By Anthony Smith, Chief Executive
UK general election
April brought us the news of a snap general election here in the UK on 8 June. As the leading organisation providing insight into the UK democratic experience this is a great opportunity for our friends and partners to witness our electoral process in action.
The timing of the election means new dates for our anniversary conference: Democracy UK – Global Values in an Uncertain World, which will now take place on 12-13 September in the Foreign Office and Parliament here in London.
Jordan acts to protect women
This month we have also learnt how WFD efforts in the Middle East on ending discriminatory laws have led the government of Jordan to propose amendments to Article 308 of the penal code which protects perpetrators of rape from punishment if they marry the victim.
We are very pleased to observe this development and will redouble efforts to support reform of similar laws across the region in partnership with the Coalition of Women MPs from Arab Countries for Combating Violence Against Women.
With support from the Coalition, MPs in Iraq have already put forward proposals to amend sexual violence laws in the country. WFD will continue to support initiatives to protect and empower women throughout the region.
New case studies from WFD programmes published
Today, we publish case studies from our programmes in Iraq, Kenya, Ukraine and Sri Lanka. This is a small sample from the 70 programmes we have implemented in over 40 countries over the course of 2016-2017. We will unveil further results in the coming months and during the Democracy UK conference in September.
The reports detail how, over the last 12 months we have:
- Worked in partnership with the Federation of Sri Lanka Local Government Association (FSLGA) to support Sri Lankan women run for office in council elections.
- Worked with the Senate of Kenya to put evidence at the heart of policy making, learning from experience in Northern Ireland.
- Strengthened links between MPs in Westminster and the Ukrainian Parliament through an exchange programme.
- Helped the Kurdistan Regional Government take steps to tackle corruption.
Democracy UK conference (London 12-13 September)
This recent work illustrates the type of investment that WFD makes in strengthening democracies around the world. The payback on these investments can be slow but is critical in building stable democratic institutions in our partner countries. The contribution from UK parliaments, political parties and others is invaluable.
These themes will be central to WFD’s two-day conference where policy-makers, academics and partners will debate how we can sustain democratic culture and practice at a time when democratic freedoms are being squeezed around the world.
The conference will mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and I hope will be a fitting way to mark the International Day of Democracy on 15 September, with contributions from government, opposition and analysts, as well as former and current Governors and friends of WFD.
We are currently in the process of sending out revised invitation letters and agenda. If you would like more details about our conference, please email firstname.lastname@example.org