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Report from Eurasian Women Leaders Conference: Promoting Greater Civic Engagement and Political Participation Amongst Women & Yo

I have pasted portions of my report on the strategy session: Promoting Greater Civic Engagement and Political Participation Amongst Women & Youth, that was conducted at the Vital Voices of Eurasia: A Leadership Summit for Women and Girls, October 17th.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007
WOMEN LEADING CHANGE IN PUBLIC LIFE
Promoting Greater Civic Engagement and Political Participation Amongst Women & Youth

Issue to be Addressed
How women from Eurasia can come together to promote greater civic engagement and political participation amongst women and youth.

Solutions Identified
-Building networks of women leaders to provide support and guidance for their peers
-Bringing media attention to influential women in public life to increase their visibility and supply younger generations with role models
-Organizing local awareness-building gatherings to bring knowledge regarding the political process to women, youth, and underrepresented demographics.
-Promoting girls’ participation in student government structures at an early age
-Setting up mentorship programs for women and youth to expose them to politics and guide them through the processes of seeking public office (participants believe that girls should begin the mentoring process in their early teens)
-Holding international and regional conferences that put women professionals in contact with NGO leaders and political leaders, providing them with inspiration and networking opportunities as well as practical training.
-Passing legislation to provide for city/county youth councils to allow for greater youth activism.
-Forming women’s committees at the local, regional, national levels to inspire women’s engagement.
-Making government documents and laws widely accessible by way of the internet to allow for a greater percentage of the population to become aware of their rights and the current political situation in their countries

Major Challenges of Implementing Solutions
-Women in Eurasia often feel as though they have to choose between family obligations and their career
-Cultural stereotypes deter young women from investing in their potential ability as leaders in politics and civil society
-The education system does not encourage political participation, making it difficult for girls to understand how they can get involved.
-Brain drain- Many of the women and youth who would be qualified to hold leadership positions in their home countries seek employment opportunities abroad
-Internal hierarchies present in government bodies deter women leaders from entering political sphere- these women often engage in civil society leadership because they feel that it is easier for them to advance

Best Practices for Identifying the Challenges
-One may evaluate the challenges women face in their efforts to fill leadership positions in government by looking at statistics of how many women are represented at the local, regional, national level and by reflecting on the trends of upward mobility (i.e.-how many women leaders at the local level move on to hold positions at the regional level, etc.)

Opportunities for Building on Successes
- Women and youth are typically very active in local community life (ex. School, market places and local communities) and have a unique view of the community. For this reason, they are well suited to fill decision-making positions
-The region has witnessed a rise in women’s leadership within the civil society sector. If given the proper training, many of these women would be qualified to hold political positions.

Key Partners or stakeholders needed to implement this follow-up Project
-Political leaders
-Non-governmental organizations with an interest in promoting women’s leadership in the political sphere
-Youth
-Educational Institutions

Communication Strategy- how engage decision makers and media
-Using established female leaders throughout the region to leverage interest in rising female voices.

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