EWA East Europe 2018 Graduated Successfully
Alarmingly low levels of female representation in politics in East and Southeast Europe
Eastern Europe is suffering from alarmingly low levels of female representation in politics. In the participating countries of EWA East Europe (women in lower or single house parliaments account for: Bosnia and Herzegovina- 21.4%, Romania- 20.7%, Croatia- 19.9%, Bulgaria- 19.2%, Russia- 15.8%, Ukraine- 12.3%, Armenia- 9.9%) on average the female representation in parliament is 17%, while women in ministerial positions account for on average 21.8%, according to UN Women report on “Women in Parliament: Women in Politics 2017 Map”. In comparison these averages for the region are much smaller than in Germany- 37.0% women in parliaments and 33.3% women in ministerial positions.
The liberal answer to this challenge is the European Women's Academy for Political Leadership and Campaigning (EWA). EWA East Europe is a state-of-the-art training programme, organized by the European Liberal Forum, supported by the Regional Office of Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) for East and Southeast Europe, in cooperation with the ALDE Party. Class of 2018 of EWA East Europe, consisting of 12 inspiring female leaders from 7 countries, has just successfully graduated in June the final session of the insightful two-session training. This is the second time FNF is investing in women’s training for East and Southeast Europe. Our first Class of 2017 alumni consists of 20 female rising stars in politics from 6 countries in the region.
In need of a critical mass of women involved in politics and role models
The liberal family of FNF, ALDE, ELF is firmly committed to changing the status quo and contributing by specialized trainings and international exchange of experience. We hope that this will result in an environment in the liberal parties, in which it is not only allowed but it is expected that qualified women run for elected office. It is our belief that successful women should serve as role models and help attract and develop more female talent in politics.
“I have never thought about me being a woman in politics, but when I entered in 2015, I found a big empty space, which needs to be filled by competent strong clever professional women, who can take up leadership positions. I and others have to be role models.”
In her meeting with the Class of EWA East Europe, Bettina Stark-Watzinger, Member of Bundestag, FDP Germany and EWA West 2016 Alumna, emphasized that “we need a critical mass of women involved in politics to overcome the old rules.” Women are well suited for politics, because the latter is about doing something good for the people in your country. And women contribute much more to that.
Strategy and Tools for Success in Politics
The political career canvass is the cornerstone of the EWA training. All participants were invited to reflect on the insights from the inputs from the top-level trainers, and to draft their personal canvass for the next ambitious goal in their political careers under the guidance of Annika Arras. The canvass presents a map, starting with the end goal – the desired position- and constructing back the way how to get there. EWA East Europe trains the promising stars on every step of this journey.
“EWA is a wonderful opportunity for any woman who is engaged in politics. It is important to push us outside our boundaries and fears. Because EWA is a unique opportunity to practice on ideas in a closed group before we go out and face the real world with them.”
During the final session in June in Bulgaria, the politicians embarked on learning and experiential journey, covering topics as campaigning plan and tactics, media and crisis communications, framing the message, public speaking, building and managing teams. The class met for the first time for intensive four days in March in Varna, Bulgaria, for a comprehensive programme focusing on personal career, values, strategy, goal setting, data and research, fundraising and media relations. The group was entrusted to trainers with rich professional experience and successful track record of campaigning. EWA lasted 4 months, with two intensive training sessions in person, online work and mentoring in between.
“It is not only the knowledge we gain from the trainers, but also info from the other participants and their own experiences that bring extra added value to EWA.”
What EWA creates is a network of change leaders in the liberal family, who are ready to break stereotypes, step forward in politics and willing to empower more women. The group of trainers and women grew closer together, forming a closely-knit feeling of community. Not only did we have training sessions together, but we as well charged us with positive energy and determination via alternative methods:
There are already success stories from both EWA East and EWA West Academies. Just recently EWA participant from Class 2018, Mane Tandilyan has been appointed as Minister of Labor and Social Affairs of Armenia.
“For me personally EWA is a good opportunity to rethink my personal political goals and to put in writing the tools for achieving those goals. EWA helps me to become a better leader of my party. It as well shows me different ways to achieve my personal dreams in politics.”
FNF remains committed to supporting EWA, especially in the light of the successful pilot edition of EWA East Europe in 2017 and given the achievements of already 3 generations of EWA from the West Europe edition.
“EWA has helped me a lot. I have learned that it works. You can plan success. It is hard work. If you think about your strategy, your goals, your communications tools, it works. And especially it helped a lot because it gave me the necessary self-confidence that I can do it.“
One of the highlights of this quest for political leadership and success was the graduation ceremony, when all participants delivered their touching and inspiring speeches. Have a look at some of the insights:
Stay tuned for interviews on women in politics soon. Find our exclusive sound bites with the trainers and politicians in our Instagram Stories Series here.