How to empower women to become more influential in politics? | fnst.org

How to empower women to become more influential in politics?

European Women's Academy of Political Leadership and Campaigning 2017
Message07.02.2017Stefka Miteva and Boryana Atanassova
EWA Academy 2017 Tbilisi Group Photo 2
EWA Academy 2017 Tbilisi Group Photo

The thought of Ayn Rand „To achieve, you need thought. You have to know what you are doing and that’s real power“ keeps inspiring the participants of the European Women’s Academy of Political Leadership and Campaigning (“EWA”).

“This is what you should learn here to become stronger liberal freedom fighters all over the world and especially in your countries” – with these welcome remarks,  Mr Peter-Andreas Bochmann, Project Director of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for South Caucasus,  opened the second edition of the European Women’s Academy.  EWA East Europe 2017 aims to empower women to become more influential politicians. It is organized by the Estonian Development Cooperation, in cooperation with the Regional Office of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for East and Southeast Europe (“FNF ESEE”).  EWA is a state-of-the-art training programme, lasting half a year, with three sessions and online work with mentoring in between.  The first session took place from 19th until 21st of January in Tbilisi, Georgia. 20 female rising stars in politics from Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Bosnia and Herzegovina were selected in a highly competitive process to embark on the EWA journey.

Peter-Andreas Bochmann at EWA 2017
Peter-Andreas Bochmann, Project Director, FNF South Caucasus

“We would like to teach women how to become more self-confident” – said Annika Arras, Director of the Academy and facilitator of the sessions.  The goal of the programme is to help female political leaders, high-level officials and campaigners to achieve immediate results in upcoming elections by helping them design their own campaign strategy.  And it already has its success stories among the alumni who participated in the first class for Western European countries last year in Estonia. “It is ok if you are a woman and want to become the Prime Minister or even the President of your country. You just need to work for it, and you need to have a clear plan how to do it”. Among the participants this year are women from different levels of the political and state structure, among which mayors, vice ministers, head of political organizations etc. All united by one goal – to become better in what they do and get elected to the position they aspire. There is hardly a better person to lead EWA. Ms Arras, now a top-level consultant in corporate and government relations, has more than a decade experience as a Campaign Director and Communications Advisor of the Estonian Reform Party, with many success stories in elections.

Annika Arras
Annika Arras, EWA Director

The first session of EWA’s Academy focused on value based politics and goal setting. Radu Magdin, a leading analyst and consultant with more than 10 years of experience in the field of the strategic communication, political campaigning and consulting, led the leadership sessions.  One of the questions for reflection he posed, which all politicians have to ask themselves throughout their career, was “Do you adapt and simply play the game, the way it is set or do you become the change agent?”.  The trainer gave very pragmatic suggestions to the ladies on how to better manage their teams and win followers, as true leaders.  Another training module focused on building trust, credibility and respect in the voters’ eyes. “It is not only about leadership, but also strategy. Conduct a personal assessment and ask yourself “Would I follow me”-concluded Mr Magdin, quoting the famous American writer Brian Tracey.

Furthermore, EWA Academy offered strategy session on data gathering and research with Irakli Chikovani.  He is one of the founders of the Georgian liberal party “Free Democrats”, Vice-President of the ALDE Group in the Council of Europe and a high-ranking politician.  “Make sure that your gut feeling, your hunch is supported by the data and the research to make decisions.”  Mr Chikovani showed examples on data analytics and underlined the importance of data gathering of the voters’ preferences, habits, mind-set for the right positioning of the candidate, to mention a few. 

Go through the photos in the Facebook album here and below

„To achieve, you need thought. You have to know what you are doing and that’s real power“

Ayn Rand

Empowered by the presentations from the intensive first day, the participants went through more hands-on, action and reflection oriented sessions on the second day.The politicians had to make the first step of achieving their goals – drawing their own political canvas. Under the guidance from Annika Arras, the women started visualizing their campaign by analysing their “Dream Land” or the goal they want to achieve and putting it into the current landscape of their political reality. By formulating their vision and mission the participants left the seminar by formulating their first campaign slogan.  Judging by the energy and passion of the discussions, everybody is already looking forward impatiently to the upcoming March session. And so are we.

Stay tuned for a series of videos on women in politics soon.