It’s not everyday that we get to share the personal stories of people who want to run for office and serve their country.

Much of our work focuses on supporting aspiring candidates through workshops or helping elected officials engage citizens but storytelling sometimes gets lost in the day-to-day work we do. Our partners in Mongolia expressed a need for more citizens to understand the challenges they face – and they wanted us to help tell their story. Our documentary, Leveling the Playing Field, seeks to do just that. The women featured in the film all chose to run for office – an ambitious feat in any country – but one that is all the more impressive when you consider the additional challenges women in Mongolia face.

Increasing women’s meaningful participation, voice and influence in the political system and its institutions is critical to achieving a truly representative democracy. For the more than 1.5 million Mongolian women who deserve equal access to political processes and equal opportunity to serve as elected representatives – changes in political parties, media and public perception are necessary to level the playing field and make equality possible. Supporting an equitable political system is a core element of IRI’s mission to advance democracy worldwide.

The women you hear from in the film are business leaders, politicians, civic activists, public figures, mothers, daughters and sisters – and they all have one thing in common – they wanted to serve their country and have their voices heard. Though there are more women than ever in the State Great Hural – the struggle for equality has not yet been won.

They described their struggles to juggle multiple responsibilities at home and at work while running for office, the legal and systemic challenges borne by late changes to the political system, how traditional gender viewpoints hinder engagement with constituents and how financing – or lack thereof – can make or break a campaign. If you watch the film, you’ll see first hand, what it’s like to be on the road campaigning and hear from those engaged in all aspects of the political process about the issues Mongolian women face and how they’d like to see their system change.

I’d like to thank all of our subjects – especially our six candidates, MP Saranchimeg, Ms. Oyungerel, Ms. Badamkhand, Ms. Munkhsoyol, Ms. Narantuya and Ms. Selenge – for giving us a personal window into their campaigns. We were privileged to join them for the ride and are glad that we can share their stories to contribute to and enrich the conversation about gender equity and equal opportunity.

This film is a key initiative under our “Supporting Women’s Participation in Elections” project funded by Global Affairs Canada, a multi-faceted initiative that has worked with a majority of newly elected female parliamentarians and provincial representatives and has shared information about civic rights with hundreds of thousands of Mongolians. “Leveling the Playing Field” is not meant just to be shown online – we want this film to reach people everywhere – fueling meaningful conversations about equality nationwide and maybe even encouraging women to seek office themselves.


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