The International Republican Institute (IRI) trained female leaders from political parties in Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzgovina, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.  The training, held in Budva, Montenegro from October 12-15, 2007, was the 16th session of IRI’s Leadership Institute for Central and Eastern Europe (LICEE), and the first conducted in cooperation with the Women’s Democracy Network.  Participants included youth leaders, city and regional council members, advisers to European parliamentarians and grassroots activists.  

Part of an ongoing effort to provide training and professional development opportunities to young, up-and-coming leaders of Central and Eastern Europe, this special LICEE session focused exclusively on young women.  Volunteer trainers from the United States, Austria and Germany presented their experience in developing and implementing campaign strategy, communications efforts and volunteer programs.  Cases studies included Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign for Governor of California, Wolfgang Schuessel’s successful campaign for the Austrian Chancellorship and Angela Merkel’s 2005 victory in the race to become Germany’s Chancellor.  

“This training was excellently organized and offered very good trainers, interesting examples, and useful training on campaign fundraising,” noted Jelena Skundric, a representative from Serbia’s G17+ party.

Participants – all of whom are embarking on careers in politics in their home countries – worked in groups to draft a 30-second television advertisement and to outline a strategy for placing these ads.  The young leaders also discussed the strengths and weaknesses of women in politics, and applied this understanding to their own political careers.  The training ended with a review of the Women’s Democracy Network’s activities and how to get involved.

“This was what we need – an open dialogue, honest communication, and deeper cooperation to foster democratic processes in our countries,” said Elena Ruskova, member of Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria  “The world of politics is different and probably better now, after 40 smart and successful women became a part of it.”

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