WOMEN’S POLITICAL LEADERSHIP

 

WFD supports the work of the International Department of the Conservative and Unionist Party, the office responsible for relations with and support to sister parties at the international level, and for delivering the Conservative WFD Programme.

The Conservative Party recognises that each country’s needs and concerns vary widely. The UK model of democracy cannot be simply translated into the differing context of any other country. Nevertheless, British institutions and the Conservative Party’s own organisation offer examples from which others can learn.

Since its establishment, the International Department has seen how sister parties adapt and adopt Conservative Party approaches and ideas to fit their own cultural settings. However, working with representatives from political parties in developing countries is not a one-way street; it is mutually beneficial. The exchange, between the Conservatives and parties sharing similar ideological positions in other countries, can help strengthen UK democracy. For example, by finding new ways to engage the younger generation, women, ethnic minorities and other under-represented communities.

The UK Parliamentary system is widely respected internationally, and our long history of democracy serves as a beacon of hope and freedom from which newly emerging and developing democracies draw strength. The experience of the Conservative Party suggests that working with politicians and representatives from political parties in other developing countries is mutually beneficial. By sharing our expertise, we can help strengthen citizen voices, particularly those of the younger generation, women, ethnic minorities and other disadvantaged or disregarded under-represented communities. We help facilitate open communication, making leaders and governments more accountable and responsive.

Rt Hon Theresa May
The Westminster Foundation for Democracy’s work to strengthen democracy, boost human rights and develop electoral processes is hugely important. I am proud of the Conservative Party’s support for WFD and our work with our sister parties around the world.
Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP
Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party

Building political networks at regional level

Alec Shelbrooke MP with Manuel Massungue (Mozambique)In the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region, the Conservative Party has been supporting the development of the Southern Africa Network of Democrats (SAND). SAND comprises of a group of centre-right political parties and it is now a structured network with a Constitution and an Executive Committee. SAND has a recently formed Women Forum, whose purpose is to discuss issues from a women’s perspective and whose Chair, the SAND Executive Member for Women and Minorities, reports to the Executive Committee.

More so the Conservatives have recently commissioned a report that reviews and analyses party financing regulation in 13 African countries, drawing on in depth scrutiny of party legislation and personal interviews with representatives of nine different political parties. It examines the complex dynamics between money and party politics, looking in particular at how public funds are allocated,  how campaigns are financed,  the different options (and obstacles) parties face when trying to finance their ordinary activities,  the type and scope of financial disclosure and oversight, and the extent to which financial violations are sanctioned.

Caribbean CDU Women's Network

In the Caribbean, the Conservative Party works to improve the representation of women and the youth, as well as on policy development. With the help of the Conservatives, the Caribbean Democrat Union (CDU), which is a network of 9 political parties in the Caribbean, has translated its commitment to improving women’s access to and leadership in politics into the establishment of a Women’s Network which works to develop strategies for quantitatively and qualitatively improving women’s political engagement.

Caribbean Youth - CYDU

Moreover, the CDU’s youth network (CYDU) has been championing innovative strategies for engaging with young people and developing their leadership skills. Building on the training they received from the Conservative Party, the CYDU are developing a non-partisan campaign to improve youth voter engagement and increase voter turnout among Caribbean youth. The Caribbean party network engages in regular policy discussions at various levels and since 2018 it has held an annual policy paper competition focusing on identifying solutions to the most crucial policy issues in the region.

The CDU’s elected Board for the year 2019 reflects the network’s commitment to promoting women and youth through a meritocratic approach – out of 7 Board members, three are under 35 and two are women, including the Chair of the CDU.

Pledge signing at #AskHerToStand ConferenceIn the Western Balkans, the Conservative Party works to promote gender equality, transparency and youth participation, the Conservatives work both regionally and party to party. At a regional level the party works across party political and ethnic lines in order to promote the participation of women and youth. Regional work is based on thematic issues, for example, during this past year women have been encouraged to stand through the Ask Her to Stand campaign and to call out violence against women in politics. You can find a report on the political participation and decision-making of women in the Western Balkans.

