's picture

I was a mentee to Prof. Rajeev Gowda of Indian Institute Of Management ,Bangalore India , where we were a part of  India Women In Leadership Program. 26 women from different states participated . we attended in house lectures on Policies,  personality development  , Time Management , Threats , field visits . Through this program we got practical experience of MP's during our visit. Mock Parliament to know and learn the Parliamentary Proceedings at Lok Sabha . I was also invited by UNDP to Delhi, India for a round table conference on Enhancing women's voice and participation in political sphere.My opinion on 'in person' meetings may be critical towards participation of more women but will be more effective than online mentoring.  

Salma Nasser's picture

Dear Falguni,

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We would like to hear more about the India Women in Leadership program as well as your thoughts on which sessions/topics you found the most useful.


iKNOW Politics

Annie Serrano's picture

In 2010, I served as Adviser to the Grupo das Mulheres Parlamento Timor-Leste (GMPTL) or the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus of Timor-Leste. Señora Maria Paixao Costa, the Vice-President of the National Parliament, was GMPTL President and so I supported her to implement the group priorities, of which there were two: pass the Law against Domestic Violence and call a national conference to tackle the issues of high teenage pregnancy and high maternal mortality.

I took up the role of coach or mentor to Señora Paixao. It basically involved one-on-one consultations or meetings between us prior to her presiding over a GMPTL meeting or a dialogue with stakeholders and constituents. Our meetings enabled her to sound off her ideas and plans and gave me the opportunity to share with her my thoughts and advice based on my prior experience in policy making, facilitating group process, or in advocacy and networking.

Our collaboration was rather short-lived because her terms as GMPTL President was ending and my assignment in National Parliament was temporary.  Nonetheless, our collaboration lead to the passing of the Law against Domestic Violence in 2010 and the building of a national consensus, among others, to provide age-appropriate sex education in schools as a way to advance reproductive health and reduce teenage pregnancy. Of course there were other factors and players that altogether contributed to these positive outcomes. I think that our preparatory meetings served to help Señora Paixao to validate her ideas and plan ahead. These must have made her feel more confident in carrying out the tasks ahead of her. Senora Paixao was a guerilla member during the independence struggle against Indonesia. After completing her term as MP, she was appointed Ambassador to Portugal.

Salma Nasser's picture

Thank you for sharing your personal experience as a mentor. We would love to hear more about this and about your ideas for the most effective mechanisms for mentorship programs.

Elaine Hémond's picture

Hello, last year during the pre-election period (municipal), I accompanied around twenty females candidates in the context of co-development circles, each comprising between 4 and 6 women. Given the remoteness of the participants in the 4 corners of Québec, everything was done remotely. We had virtual conferences (lasting 1h30) every 15 days through a phone porthole provided by a university. In addition, each circle also had a Facebook page accessible to members only. Exchanges by virtual meetings continued daily on this page. We had signed a confidentiality agreement. I must say it was a success. Not all have been elected mayors or councilors, but all benefited from the exchanges. 

Élaine Hémond, Québec

(original comment in French)

AmberRose's picture

I am on the Board of Directors of a 7 month long training program for women candidates in California, called Emerge California. It is a state affiliate of Emerge America and there are affiliates in over a dozen other states. Emerge CA offers a service to graduates of the program that allows them to consult with and seek guidance from a panel of experts  in the political profession at any point either during the program or after they have graduated from the program.  The panel is called the "Campaign Advisory Team," or "CAT" for short.  The meetings are confidential and the experts cover issues areas from fundraising, polling, campaign related laws, and overall strategy - whatever the particular program member is seeking advice on.  They can seek guidance on deciding whether or not to run, or in the middle of a campaign, or after a loss to determine next steps (or any combination of these). While this service is not as hands-on as typical mentoring, many Emerge CA graduates say this resource is their most valued aspect of the program. There does not seem to be a qualitative difference between the meetings that are conducted in person versus over phone conference. 

Amber Maltbie

Kabayare's picture

There are allot of of training programs in Somalia to support and empowering for women to develop their career.