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.

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
“At a time when democracy faces new challenges across the world, the work of the Westminster Foundation Democracy has never been more important.”
Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party

Building political networks at regional level

The Conservative Party supported the development of a network of centre-right parties across the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to enable political parties to develop regional initiatives and improve relations between countries. Support included organising a range of policy workshops and the delivery of technical training to officials. The network was established in January 2018. Since then, it has agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Conservative Party and it has defined a roadmap for further development.

The Conservative Party continued to work with the network of centre-right parties from nine Caribbean countries on policy and on the representation of women and young people. Through Conservative engagement, the CDU developed a Women’s Network to improve women’s political participation. This will be launched formally in 2018. The youth wings of some of the sister parties involved in the network have also been adopting new tools for youth engagement, including online surveys.

The Conservative Party worked with sister-parties across the Western Balkans to develop a centre-right political network. The Western Balkans Network (WBN) was officially launched in Albania, in February 2018, and it includes eight member-parties from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo. The purpose of the network is to encourage cross-country dialogue in a region where memories of conflict are still fresh.

In 2017-2018, the Conservative Party started partnering with UPLA to help them develop a women’s network, with the aim of giving women a greater voice within political parties in the region and to help more women get into political leadership roles. The network will be launched in June 2018. Additional work to support women political participation in the region included the provision of training for women politicians from 13 Latin Americancountries on communication skills and campaigning.

Party-to-party support

The Conservative Party worked with the Republican Proposal (PRO) Party on political communications and institutional strengthening.

The Conservative Party worked with four different centre-right parties on policy, women and youth participation, and capacity building. This included delivering a workshop to help women and youth candidates produce concrete policy proposalsto present to their party’s leadership.

International Department engagement with the Social Christian Party (PSC) of Ecuador led the PSC to relaunch its youth wing. The party has also developed a year-long training course aimed at equipping its younger members with the knowledge and skills they require to be effective political actors.

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

The Conservative Party has worked with the Lebanese Forces Party (LFP) on a stakeholder-led project about improving communications. The LFP sought to learn how UK parties communicate with their supporters/voters. As a result, the LFP developed a communication plan for engaging their grassroots. They began to produce newsletters that engaged their voters and party members.

The Conservative Party trained 70 female and youth candidates of the National Action Party (PAN) from all around Mexico ahead of the elections, to equip them with the skills they require for running for office and be effective once in office, as well as exposing them to tools for engaging more women and young people in politics.

Related documents

Relevant news

  • Lejla Dzanovic (left), an actress playing Vahida Maglajlic; Senija Oruc (right) an actress, playing Vera Snajder. 

Getting more Bosnian women into politics

April 5th, 2019|

Equality between women and men is clearly enshrined in Bosnia and Herzegovina's constitution and yet, gender inequality persists in all spheres of society. Women are under-represented in political life, particularly in high-ranking positions and [...]