Mobilizing Political Participation
Through our networks, curriculum, and trainings, WLP inspires women to become politically engaged and helps them hone their activist skills.
Workshops for emerging political leaders
Promotion of women in politics
Youth workshops on democracy and civic activism
Election monitoring from a gender perspective
The barriers to women participating in politics can be subtle but extremely difficult to surmount. While laws may technically protect a woman’s right to vote, press for legislation, or participate in government, politics remains largely a male domain due to customs and the persistence of traditional gender roles. Moreover, the same obstacles that impede women’s advancement—fewer employment opportunities, lower levels of education, family responsibilities, and restrictions on when and where to travel—also hinder women’s ability to become politically engaged.
Women's political participation is essential to overcoming the barriers to women’s advancement. WLP’s political participation activities increase women’s knowledge about political activism, and our locally-led trainings motivate women to become more involved in their communities. Our goal is to bolster women’s practical skills for engaging in political campaigns, while at the same time raise awareness about women’s political legitimacy and their indispensability to good governance.
Political Participation Curriculum
WLP develops culture-specific political participation curriculum for experienced advocates, grassroots women, and youth. WLP’s handbook Leading to Action was produced in collaboration with our partners to increase the capacity of women to become politically engaged as democratic and participatory leaders—whether as candidates, organizers, or members of the electorate. The manual covers a wide range of topics, including crafting political messages, building constituencies, working in coalitions, writing press releases, and the pros and cons of gender quotas.
With our Arabic-language partners, we are developing an Arabic-language edition of our Leading to Democracy: A Toolkit for Women in Transitioning Societies, which explores definitions of democracy, democratic decision-making, and formalizing political institutions. The toolkit takes a step back from relying on elections as a litmus test for democratic reform, and guides readers and workshop participants through a series of lessons that examine different ways to foster democratic culture, citizenship, and institutions. In addition, our partner in Morocco, ADFM, has developed an exciting new resource for youth, based on WLP’s political participation curriculum. Youth for Equality and Participatory Democracy is being used in trainings with young leaders working on democratic reforms.
- Leading to Action: A Political Participation Handbook for Women (manual)
- Leading to Democracy: A Toolkit for Women in Transitioning Societies (manual)
- Youth for Equality and Participatory Democracy: A Guide for Leadership Training (manual)
Local Workshops and Training of Trainers Institutes
WLP conducts hundreds of grassroots political participation workshops and training of trainers institutes (TOTs) every year with our partners, their constituencies, and other stakeholders in the global women’s rights movement. Skills and strategies range from consensus-building to the nuts and bolts of message development and press interviews. Many participants have already attended a WLP leadership workshop and are seeking tools to become more politically active. Our political participation training builds women’s skills and networks with a focus on political processes. As a result, hundreds of WLP’s political participation trainees go on to run for office, advise and support politicians, and launch campaigns for legislative and political reform.
Ms. Amal Al Rfou’a, a former Jordanian Parliamentarian (2010) and WLP trainer, sums up what so many participants have shared with WLP about the challenges facing women who wish to be politically involved, and the effect of WLP’s training:
I live in Tafileh, which is located in the south of Jordan and is considered an underprivileged area. Most women have no knowledge of issues impacting their personal lives and do not play an active role in their communities. This is because men are not accepting of women in any position, in any sector, but rather see us as competitors. Some men I spoke with said that women’s participation is the root cause of the increasing the rate of unemployment for men, as well as their decreasing wages. I cannot forget these words. These words motivated me to seek out civil society organizations to empower me and to empower other women. I committed myself to sharing my experience.
The training content of WLP’s political participation curriculum was very helpful to me as I trained other women. The different case studies showed successes and inspired me forward. I influenced others with the political skills I gained. Having a position as a parliamentarian with a civil society background put me in a position to serve the whole community, especially women.
Serving women is the best investment a country can make in the development process. I committed myself during my time in parliament to speak on behalf of women and advocate for measures to improve their lives, especially those in rural areas. It is a responsibility I bear in my position to promote our rights.