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Women in politics - experiences from Green leaders

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The Global Greens Women's Network held its first webinar on 16 April. If you missed hearing it live, listen to the presentations now.

Click here to listen, and the transcript is copied below.

Our wonderful speakers from around the world are:

  • Metiria Turei - Member of the New Zealand Parliament and co-leader of the Green Party
  • Maria Wetterstrand - Former spokesperson for 9 years in Sweden, former Member of Parliament
  • Julia Duppre - Former Parliamentary Candidate for Rio de Janeiro in Brazil
  • Robinah K. Nanyunja - Former Parliamentary Candidate for Kawempe North for the 2016 Uganda National elections
  • Moderator: Keli Yen - Global Greens Coordinator

We will be presenting more webinars in the coming months and organising an event for the Global Greens Women's Network at Greens 2017. Join our mailing list so you don't miss out.

Will you help Greens2017 change politics? Make a one-off donation or become a FROGG and support the Global Greens with a regular monthly donation.

Transcript:

The webinar began with each telling their story how how they became involved in the Greens.

Metiria Turei became engaged in politics during the unemployed rights movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  It was a period of significant unrest in New Zealand which directly impacted her family.  In 2000 Metiria joined the Green Party because she identified with the people who led the party who were also part of the unemployed rights movement.  In 2002 Metiria became one of the eight Greens to enter parliament from the electoral list.  In 2009 Metiria became Co-Leader of the Green Party.

Gender diversity in the Leadership positions of the Green Party is a great way of structuring gender equity into our social and political system, says Metiria.  Although the Parliamentary system found it difficult at first to accept gender equity as a critical part of our political practice; other political parties eventually followed the Green Party’s practice with the Maori Party also having co-leaders of different genders.

One of the great things about the Greens, says Metiria, is that we’re the only party in the New Zealand parliament who has a majority of women MPs, demonstrating how the Greens are again leading by good example.

Maria Wetterstrand served as a Member of Parliament during a time when the Swedish Greens were in coalition with the Social Democrats. During this time Maria also had children while serving in Parliament, and explained that she managed the demands of work and family by working very hard during the workweek and prioritising her children on the weekends.  

For Maria, being a Green MP at the age of 27 presented more problems for her than her gender.  “I worked hard to fight the prejudices against Greens” as well as being an example encouraging more women to run in politics.”  Maria’s Green leadership seems to be part of a change occurring in other parties as well with now three other Swedish parties also having young mothers in leadership positions.

Julie Duppre joined the Green Party when she was 19 years old and her parents founded the Green Party in Rio de Janeiro.  The diversity of the region, from North, Central to South America, including within each country is makes solidarity, particularly among women,  both challenging and very important, says Julia.  Each of Brazil’s twenty-seven states has a Green Party secretariat responsible for developing the collaboration among women across the country.  “I feel strong in this community,” says Julia, and “we have the job to change the world.”

Robinah Nanyunja became the Ecological Party of Uganda’s (EPU) Vice President in 2010 and in following years became the President of the EPU, Treasurer of the African Green Federation, and Secretary General of the East African Green Federation.  In 2016 Robinah contested as a parliamentary candidate for Kawempe North Constituency in the Uganda national elections in which the candidates were five men and one woman.  

The challenges Robinah experienced include a commercialization of politics, financial constraints, intimidation, bribery, an unawareness by the electorate of what to expect from leaders, and a cultural mindset that women are not supposed to compete with men in politics.

In order to overcome the challenges, Robinah established social networks for mentorship, for financial support, and for enhance civic education in what to expect from leaders.

 

Discussion points:

  • I think the political system, and the institutions, must adjust to the fact that politicians are also humans.  I think the expectation for politicians to work everyday all year round does not make better politicians.
  • The Co-leaders/spokesperson have to work together closely.  It’s in both their interests to make sure that the access to media and opportunity is equitable.  It’s a relationship-based way of engaging in politics; it takes time and resources but it’s also an important contribution that the Green Party makes to global politics.  The way you want things to be, is the way to do things.
  • I became a Green because of the inequalities in society.  I never really see myself as a female politician because that’s not the most important part of my identity.  However I see that women really do not have the same opportunities as men because they have to prove themselves more than men to get into power.  In politics though I prioritise issues like climate change and addressing inequalities between rich and the poor.
  • People come to politics for a lot of reasons.  I don’t think we should apologise at all for our commitment to gender issues.  I’m a strong advocate for reclaiming the connection between social & environmental justice and the role of everybody to have an identity.  

 

How to get involved in the Global Greens Women’s Network:

 

Questions?  

Contact the Global Greens Secretariat at: [email protected]

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