As part of the celebration of International Women’s Day 2015, NDI’s Political Parties and Gender, Women and Democracy teams held a crowdsourcing and networking event on Twitter called a “TweetTalk” to share ideas, best practices and lessons learned when helping to engage more women in political parties.
As the Cold War came to a close, renowned political scientist, professor and author, Francis Fukuyama, proclaimed the end of history. He said humankind had reached the endpoint of its “ideological evolution,” and Western liberal democracy had won out as the “final form of human government." At around the same time, another influential political scientist, Samuel P. Huntington wrote that the world was in the middle of a “third wave” of democratic expansion. But 23 years later, the third democratic wave has hit a wall. According to Larry Diamond, founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy, the rapid democratic expansion, which began in the 1970s and continued until 2005, is now in recession.
It has been a year since Luis María Duarte – a member of NDI’s 2014 Afghanistan election observation mission – was killed during a terrorist attack on the Serena Hotel in Kabul. Luis, from Asuncion, Paraguay, was a long-time member of NDI’s global community and had been part of the Institute’s election missions in several countries. Beloved as a colleague and friend by so many across the globe, his death was a tremendous shock and loss to the elections community worldwide.
Late last month, a guest on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show told him: “Wherever we go...there is always something” stopping women from following their dreams. The guest? Not a firebrand feminist, but the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde. Her comments came as the IMF released a new report detailing the positive effect women’s economic empowerment has on our world: in short, when women are able to participate in the economy as equal members of the labor force, life improves for everyone. This may not be shocking new information—at least for those of us interested in the topic—but the report presents much-needed evidence to support its findings.
Guided by the principle that timely and reliable information about electoral preparations and early warning signs can mitigate the spread of electoral violence, Nigerian Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM) member Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) launched a unique Pre-Election Observation, PREO, ahead of the nation’s long-anticipated general elections.
DemTools are a set of open-source solutions developed by NDI’s Technology for Democracy team (NDItech) to address some of democracy’s most common problems. The tools, which were released in August to NDI partners, the development community and general public, focus on scalability – providing advanced technologies to make their work more effective, while reducing maintenance and sustainability burdens. NDI recently received a renewed National Endowment for Democracy grant for the continued development and expansion of DemTools. In deciding where and how to allocate these funds, we reviewed current features and updated our roadmap for product development and version release timelines. We determined that better support, enhanced multilingual capacity and increased usability were priorities across all of the tools.
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.