Democracy and the Challenge of Change: A Guide to Increasing Women's Political Participation

Guide / Training Material

February 16, 2011

Democracy and the Challenge of Change: A Guide to Increasing Women's Political Participation

Drawing on its 25 years of experience in the women’s political participation field, NDI has released a new guide for democracy practitioners to help them develop and carry out effective programs to bring more women into government and politics. 

“In the modern world, women’s empowerment is not merely a goal, but a cornerstone of democratic growth,” NDI Chairman Madeleine K. Albright writes in the foreword of the guide. “This is because women raise issues that others overlook, devote energy to projects that others ignore, reach out to constituencies that others neglect, and help societies move forward together.”

The guide, Democracy and the Challenge of Change: A Guide to Increasing Women’s Political Participation, focuses on programs in the areas of citizen participation, elections, political parties and governance. It presents the case for increasing women’s participation and provides information on best practices and strategies to move that goal forward.

The handbook also offers case studies, check lists and additional reading for each of the areas highlighted, as well as a general list of factors or tactics to consider when designing a program. They include:

  • Seek 50 percent women’s participation in all training programs, conferences, workshops and study missions;
  • Acknowledge the socio-political reality that women face in their countries and the potential backlash they may encounter from participating in a workshop or training program;
  • Recognize the important leadership role – formal or informal – that women already play in their families and communities through a discussion of unofficial leadership roles that prepare women for public office;
  • Conduct training programs for men and women on gender equality to encourage them to view each other as peers and help increase cooperation;
  • Create opportunities for women who live outside of the capital or major urban areas who have less access to training resources; and
  • In political party consultations and training programs, address the need for parties to reach out to women as voters, candidates, campaign staff and party members, and create policies and practices that meaningfully include women at every level of party membership.
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