Mutual learning strengthens local democracy

– Change is happening, but it’s going slowly and we still face many challenges,” says democracy researcher, Robert Mhamba.
And there is no doubt that a few intensive days of lectures, workshops and experience-sharing have strengthened the local democracy work.

Kristin Ekström from the International Centre for Local Democracy (ICLD), together with her colleagues, Shannon Lövgren, Lars Lööf and Anne Scheffer Leander, spent a week helping promote democracy training measures in Tanzania.

Local politicians from round 4 of the training course spoke about their experiences and the development work they have initiated during the first year of their training. They shared their experiences both with their invited male colleagues, and their colleagues currently on the fifth round of the training ladder.
– On Wednesday, we brought this round 4 group together with the round 5 group of politicians, says Kristin Ekström. The Swedish politicians, who act as mentors, also attended.

Robert Mhamba lectured on the research financed by ICLD and which he and Jonas Ewald had carried out into local democratic development in Tanzania.
– Change is happening, but it’s going slowly and we still face many challenges. What we need to do, more than anything, is to bring about changes in the local institutions’ ability to operate at a local level. We need stronger incentives for politicians to interact with one another and to cross the different political levels, says Robert Mhamba.

One of the objectives of the Wednesday was to create opportunities for the institutionalisation of the capacity development gained by women as part of the training. They have an important part to play as leaders of democratic development at a local level.
– After all, once they’re back on home soil, they will be working hand in hand with their colleagues to progress development, and equitable political representation is a key issue for all of us in creating a sustainable society,”says Anne Scheffer Leander.
The week began with group work with the new fifth round politicians. Issues on the agenda included communicative and political leadership and work on strategic issues in relation to the politicians’ individual capacity development as leaders.
The week rounded off with the fourth round politicians and their male colleagues sharing experiences and reflecting on the challenges faced.

One of the factors for success in boosting both knowledge levels and training measures is the participants’ ability to share.
And the power of this model was apparent when the fourth round’s participants in “Local Political Leaders – Capacitating women in politics” met with the fifth round participants.
– I’ve found more strength in terms of my personal leadership and of what it means to be a woman and a leader, says Audrey Morakane from South Africa.

ICLD’s leadership training programme is like a relay race. A race in which the participants are the engine and knowledge the fuel. The goal is a strengthening of both democracy and women’s competence in this field.
On Wednesday we brought this fourth group together with the fifth group of politicians, says Kristin Ekström. Six Swedish politicians, who work as mentors, participated in the workshop. Their coaching and advice to turn political knowledge into action in everyday life was inspiring for the participants.

The nice thing is that learning was mutual. The Swedish politicians brought experiences home to Sweden that strengthens their own political leadership.
Audrey Morakane and Suzan Velaphi from South Africa, who are in the fourth round of ICLD leadership training, say their political leadership has become clearer in the first year.
– I very much like the personal development of my leadership, says Suzan. I already feel that it is easier for me to make decisions with the insight and experience this gave me.

The purpose of the workshop was to create opportunities for institutionalization of the development women receive in their education. As leaders of democratic development at the local level, they play an important role.
– Back home, they will work together with their colleagues to push development forward. Equally political representation for a sustainable society is a matter for all of us, says Anne Scheffer Leander.

The week began with the new fifth round of politicians working in groups. The agenda featured communicative and political leadership as well as work on strategic issues for the individual’s capacity development as a leader.
The week came to a close with the fourth round of politicians and their male colleagues working on the Global Development Goals and Agenda 2030.

Shared knowledge on leadership 
Local politicians from the fourth round told about the experiences they had, and the progress they experienced in the first year of their education. They shared their experiences with their invited male colleagues and colleagues in the fifth round of education.

To the workshop in Tanzania, Audrey Morakane took Jordan Griffiths, a male colleague from Twane, South Africa’s political assembly. Jordan received a first introduction about the education women are undergoing and inspiration for her continued commitment. The aim is to strengthen the national network.

The workshop included William Mduduzi, Suzan Velaphi’s colleague at home. Linda Landu, a politician from Cape Winelands in South Africa has just begun her leadership training as a participant in the fifth round of the programme. 

Kerstin Persson from the municipality of Klippan, is one of the Swedish mentors. 
– This is so interesting and evolving for our leadership and our societies. It gives new perspectives for all of us involved, says Kerstin