Strengthening democracy around the world in 2019

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Strengthening democracy around the world in 2019

December 19th, 2019

In 2019, people around the world celebrated the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) was founded in the wake of those events to support emerging democracies. Today, three decades later, we continue to work to strengthen democracy around the world through our offices in 33 counties.

The year saw us conduct more than 600 activities, reaching over 6,000 participants and producing almost 100 products ranging from research on the cost of politics we commissioned to a strategic plan for the National Assembly of Pakistan that we supported.

We trained 42 election observers and participated in EU Election Observation Missions in Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, Kosovo, and Tunisia. We also undertook valuable research in the field of electoral recommendations and shared the findings with organisations like the EU, Organisation of American States and the UN.  

Before we embark upon the next decade, we are reflecting on some of this year’s highlights:

In January…

…we opened our office in Tirana, Albania, to support Albania’s parliament, political parties and civil society to strengthen its democracy on the country’s path to greater integration with Europe as part of the Western Balkans Democracy Initiative (WBDI). Back in Westminster, we welcomed four of Lebanon’s six women lawmakers to the UK to help them push for greater gender-equality.

In Feburary…

Participant at the Women's Political Leadership Conference in the Malaysian Parliament in 2019We co-hosted the #WomenWhoLead conference in Malaysia through the Commonwealth Partnership for Democracy (CP4D). The summit brought together political and civil-society leaders and influencers from across the Commonwealth to share inspiration and insights around creating positive change for women’s rights. At the event, the Speaker of the Malaysian Parliament Mohamad Ariff and Women’s Minister Hannah Yeoh renewed the parliament’s commitment to creating extra childcare facilities for public workers to help support women leaders in unleashing their potential.

Meanwhile, 20 years since the end of military rule in Nigeria and in the run up to the country’s 2019 general election, WFD and the Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF) informed underrepresented groups like women, young people and persons with disabilities about their right to vote.

 

In March…

Another landmark for WFD was the CP4D conference on youth participation in politics that took place in Uganda. It brought together more than 200 delegates from 10 African countries. At the conference, the Ugandan Speaker of Parliament, the Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, backed cutting costs for young people entering politics.

In April…

Member of Myanmar Education Committee engages with student… a delegation from Myanmar’s parliament visited South Africa to learn about education policy, as they strive to push for landmark reforms in a bid to reduce poverty.

 

In May…

…we began to publish our research on the cost of youth emigration to Western Balkan economies. We started with the results of research on Serbia which revealed than four out of five young Serbs consider emigrating. In response to these challenges, WFD is rallying government representatives, businesses, education, and civil society actors to create alliances for change. The aim is to enable policies that provide a better life for young people. Research on Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Albania followed later in the year.

In June…

Parliament pageOver 600 legislators, senior civil servants and experts in democracy came together to share insights into how parliaments in Asia and around the world are monitoring and reviewing laws to ensure they work effectively for citizens. The conference in Yangon, Myanmar focused on post-legislative scrutiny – a method of reviewing and assessing laws after they have been passed to check whether they are achieving their intended effect, and to assess any unintended effects.

In July…

Stop Violence Against Women in BiHFollowing our All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Democracy in the World meeting on violence against women in politics around the world in April, we published a report which found that violence affects more than 60% of women in politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Understanding this issue is crucial to putting a stop to it. Plus, we organised a roundtable on media freedom in South-East Asia as part of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s conference on defending media freedom.

In August…

Activists from 14 Commonwealth countries called for more women in leadership positions at a CP4D summit in Ghana. The discussions at the conference informed research we are undertaking with the University of Birmingham on women in African parliaments and how they can influence policymaking. Look out for the research next year.

 

In September…

With thanks to support from WFD, the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs succeeded in getting an entire session of the National Youth Moot Parliament dedicated to increasing the participation of persons with disabilities in politics. This resulted in proposals to amend the National Youth Council Act (2010) to include representation of young people with a disability at all levels and to provide for a national youth MP representing them. In Nepal, we spent International Day of Democracy with an inspiring group of first-time women MPs, who we continue to work closely with.

In October…

WFD Sierra Leone and the Parliament of Sierra Leone, launched the Sierra Leone Parliament App in October. WFD supported the development of the free mobile app, which aims to improve the Parliament’s openness and transparency. It allows citizens to get more involved in politics and check what the parliament and its members are doing. Whilst in the Western Balkans, we launched the Human Rights and Gender (HUGEN) Network to support Western Balkans parliaments in reaching international standards for human rights and gender equality.

Also in October we supported hundreds of persons with disabilities to meet with the Mozambican President. They secured his commitment to new laws, policies and strategies to improve the socio-economic and political inclusion of persons with disabilities in Mozambique.

In November…

Gazetted disability bill KenyaWe saw a milestone for our CP4D work in Kenya: The Kakamega County Disability Bill was gazetted! The Homa Bay County Disability Bill has also been passed! WFD has been providing technical support to the Kakamega Disability Causus through building their capacity to lobby and advocate for change, and to draft legislation.

 

In December…

Women at a training session for electoral candidates in Kyrgyzstan

Women election candidates from four cities in Kyrgyzstan spent time with our Senior Gender and Politics Adviser Shannon O’Connell. They learnt how to create an electoral campaign strategy and prepared themselves for the pre-election campaigns of March to April 2020.

 

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