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 legislators from 14 countries across the Middle East and North Africa. In 2017-2018, the SNP-WFD programme focused on helping build the network. This included training local staff for the Amman secretariat, providing legal support to help the Network gain registered NGO status, establishing a members’ database and conducting research on the legislative and quota systems of the region.  

 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 Parliaments by watching proceedings first-hand in Holyrood and Westminster. Following work to consolidate the network, the SNP-WFD programme helped Ra’edat develop policy to advance gender equality in the region’s legislatures. In March 2018, 27 members from 10 countries participated in a four-day workshop in Tunis to draft model policy surrounding women’s political representation. 

Parliamentary Women’s Caucus 

Following a scoping visit in May 2017, the SNP-WFD programme started to support the Parliamentary Women’s Caucus in Malawi. In October 2017, the Head of the Caucus, Dr Jessie Kabwila MP was invited to visit Edinburgh and London to observe how the institutions of UK democracy work and help design activities to support the Caucus. 

Based on this exchange, the programme will focus on supporting members of the network as they prepare for the upcoming election campaign and the first meeting of the whole caucus was scheduled for February 2018. This was attended by 25 of the 32 women Malawian MPs and featured 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 workshop yielded a range of suggestions from the Caucus on how the SNP WFD can continue engagement to support re-election of women MPs in Malawi’s upcoming 2019 general election. The SNP WFD will continue to work with the Caucus on their improved relations with the media, how to fundraise for their campaigns, and maintaining visibility to the electorate.  

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