On 18 June 2015, the first Politics Plus Women in Politics Leadership Programme, delivered in association with DemocraShe, drew to a close.
Over six interactive sessions, participants learned a host of new skills and engaged in lively discussion. Topics included effective leadership, strategic networking, ethics, community planning and parliamentary caucuses, among many others.
Participants described the sessions as ‘challenging, provocative and enjoyable’, ‘empowering to women leaders’, ‘a safe space to explore gender issues and promote solidarity on a cross party basis’ and, simply, ‘essential’. One added that she ‘didn’t expect to learn so much’ during the programme and enjoyed ‘being challenged, thinking in a different way’. Many spoke of how the programme had enhanced their confidence and inspired them to aim for a seat in the Assembly at the next election, with one remarking succinctly that her next step is ‘MLA 2016!’.
Participants were particularly grateful to have the opportunity to meet women from a range of other political parties and be exposed to opinions different to their own. Indeed, one participant noted that she exited the programme with ‘a more balanced perspective’, while another added that she left with ‘a lot of food for thought’.
In light of the success of the programme, it will be offered again in during the 2015-2016 parliamentary term and supported by further networking events to build upon the relationships that have been developed.