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Changing the Face of Politics: WDN Celebrates International Women’s Day with Members of Women’s Parliamentary Caucuses
Washington, DC– Around the world, women’s parliamentary caucuses are advocating for the inclusion of the views of women in policy development and legislation. These caucuses have become vital in helping women amplify their voices and influence in legislative bodies and in developing support networks and mentorships. The women leading this charge are changing the face of politics in their communities and countries.
From March 2-6, 2015, WDN celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) by hosting its annual IWD conference and Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Awards ceremony in Washington, DC. The conference brought together women parliamentarians who are active caucus members from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jordan, Mongolia, Peru and Tunisia.
The week began with two-days of intensive workshops on democratic governance, led by International Republican Institute (IRI) staff as well as experts on best practices in constituent outreach, legislative drafting, governance, coalition building and best practices using social media. The week also included meetings with IRI board member Senator Kelly Ayotte; Vice-President of Programs, Planning and Evaluation at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) Barbara Haig; and Rhode Island State Representative Patricia Morgan, who all stressed the importance of the work that women are doing to strengthen the voices of women and girls around the world.
Two highlights of the week were the Global Women Summit, co-hosted with longtime WDN partner the Diplomatic Courier, and the annual Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Award luncheon. This year, WDN honored President of Finland Tarja Halonen (2000-2012) and Mongolian Member of Parliament Oyun Sanjaasuren with the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Award, presented by Honorary Chair of WDN’s Council Cindy Hensley McCain. The award was given in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the advancement of women in politics and civil society and for serving as role models for women around the world.
The summit opened with remarks from Ana Carcani Rold, editor-in-chief of the Diplomatic Courier, and Erika Veberyte, director of WDN, and featured keynote speeches from Fumbi Chima, chief information officer for Wal-Mart Asia, and John Clifton, managing director of Gallup World Poll. The speakers stressed the importance of continuing to recognize women for their achievements and creating more opportunities for them in decision making processes. The sentiment, that there is still work to do, dominated the panel discussions on women’s political participation and economic empowerment.
Moderated by WDN Council members Anita McBride and Ambassador Paula Dobriansky, the panels featured Dr. Joyce Banda, president of Malawi (2012-2014) and WDN members Dr. Jorida Tabaku, member of the Parliament of Albania; Wafa Bani Mostafa, member of the Jordanian House of Representatives; Erdenechimeg Luvsan, member of the Mongolian Parliament; and Selima Ahmad, founder of the Bangladesh Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
At the close of the conference, participants discussed their experiences, personal projects and strategies moving forward. Zana Marjanovic from Bosnia and Herzegovina noted, “I will continue discussions with my colleagues who I have met here beyond the conference, and I look forward to seeking advice on training women locally and empowering women to run for office.”
As Veberyte noted in her opening remarks for the Global Women’s Summit, “It is imperative to remember that progress will only be achieved when our words turn into strategic actions”. As WDN members return home to resume their responsibilities, WDN will continue to support them in achieving their goals and WDN’s mission of empowering women to lead worldwide.