Young Women and Political Leadership



Young Women and Political Leadership

Welcome to the circle on Young Women and Political Leadership. In this circle, iKNOW Politics members are invited to share their ideas and experiences about the participation of young women in politics and public life. It would be interesting to hear what iKNOW Politics members think are are the main obstacles for young women to participate in politics? Are there any effective measures to overcome such barriers and to engage more young women in politics?

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woodhullInstitute's picture

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melkareh's picture

Hello all, I have started this discussion to be able to get you opinions on the role,strengths,weaknesses, and challenges of young women affiliated to parties in their representation and involvment in the political life. I am here more concerned about when to draw the line between being a woman running for office and being a woman "representing a party" running for office. How would being a woman affect our decisions in our political involvments? Women who are elected without quotas are reluctant to the idea. How do we understand this? I hope to get you insightful comments on this issue for in my opinion , it could help us understand the difference between struggling for women's causes and striving for general causes as Women! Thanks, melkareh PS: I Have also a discussion circle on the topic if you would like to join it.

Petro Nel's picture

I am not a young woman - but work with many women within my party.  My viewpoint is - when you join a specific political party - the party and the party's mission and vision comes first. This should pave the path for all your political decisions first and foremost. Being a woman and the special way you think and react to situations and problems already ensures that you always have women's interests at heart without ''showing'' it off to the world.

Iqbal Tamimi's picture

I believe, regardless whether you are a woman or a man, if you plan to be an active partner in democracy, you have to consider equity and justice as your priority, first and most of all in any case debated, regardless of  gender . After all, women are mothers, and they fight for the best for  their sons and for their daughters, which means they should never consider tackling only feminine issues or focussing only on women complaints. Regardless if they were in through the quota system or through free elections, or as part of a political party or as an independent candidate it does not matter. 

Surely you would know the policies by each political party in your country and you can anticipate the amount of support or interest they have to improve women's lives. If all the political parties available show little interest in women's issues, you better start thinking of creating a new party that respects at least half the nation.

Iqbal Tamimi

bsalimova's picture

Entering the realm of politics is hard for any woman, but it is much harder for a young woman. Young women, facing cultural barriers and stereotypes associated with age and gender, usually end up in a disadvantaged socio-economic position. For instance, such women may be deprived of equal access to education, specifically secondary and tertiary, have lesser social status than their male relatives and friends, be limited in professional opportunities, etc. Such stereotypes are particularly highlighted in politics and public life and are very hard to overcome. Young women might not only lack support of their families for their participation in politics, but also face criticism and serious repercussions from society in general. In some cases, such resistance to women’s political participation results in violence against women, including brutal beatings and even killings. Some sad examples include the killing of Annaliza Abanador-Gandia in the Philippines, continuous threats and violence against Malay Joya in Afghanistan, beating of Asha Ali by three men in Kenya, etc. Considering these obstacles and barriers to women’s political participation, young women desperately need support of the institutions and individuals that provide them with networking opportunities, resources for successful political campaigns, and trainings for strengthening their skills. I would like to highlight the importance of professional networks and platforms that connect women leaders and their supporters around the world. A young woman candidate who has strong connections with women leaders in her country and even her region can learn from such women and rely on their support and safety net in the road to political participation. Creating networking opportunities for young women is the key to opening the doors of politics to them. It would be great to hear the experiences of other young women wishing to advance in politics and their thoughts on what would help them to achieve their goals. Sincerely, Bahar Salimova

Sarah Nyamvula's picture

Like anything else, knowledge of a subject gives huge advantage. In Politics and especially for women both young and old, we need to be involved in Politics at an early age. Being involved in politics does not only mean contesting for a Civic or Parliamentary positions. I am in my late 40's and a politician in the coast of Kenya. I only came into politics 5 years ago, but I wish I had been involved a while ago. In the recently held general elections, I was a contestant in the Civic elections. My coming in 2nd in the election surprised many people, because they were sure I was going to win. But such is politics. I hope, all being well I will contest again come 2012. Sadly, I will be over 50, which I am very sure will be an issue for a clever opponent. Young women all over the world should be involved in Politics. They should never wait until they are in their late 30s or 40s. Just like our opposite gender does not wait. We have more than 5 male legislators in the current parliament who are under 35 years old. If they do well, we will see them coming through to lead Kenya. The 3 top men who lead my country today got into politics in their mid-20s. The current Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs in Kenya, Martha Karua is in her 3rd term as a Member of Parliament. We can imagine she joined politics in her 3o's. And we must remember you just don't become an MP or Counselor overnight. You must be involved with in village or community politics first. I am an advocate for women’s rights. I started my work when I was in my mid-20's, and today I am still fighting for children and women's right. Until we get the results we want, we should never give up. Our number will only increase if women have a good succession plan, even in politics. Now we know, we need to get involved in politics early, like our counterparts do. I know there are heavy sacrifices to be made for a woman getting into politics, but we have to act SMART Sarah Nyamvula

Laxmi Tamang's picture

Dear Sarah,

Warm greetings from Sydney.

Nice reading your comments about the women involvement in politics. It has given me a food for thoughts. I'm in my late 30s and would like to involve in the politics immediately after I finished my PhD. I've been just enrolled in PhD from this year. It seems that it will be too late for me to get involved in the politics. Unfortunately, I don't have any background of politics except being a member of political party student's union when I was in my high school. Professionally, I'm a public health professional and involve in advocating for women's health. I've realized that without being involving in the politics nothing can be done to make our voice heard. So, I decided to involve in the politics. Due to the social inclusion issues and priority to have candidature and women from marginalized and disadvantaged groups in different sectors including politics I'm hoping to go through it. But as you said it is not an easy task and people will surprise if we pop up to the politics all of a sudden. So, to avoid this on and off I do write articles in the national newspaper about the subject matter in which I'm expertise on i.e. maternal and reproductive health. I've also heard that it is even difficult for unmarried women to get involved in the politics. Do you think so? Australia current prime minister is also a woman. May be I've to learn from her. Once again thank you for your insightful suggestions and comments. Warm regards. Laxmi Tamang

iKNOW Politics's picture

This is a space for NDI's Regional Young Women's Leadership Academy participants to share their experiences, strategies, challenges and successes in entering the realm of politics, and help to build a network of young women political leaders in the Middle East and North Africa. We are looking to hear your personal stories and suggestions on how to promote young women in politics. Please see the video from the academy here:

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