Kyrgyzstan – 23. February 2021

"Leadership School for Local Councils’ Women Candidates" to prepare women to run the local elections

19 February 2021 – A training for the preparation of female candidates for the upcoming local elections scheduled for April was successfully completed in the town of Cholpon-Ata. The training was conducted with support of the “Public Service Improvement” Project, financed by the Government of Switzerland through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by Helvetas Kyrgyzstan and the Development Policy Institute.

The main goal of the training is to train women candidates in leadership skills and participation in electoral processes in two project (Jalal-Abad and Issyk-Kul) regions and thus contribute to increasing the participation and representation of women in local council elections. The training was attended by 29 female candidates from 11 project municipalities of the Issyk-Kul region selected on the basis of competition.

During three days of the intensive training women were acquainted with the most important topics and extensive information on leadership and effective communication skills with population, as well as information about the legal framework of the Kyrgyz Republic regulating the basis and system of local self-government bodies. Having been introduced to the strategies of development and implementation of pre-election programs and following campaigning on the third day, the participants independently developed and presented their pre-election programs and plans for their implementation. The participants were also informed about the 30% quota for women in local councils and the rules of registration and campaigning in accordance with the requirements of the CEC (Central Election Commission) and the Law of the Kyrgyz Republic “On the election of deputies of local councils”.

Most participants stated that they were facing many obstacles in expressing their willingness to run the elections. Some of the participants mentioned the embedded stereotypes about  “no place for women in politics”, while others mentioned the regular criticism  regarding their age: young women are excluded under the pretext of the lack of experience and knowledge, whereas the elder women are asked to give way to the youth and stay home with grandchildren. In some cases, even if they are supported and asked to nominate their candidacy, they still have doubts in their abilities and knowledge.

But the knowledge gained during the three-day training, as spotlighted by women, helped them to increase their confidence and determination in running campaign in the local elections. One of the participants pointed out that rural women in many cases were deprived of access to information, did not possess knowledge about local budget or financial literacy. Due to these reasons they experience the difficulty of taking part in respective processes at the local level. Another participant highlighted that it was the poor level of living conditions of the village residents that pushed her to run the elections and become a deputy. In her speech about the Leadership School she said:

“I work as a professor at the К. Tynystanov University in Karakol town. Despite my work in the town, I lived all my life in a village. I decided to run the elections to the local council based on my observations on how the life of the population in the village has been deteriorating, especially for women. Because I believe that women are more responsible and always complete the initiated activities. They look at any problem as through a magnifying glass and see the finest complexities and try to solve them. Therefore, they must participate in decision-making processes at the local level" - Asanalieva Kiyal, the October AA.

On the last day of the training, participants shared their feedback on the Leadership School for Local Councils’ Women Candidates and noted that the content of the School program exceeded their expectations. Among the participants there were several members of local councils who, in turn, also acknowledged that they had had a dearth of knowledge about the mentioned topics, despite their work as in the local councils. Ainura Omurkanova, a deputy in the “October” local council, expressed her gratitude to the organizers of the training and noted the following:

“I am the only woman among 21 deputies in the local council of the “October” municipality. When I became a deputy first time, no one taught us, and we assumed office without any knowledge about the activities of deputies or the system of local self-government bodies. We had to learn as we work and study the laws on our own. For me, the lack of such knowledge was also a kind of barrier impeding my successful work. But today, after a three-day training, I can say with confidence that I gained knowledge about effective communications with the population, the rules for running an election campaign (without violating the Law), and the most important topics for me were the process of forming  local budget, functions and duties of deputies as people`s representatives.”

The project representatives and trainers believe that at the moment it is important to assist women candidates in their preparations for the elections in local councils regardless of their age. Thus, the main task of the Project is to support women throughout the entire process by providing consultations following the completion of the Leadership School. Next week, from 25 to 27 February, the Leadership School for Local Councils’ Women Candidates will be held in the project municipalities of the Jalal-Abad region. As a result of the competition, 41 women were selected for the participation in the School.