Women political leaders from around the world last night announced the formation of an international organization designed to enhance the role of women in national governments.
After two days of intensive discussion at the K-School, led by IOP Fellow and former Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, members of the International Institute for Women's Political Leadership (IIWPL) said that women had similar problems breaking into main-stream politics and would benefit by meeting with each other to discuss campaign and governing strategies. The plan was unveiled last night at an event sponsored by IOP Forum.
"We are designing a global blueprint which will define ways for women to exercise political leadership around the world," Ferraro, the president of the IIWPL, said last night. "The Institute wants to help women take their rightful place in politics."
Ferraro said the new organization, which will be housed in Washington, D.C., would help women enter politics by providing them with technical assistance and education in politics and economics. She said the organization would begin to assemble a global database with information about women in government.
The IIWPL, which is a non-membership organization, has no official connection to the K-School and will have no partisan affiliation, Ferarro said.
Prominent women politicians, who joined Ferraro for this week's meetings as members of the organization's board of directors, spoke at last night's forum, offering insights from their own experience about women's experience in politics.
"In Africa, we stand very far behind in political development," said Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the former minister of finance in Liberia.
Astrid Heiberg, a member of the Norwegian Parliament, described a dichotomy in Norwegian politics along the lines of gender, saying that men and women are expected to have different characteristics.
"A woman should be quiet, calm, mild, and understanding, and you should always have the time to listen to men and children," Heiberg said.
Heiberg, who is also a psychiatrist, said men like to take the floor of Parliament without having anything to say, just to establish their own territory.
"They are like dogs who go and pee around the corners," the member of parliament said. "They stand up and I say 'here we go again. He's peeing.'"
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