Each summer the International Republican Institute (IRI) hosts a series of schools for women members of Moldova’s major political parties. Parties which have already participated in schools or are scheduled to participate are the Democratic Party, Our Moldova Alliance, Party of Communists, Liberal Party, Christian Democratic Popular Party, Liberal Democratic Party, and Social Democratic Party. Women from all over Moldova are chosen to participate by their colleagues. Most participants are rayon level leaders of the political parties and local elected officials.
These three day schools are packed with a full schedule of training activities. Sessions include campaign techniques, policy issues of particular interest to women, roundtables with the party chairman and other party leaders, communications techniques, organizational development, and promoting more involvement of women within the party. The roundtables with party chairmen have been particularly beneficial in allowing an exchange of ideas between the national party leadership and its grassroots women leaders.
In the summer of 2008, with the 2009 parliamentary elections on the horizon, the schools have taken a more campaign-oriented turn. In addition to more emphasis on campaign techniques, IRI staff has included a presentation on the results of the Survey of Moldovan Public Opinion, March 12-28, 2007.
Many of the participants have commented on how helpful the schools are. “These types of summer schools are not only useful because of the training dimension, but also because it helps creating a good team spirit,” said Dr. Loreta Handrabura, Vice President of the Social Democratic Party and leader of its women’s organization. “The inter-personal communication is much more intense and different than the one during standard instruction-courses due to the atmosphere of the resort. This way, women improve their political skills, learn about other successes and communicate with women who share the same problems. More important is that, by changing places and seeing new faces, they get a feeling that politics and party life can be enjoyed along with the tasks and responsibilities.”
Two parties that have already participated in a school this summer – the Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party – have recently completed mergers with other parties. The schools provided the women of the parties an opportunity to get to know each other unite their efforts.
Two other relatively new parties, the Liberals and Liberal Democrats have just organized their women’s organizations this year, and the schools have helped them get off to a good start.
The purpose of the summer schools is to help develop the women’s organizations of the political parties as trained, motivated, and effective auxiliaries for their respective parties which will help advance the role of women in Moldovan politics. They will continue to be a key component of IRI’s training programs in Moldova.