On Wednesday September 16, 2015 the League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area (LWVCA) hosted an exchange with visitors from six countries through the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. The visit, which was coordinated by the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council, highlighted perspectives on youth participation in elections, women’s rights and democracy in action.
Janice Alvarado, Nancy Dawley, Burt Roehr, and Liz Shockey represented the League at the event. International participants included journalists, political leaders, and activists from Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.
After brief introductions, the meeting opened with a history of the League of Women Voters and the organization’s current role in education and advocacy. Visitors asked questions and offered insights from their own countries. Some questions included: What are the challenges for women today? Why is youth participation in elections so low? How does the League influence the political process?
Visitors from Egypt, Ahmed Bakr and Tamim Heikal discussed the role of women in their country and workplace equality. While Shatha Hammad of the Palestinian territories shared her perspective on the difficulty for women in obtaining higher roles in her native region, but that women were present in all sectors.
The role of women in government, it was pointed out by one of the Iraqi participants, was protected by the country’s new constitution which ensures that there must be at least 25 percent representation by women in parliament and local councils.
Addressing the presence of women in politics, Burt Roehr shared how the League has helped to train women interested in pursuing political careers. She mentioned involvement with the Girl Scouts in the Girls Run the World campaign. Sana Rahali from Tunisia discussed her involvement in a Tunisian women’s organization in helping to elect seven female candidates to parliament.
Act One is one of the key initiatives sponsored by the LWVCA to encourage youth participation in democracy. Act One is a joint initiative by the LWVCA and Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati and is open to men and women, ages 18 to 40. It provides networking opportunities, mentoring, and free membership to both organizations.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan, grassroots political organization that works at the local, state, and national levels. Our mission is to encourage informed and active participation in government, to work to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and to influence public policy through education and advocacy. Click here for more info.
Written by: Liz Shockey, League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area