IFES Ecuador and Fundación Esquel Launch Program for Gender Parity in Ecuador
On May 19, 2022, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and its local partner Fundación Esquel Ecuador officially launched their project, “Democracy, political organizations and gender: From legal parity to substantive parity.” This is part of the “Building Technical Capacity and Public Confidence in Ecuador’s Electoral System” program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
IFES and Esquel have partnered since early 2022, designing and implementing a program that promotes gender parity in Ecuadorian politics by working directly with political organizations and providing training for aspiring women leaders. The launch of Esquel’s training program marks the beginning of the second component of the program, which consists of a series of training and capacity-building sessions for women members of political organizations in Ecuador. The launch event took place in Quito and gathered 29 women who are either aspiring candidates for the upcoming elections or who are leading initiatives within political organizations.
IFES’ Country Director in Ecuador, Mauricio Dorfler, delivered the opening remarks and stressed IFES’ commitment to the promotion of inclusive democracies, and especially the importance of gender parity within political organizations. He was joined by Cecilia Lincango, Esquel's Gender and Diversity Coordinator, to welcome the participants to the program.
The launch event included a series of activities to establish rapport among participants and highlight the importance of women’s political participation at all levels of government. Initial activities were complemented by a dialogue on “Women in Politics” and by a deeper group reflection session which addressed issues such as participants’ goals in politics and the impact women can have on political systems and practices. At the end of the activity, the group’s observations, aspirations and goals were placed on a map of Ecuador, symbolizing the importance of participants’ political participation to the entire country.
The launch event concluded with information on next steps in Esquel’s training program, forthcoming discussion topics and the use of Esquel’s online training platform. Participants also expressed their commitment to following through with the program, as well as their intention to stay involved in subsequent components of IFES’ and Esquel’s project. According to the testimonial of one participant, “multi-party processes are very important because that is how we discover common ground to reach agreements.” This statement highlights the project's aim to address gender parity as a transversal objective that concerns everyone, no matter differences in political ideologies. The empowerment and visibility focus of the project was particularly appreciated by participants, one of whom affirmed that they would bring back lessons learned to their organizations and "be a sounding board for other women who participate in politics.”
This article is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under Award No. AID-OAA-L-15-00007. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.
Published June 23, 2022.