[Brussels, 16 December 2016] From November 30 to December 2 leading activists in the field of women in politics from Europe and the US came together to jointly strategise around how we can get more women into elected office. With the rise of right-wing populism on both sides of the Atlantic as a momentous back-drop, the meeting was important in building solidarity, sharing strategies of hope and creating a solid network on women in politics activists. #ExCHANGE also provided a much needed space for reflection on feminist politics.
The program included discussions around how we as civil society can put pressure on political parties, as key gatekeepers in terms of getting women elected, to empowering young women to run for office, and discussing the need for structural reform of election systems to allow women a fair chance of representation. The participants met with several high-level women, including Renate Nikolay, Head of Commissioner Jourova’s cabinet.
The need for inclusive and reflective politics - in terms of gender, but also in terms of class, race, ability, sexuality etc. was emphasised repeatedly, and the participants also met with a group of young women politicians from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Nicole Carsburg from the Barbara Lee Family Foundation presented their Campaign Essentials report. The issue of likeability is strong, women need to appear likeable, confident, be seen in informal photos with constituents working for ‘their best interest’, be seen to be passionate and authentic. Michelle O’Donnell Keating from Women for Election inspired the participants with her Irish case study on how the political culture can change in a decade. Alexandra Rosen presented Women in Parliaments’ report on women politicians on social media, which prompted an important conversation around the online hatred that many women in elected seats are faced with.
The event was co-hosted by EWL, the Reflective Democracy Campaign and the German Marshall Fund and supported by the Barbara Lee Foundation, the US Mission to the EU, the Municipality of St Joss, and the European Commission.