The International Republican Institute (IRI), along with the Malian Association for the Promotion of the Rural and Urban Sector (APSRU), held a three day workshop to further strengthen women’s political participation in Mali’s upcoming April 2009 elections. Thirty-four potential women candidates from Cinzana, Saminé, Kamiandougou and Fatiné participated in the training.
The workshop addressed a diverse number of issues related to the upcoming election and trainings were held on topics including the process and requirements for electoral registration, establishing and revising electoral lists, eligibility requirements for local council elections, ballot forms and candidacy declaration procedures for local council elections. The training on political processes was highlighted by a 30 minute drama production that followed a Malian woman’s journey through politics. The training modules were translated into the local language, Bambara, and applied practical examples and experiences adapted to fit the rural context.
Additionally, the APSRU implemented interactive trainings on public speaking and presentation strategies. With advocacy strategies critical to effective campaigns, the workshop also helped participants to understand how to identify key actors and institutions, analyze the political environment, develop strategies necessary for political change, choose a message and develop a calendar of activities. The three day workshop concluded with an activity where participants responded to simulated scenarios, allowing them the opportunity to showcase the skills they learned throughout the training.
This workshop was one of a series of events IRI and APSRU have conducted. Earlier in the year a “Women’s Advocacy Day” was organized in four communes and gathered together political party leaders in support of a resolution to increase the number of women on party lists for the April elections. More than 40 participants in each commune attended the event. A resolution was signed between the women and 10 political parties, who committed to include a minimum of two women’s names among the first five names on their candidacy lists.
APSRU then facilitated a media advocacy program to support women candidates in their political platform development and dissemination by recording their message on audiocassette. In order to build on this momentum, APSRU contracted with local radio stations to disseminate the candidates’ message in hopes of informing and mobilizing the citizenry for greater voter turnout.
At the conclusion of the recent workshop, an evaluation indicated that the women understood the topics which were addressed and were committed to implementing activities and lessons learned in their respective communes. Mali’s municipal elections are scheduled for April 26, 2009.