Democracies need strong women

23 leading international politicians met over the course of two weeks in Sweden as part of the 18-month long training programme, attending lectures and workshops, making study visits, and gaining work experience alongside their Swedish colleagues at municipalities or county councils. And thanks to ICLD’s close cooperation with SKL (the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions), 15 leading Swedish politicians are acting as mentors for the leadership programme, helping strengthen the leadership skills of course participants and mentors alike, and also helping boost gender equality by supporting women in leading positions and creating role models. 

The programme for the participants’ first week in Visby included a visit to Gotland’s County Governor, Cecilia Schelin Seidegård, and a study trip to Region Gotland.
The 23 participants from 12 of ICLD’s partner countries were accepted, last spring, to the fourth round of ICLD’s programme, “Local Political Leaders – Capacitating Women in Politics”. The participants come from India, Indonesia, Kenya, Macedonia, Namibia, Serbia, South Africa, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, and Zambia. The training programme kicked off in April 2016 with workshops in Kisumu in Kenya for the African and Asian participants, and in May in Belgrade in Serbia for the participants from Eastern Europe.  

“The programme plays an important part in boosting gender equality in the local political organisations internationally. Democracies need strong women. Swedish political bodies are the most gender-equal in the world, with 38% of all municipal executive committee Chair posts held by women. The corresponding global average at local level is 9%,” says ICLD Programme Director Kristin Ekström.

The aim of the training period in Sweden in October was to strengthen the participants’ political leadership skills by giving them an insight into elected women’s reality in Sweden, interspersed with lectures and workshops. The second week, from 24-28 October, started with a workshop in Stockholm organised in partnership with Lena Lindgren from SKL. The workshop additionally gave the participants the chance to meet with their mentors, who also acted as hosts for the visits to a municipality or county council on 25-27 October, when the participants were accompanied by their hosts.

One of the mentors is Agneta Blom, Chair of the Municipal Assembly in Örebro, who has 14 years of experience as a politician.

“I’m hugely impressed by the massive level of commitment on the part of these women. Many of them are in senior positions and work hard to inspire other women. It’s clear to me that we have a great deal in common and that we can genuinely help in each other’s development as leaders of sustainable, local democracies,” says Agneta Blom.