Glancing around the room, it seemed that the Feb. 24 event that NDI’s Gender, Women and Democracy (GWD) team put on had a great turnout. About 60 people from the federal government, academic institutions, multilateral organizations and NGOs were present. Despite the impressive attendance, one startling detail caught my attention as everyone took their seats: nearly everyone was a woman – there was one man on the panel and only two male guests in the audience. This, to me, spoke volumes about the state of the movement for women’s empowerment and gender equality.
NDI seeks a resident director (chief of party) to implement a four-year, multi-million dollar USAID technical assistance program to improve political competition and government accountability in Cambodia. The program works to strengthen democratic systems and increase the participation and leadership of women and youth in electoral and political processes.
Recent articles by Charles Lane in the Washington Post, Thomas Friedman in the New York Times and Larry Diamond in the Journal of Democracy agree that the lack of a significant increase in the number of democracies and the measured deterioration of freedoms since 2006 means we are in a global democratic recession. They agree that what the U.S. and other democracies do will make a difference in how the recession develops. In effect, they posit that democratic resolve is being tested – both concerning the state of domestic democracy and democracy's role in international affairs. They are right about that.
Today is International Women’s Day – a day to celebrate all that women have achieved while recognizing the barriers that still stand in the way of gender equality.
This year’s theme is “Make It Happen.” Since its founding in 1983, NDI has sought to live those words by helping to give women the tools to participate, compete and lead as equal and active partners in democratic change.
On Feb. 10, I took part in a three-day Facebook #YALICHAT with young African leaders – President Obama’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of African entrepreneurs, educators, activists and innovators. After introducing myself and my work in a blog post, I took questions and comments from the YALI Network centered on the role of technology in democracy. Topics included: bridging gaps between youth and politicians online; how technology can improve transparency and government accountability; taking political action; online security; election monitoring; and using technology to empower people to become more involved in politics.
I waited in the lobby to meet my supervisor to start my first day as the project assistant for the Public Affairs team. With over 1,000 employees, 60 field offices and programs in over 70 countries, I had a lot to learn about the organization. The first week in a new position can be overwhelming, but human resources put together a project assistant orientation that made my transition fun and smooth.
New democracies often get stuck when fair elections, active civic groups, independent media, party competition and constitutional checks on power still don’t produce better government. Instead, corruption, political conflict and other problems can fester and upend the notion that democracy does in fact make life better.
This is the situation in Albania, which ditched communism in 1990. While making huge strides in the 25 years since, Albania nonetheless is mired in bad politics that leaves people wondering if its new democratic order can make government function as it should.
I would like to be the first to welcome you to NDI’s new blog, DemocracyWorks. This platform is a place for NDI staff to share stories about the inspirational, exciting and demanding work of supporting democracy around the globe.
The seventh Summit of the Americas will take place in Panama City on April 10. Unlike other summits, Panama 2015 will provide a structured opportunity for civil society leaders throughout the region, including independent voices from Cuba, to engage the assembled government leaders. Representatives of civic organizations and individual social actors who wish to attend need to register now on an Organization of American States website.
Presenting the analysis of election day observation to the right audience is a critical component of citizen monitoring organizations’ outreach strategies, and one of which NDI has provided technical assistance to partners on for decades. In some countries where NDI works, Facebook has become synonymous with the Internet, and the use of Facebook for election day outreach has become an increasingly useful tool for communicating with certain audiences.