Strong and inclusive democratic processes are critical to all aspects of a country’s development, from improving economic outcomes to increasing access to human rights. The most resilient democracies are those that promote women’s equal and active participation throughout the political process including as elected representatives, community leaders and policy advocates. Unfortunately, in too many countries, women are underrepresented as decision makers.
"She Leads," a flagship program of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), works to empower women with the skills and knowledge to participate and take on leadership roles in political and electoral processes through a series of beginner, intermediate and advanced trainings. To date, "She Leads" has trained over 7500 women in eight countries and continues to expand. Each program is tailored to the cultural and contextual needs of the country, and reflects lessons learned from successful "She Leads" alumnae. As a result of the program, "She Leads" alumnae have developed formal and informal personal networks, increased their self-confidence and taken on leadership roles to advance women’s political participation.
As part of the "She Leads Sri Lanka" program, IFES worked with a local youth group, Hashtag Generation, to develop a social media campaign that aimed to reverse the stigma against women leaders ahead of Sri Lanka’s local government election. See one of the videos here.
"She Leads" was developed through the generous support of the United States Agency for International Development, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, Australia’s Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Switzerland’s Agency for Development and Cooperation. Katie Ryan is the lead author of the program with contributions from Sarah Bibler, Vasu Mohan and Maura Scully. Special recognition goes to Puskapol, Yaung Chi Thit, and VBNK for their contributions as IFES’ local partners and to the IFES teams in Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.