The Conservatives have also been working with young people in order to encourage them to participate in politics, regionally young people have been encouraged to take a stand against hate speech. During one workshop participants where asked, why young people need to be more involved in politics and why hate speech should be called out, you can watch some of the answers here. Furthermore the Conservatives have been working party to party with sister parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina to train, equip and encourage young people to participate in elections. After conducting a survey of those who had participated in a series of trainings it was found that at the outset 67% of participants were either moderately or not involved in politics at all, after participating in several workshops 100% of participants indicated that they would vote and 62% said that they would consider standing in elections.

Moreover in Albania party to party work is conducted to improve party transparency, the Conservative have shared and encouraged the adoption of best practices on Candidate Selection processes thus ensuring that candidates enter Parliament based on merit, rather than familial ties. Currently the party is applying the Conservative Party model of Candidate Selection to ensure there is a transparent, competitive and meritocratic process for selecting candidates for parliamentary and local elections. The Party Leader made the following comment: “anyone who aspires to be a candidate should be an individual of high moral standing, integrity and professionalism, as well as unwavering political dedication”.

UPLA Latin American Women's NetworkIn Latin America, the Conservative Party works on promoting gender equality. The Conservatives have facilitated the establishment of a political women’s network within the Union of Latin American Parties (UPLA), which is aimed at supporting and boosting women’s political participation and leadership, as well as their access to political decision-making positions.

The UPLA Women’s Network (Red de Mujeres UPLA) was launched in June 2018 and it is led by women representatives from political parties spanning across Latin America. Leaders within the network have developed an online support and mentoring group for Latin American women in politics, which was launched in June 2019 on the Network’s anniversary. Moreover, representatives from the Women’s Network have worked with members of UPLA’s Executive Board to lobby for the institutionalization of women’s representation on the Board and for women’s role to become more central to the organisation and its agenda. As a result, a Women’s Director was appointed by the UPLA Chairman in June 2018 and UPLA’s statute was amended in March 2019 to include a quota for women’s representation on the Executive Board.

In 2019, the Conservative Party launched a programme in Morocco in partnership with the African Leadership and Democracy Centre. The programme is dedicated to training members of right-wing and centre-right African political parties. Its main aim is to spread and implement democracy and leadership values for sustainable development in Africa. Prominent experts are invited to share their experiences and knowledge and help trainees implement what they learned in their political experience. Three training sessions have been held in Morocco since the beginning of 2019, and over 60 representatives from 10 political parties coming from 8 African countries have benefited from training, where 44% of the trainees were women.

Party-to-party and thematic support

Since the beginning of 2019, the International Department of the Conservative Party has been working in Indonesia on a programme under the Inclusive and Accountable Politics (IAP) Grant. The programme focuses on two main areas: women’s inclusion and political parties’ role in policy development. Work in Indonesia will take the form of training and mentoring both at the national and regional levels.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina the Conservative Party has been working with four centre-right parties on both a party to party and cross party basis, the areas of work have centred on policy, political party transparency, inclusion and elections. Sister parties have been encouraged to move away from political hate speech and rather to engage with the electorate through policies, one of our sister parties founded a Policy Forum based on the Conservative Policy Forum model, to improve grassroots engagement. The International Secretary confirmed that “through improving the content of their message, the party was able to “present much better what we offer to citizens and that we don’t offer only political figure changes, but real, concrete solutions for citizen’s better life,” and that “during the campaign they tried more than ever not to deal with political opponents, but to promote knowledge and skills of our candidates and a positive political agenda”.BIH Training

Moreover the Conservatives, trained sister parties on how to detect election fraud. During the 2018 general elections parties were able to detect and deflect voter fraud. This was the result of formal cooperation with other like-minded parties (formed coalitions) and of informal cooperation with sister parties in the country, the latter of which was encouraged by the Conservative Party and facilitated by cross-party trainings.  One of the International Secretaries confirmed that over 1,000 cases of voter fraud were prevented.

The results of the Conservatives project in Bosnia & Herzegovina are presented in this report.

In 2017-2018, the Conservative Party implemented a pilot project to develop a policy forum within the New Patriotic Party (NPP) of Ghana, adopting the model of the Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) as an example of best practice in activating policy discussions at the grassroots level. Policy forum meetings were held in Tamale, Kumasi and Accra.

In the lead up to the 2018 Mexican elections, the Conservative Party trained 70 female and youth candidates of the National Action Party (PAN) from all around Mexico, to equip them with the skills required for running for office and being effective once in office. Participants also learnt about tools for engaging more women and young people in politics.

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