WOMEN’S POLITICAL LEADERSHIP

In 1999, WFD helped establish a shared service to provide pooled administrative and project-management capacity to the political parties with fewer seats in the House of Commons, which would have otherwise been unable to implement international programmes. 

Since, the Multi-Party Office (MPO) has supported the Liberal Democrats, the Democratic Unionist Party, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party to undertake international engagement and development programmes around the world. 

Programmes implemented by the smaller political parties in the UK House of Commons complement main Foundation programmes and the work of larger parties. By partnering with small opposition parties in countries dominated by one or two major political parties, Multi-Party Office programmes help build truly multi-party democracies. They share political experience that is relatable and can be adapted to local context by minority political parties campaigning on specific issues or representing a certain region or group. 

Multi-Party Office programmes are partnerships that share experiences, learning and best practice. Smaller UK parties work with their sister parties and regional networks to enhance internal party rules and procedures, strengthen party branches, improve membership outreach practices, adopt evidence based and inclusive policy development processes, and increase opportunities for participation by historically marginalised groups.  

“At a time of such volatility across the world, the Foundation’s role is critical – now more than ever – and I wish it continued success as it carries out its important work.”
Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable MP
Former Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Call for applications: Africa Liberal Network Women’s Leadership Programme 2020

The Africa Liberal Network (ALN) Women’s Leadership Programme (WLP) returns in 2020 to continue training, coaching and developing politically active women within our member political parties, with high potential to be elected internally and in public office within the next two years (2020 – 2022). Application are now open.

Find out more and apply now

Party programmes

In 2018, the Liberal Democrats continued their work with the Africa Liberal Network (ALN), Africa’s largest affiliation of liberal political parties, with workshops and trainings throughout the year. In May 2017, the ALN and a Lib Dem consultant provided campaign training and mentoring to a female Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) candidate and her 10-person team in Kenya in the run-up to the 2017 election.  

Building on its longstanding sister party relationship with the Democratic Alliance (DA) in South Africa, the Lib Dems undertook a two-day training in July 2017 for the DA Young Leaders’ Programme class of 2017. The training, attended by 19 participants from across South Africa, covered the areas of policy development and presentation skills. The Lib Dems supported a delegation of the top graduates from the 2017 class to attend the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Congress in Amsterdam in December 2017. A series of meetings with key European liberals and international youth organisations were arranged for the graduates, with the purpose of deepening the connection between the DA and the wider liberal family and to give these two young people a sense of the wider international context and an opening into the world of international liberalism.  

Plaid Cymru started a new Violence against Women in Politics project in Argentina with a three-member delegation, led by Liz Saville Roberts MP, attending a workshop on this topic in Buenos Aires in November 2017. The sessions focused on the prevalence and scale of the problem, including the online abuse of politically active women; existing mechanisms that address the issue; and gaps in the system with recommendations for strengthening structures in both countries. Plaid Cymru produced a research paper on the online abuse of UK politicians, a clear deterrent to young women considering entering politics, which was disseminated at the event.  

Recognising that violence against politically active women in politics is widespread, and that no country or political party is immune from the problem, the Multi-Party Office leveraged the support of all seven political parties in Westminster to organise a two-day international summit on Violence against Women in Politics in London in March 2018. With 54 speakers from over 20 countries, including high-profile speakers from across the UK political spectrum, as well as leading international activists, experts and academics, the objective of the event was to identify and build consensus around practical measures that bodies with authority and responsibility can take to prevent and address violence against women’s activism and leadership in politics and public life.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) launched a new project with the Conservative Party of Georgia (CPG) on the development of a credible and comprehensive disabilities policy. The CPG has created a working group to review the research report commissioned by the project and to begin focused consultations with relevant stakeholders in advance of drafting a policy document. 

In the run up to elections in Kenya and Rwanda, the Green Party of England and Wales organised a campaign training for members of the East Africa Greens Federation (EAGF) in Kampala in June 2017. Election candidates developed week-by-week campaign strategies, including pledges, key messages and communications material. The workshop also produced a regional campaign strategy on Green Economy, including priority issues and messaging as well as a Youth Strategy and a Women’s Group Action Plan.  

The Young Greens also launched a new project with the youth wing of the Democratic Renewal of Macedonia (DOM) party, known as MODOM. A two-day workshop was held in Skopje in March 2018, where representatives from both youth wings shared experiences and lessons on capacity-building, membership recruitment and retention, and engaging in more campaign activism.  

Cross-party programmes 

The WFD Multi-Party office leveraged the experiences and regional expertise of the UK political parties to support the decentralisation process in Ukraine through a joint project with WFD’s Research programme. A workshop was held in July 2017 in the Baranivska region of Ukraine, where WFD had been supporting the amalgamation process through the Civil Society Institute. With a new local council appointed, the MPO facilitated the sharing of UK experience of local government management and rural economic development. The local councillors and community leaders were assisted in the development of the district’s strategic plan and budget. The two Scottish delegates shared lessons on building trust and mechanisms for citizen participation; ways to increase economic activity and youth employment in a rural environment; and developing a shared community identity.  

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