European Political Mentoring Network

EWL European Political Mentoring Network

Karima Zahi joined the European Women’s Lobby as Policy Officer and Project Coordinator in March 2013. Karima coordinates the Mentoring Network Project and works on gender equality, anti-discrimination, immigration and integration of migrant women. This week, we launched the European Political Mentoring Network. This is Karima’s account of the week.

(Brussels, 12 April 2013) The European Women’s Lobby officially launched its European Political Mentoring Network on 09 April in Brussels. The mentoring network is the first of its kind at European level and it is inspired by a political mentoring programme developed by KVINFO in Denmark.

malika benarab attou 150In her speech launching the event at the European Parliament, MEP Malika Benarab-Attou acknowledged the barriers that women from ethnic minorities face when seeking to be elected and stated that "there is a need to raise awareness among women, and particularly women from ethnic minorities, that it is possible for them to run for the European elections. The starting point for each woman is to say to herself ’I have the right and the ability to be a candidate’. In this sense, political mentoring is a useful tool to enable women to acquire the necessary competences and build networks".

EWL’s President, Viviane Teitelbaum spoke of the EWL’s pride and commitment to offering women from ethnic minorities the tools to overcome the challenges of participating in political life at European level, through this pioneering mentoring project and within the framework of the EWL’s 50/50 Campaign. Ms Teitelbaum applauded the 11 MEP mentors across political parties in the network as well as the numerous MEPs who have supported the project from its conception for "walking the walk" gurmai lunacek 250 when it comes to promoting parity democracy (the equal representation of women in men in decision-making). MEP Zita Gurmai (S & D Hungary, pictured here to the right, with fellow mentor MEP Ulrike Lunacek), one of the mentors, underlined that it was high time to stop paying lip-service to parity democracy and diversity at the European Parliament, and to implement concrete actions in order to achieve progress in women’s political representation.

For one mentee in the network, Sanchia Alasia, the day was especially significant since she was confirmed on the UK Labour Party list for the European elections as a candidate for London. Eleven mentees who are politically active in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, The Netherlands, Sweden and the UK attended the launch and a three-day capacity building programme which gave them the opportunity to shadow their mentor during their meetings at the European Parliament and to take part in training on populism and communications. The mentoring project will run until May 2014 in preparation for the June 2014 European elections. Throughout the duration of the project the mentees will communicate and meet regularly with their respective mentor and participate in three different capacity building sessions. Mentees will continue to shadow their mentor at Committee meetings in the European Parliament in Brussels and in a plenary session in Strasbourg. The European Political Mentoring project is funded by the Open Society Foundation and the European Commission.

political mentoring launch breakfast

(Left to right: Karima Zahi, EWL Political Mentoring Network Coordinator, Britta Thompson MEP, Mocja Kleva MEP, Edit Bauer MEP, Zita Gurmai MEP, Beatriz Hernandez de Furh, trainer from KVINFO Mentoring Network in Denmark, and Ulrike Lunacek’s Parliamentary Assistant)

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