WOMEN’S POLITICAL LEADERSHIP

The Scottish National Party is a progressive, left-of-centre party with an internationalist outlook. The SNP have been in government for over 10 years in the devolved Scottish Parliament, whilst in opposition in the UK Parliament (as the third largest party, since 2015). This unique position allows the SNP to share experience of devolution and the experience of being simultaneously in government and opposition.  

The SNP’s international work funded by WFD focuses on select projects to maximise depth of intervention and use limited funding effectively.  The SNP’s approach to representation and equality, particularly with regards to women’s political representation, is at the heart of the international work conducted by the SNP.  With a female party leader, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and the UK’s first gender-balanced cabinet, the programme shares good practice with partners who want to move closer to gender equality. 

 

“Since 1992, Westminster Foundation for Democracy has been involved in very important work, promoting democracy throughout the world.”
Rt Hon Ian Blackford MP
Leader of the Scottish National Party in the Westminster Parliament

Building political networks and regional level 

Ra’edat is a network of 200 women who are current or former legislators from 14 countries across the Middle East and North Africa. In 2016-2018, the SNP-WFD programme focused on helping build the network. Five members of the Executive (sitting MPs from Palestine, Tunisia and Sudan, and former MPs from Bahrain and Jordan) attended the SNP’s Autumn Conference in October 2017 and became more familiar with the Scottish and UK. The SNP-WFD supported Ra’edat in drafting a model policy to advance gender equality in the region’s legislatures. This was developed after a 4-day workshop in Tunis, with participation by 27 members from 10 countries.

Since then, we have begun hosting a series of national-level meetings, to adapt the policy to each country’s specific context. The first was held in Jordan in July 2018, the second in Sudan in October 2018 and the third in Egypt in November 2018. The conferences have demonstrated strong engagement between the Network and civil society across the MENA region. The policies being developed are exclusively focused on women’s increased access to political representation.

In 2019, the Network began developing what will be the Arab world’s first policy paper on the issue of violence against women in politics.

Parliamentary Women’s Caucus 

The SNP WFD programme has been working with Malawi’s Parliamentary Women’s Caucus since 2017. In October 2017, the then-serving Head of the Caucus, Dr Jessie Kabwila MP was invited to visit Edinburgh and London to observe how the institutions of democracy work in Holyrood and Westminster and help design activities to most effectively support the Caucus. 

Based on this exchange, the 2017-19 programme was developed to focus on supporting the retention of Malawi’s female MPs in the May 2019 tripartite election. In February 2018, 25 of 32 women Malawian MPs attended a training session led by local experts in politics and communications, with additional contributions from SNP MP Hannah Bardell and the SNP Westminster Group’s Head of Press.

The SNP WFD, Malawi’s Centre for Civil Society Strengthening and ActionAid hired a local Project Officer based in Lilongwe, who has frequent interaction with the Caucus and Parliamentary Clerks, conducts field research, has developed the social media strategy, organised conversations between the SNP and Malawi parties’ leaders to discuss the importance of women in party leadership positions and developed various means of ensuring the visibility of female candidates.

We continue to work with the Caucus on combating violence against women in politics, improved relations with the media, how to fund-raise for campaigns and maintaining visibility to the electorate. 

The May 2019 election returned a record-breaking 45 women, and Malawi’s first female Speaker. We look forward to revitalising the programme with the new Caucus.

Elections & Disinformation

The SNP WFD’s newest programme is in Ukraine, where we are collaborating with the Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU) to develop a guide for voters on how to recognise and avoid disinformation surrounding elections.

The first event took place in Kyiv in September 2018, with a roundtable with MPs from various parties, Ministers, NGOs and representatives from the media, with an overview of the issue. A follow-up event was held in Glasgow, with a Ukrainian MP from the Energy Committee speaking with SNP MPs on a panel about the impact of Russian disinformation on energy security.

In 2019, the CVU is hosting a series of roundtable discussions in different regions of Ukraine with local stakeholders to develop a cross-sector cohesive policy strategy to identify and combat Russian disinformation in the country in advance of the presidential and parliamentary elections. Research is being conducted to develop a policy paper, as well as a shareable film and presentation for Ukrainian voters on recognising disinformation prior to the presidential and parliamentary elections.

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