“The value of fellow female support was an important lesson drawn from the training. Everyone realized that helping peers could enhance the position of women in politics.”
Anita de Horde is Press Officer and Campaign Coordinator of the Dutch GreenLeft party in the European Parliament. Together with politician Brigitte van der Burg, Member of Parliament for the Dutch Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), she travelled to Ghana for NIMD to give training on the ins and outs of campaigning, specifically aimed at women.
"Africa in itself was already new and excit to me. I had never been there before. The fact that the training was aimed at women, was particularly interesting, as the empowerment of women is the most efficient way to speed up development.’ So she immediately accepted NIMD’s invitation to contribute in preparing Ghanaian women with political aspirations for the elections in December,says ‘How to convince people to vote for you?, seemed the first logical question’, Anita de Horde explains, ‘but it remained awfully quiet. We proposed the 17 candidates several answers, which some copied vigorously. I then asked them to focus on their constituency: what is necessary in your district?
To this, they answered practically: “we want to build new roofs, improve the housing conditions, hand out condoms”. Brigitte then stepped in and suggested that as a politician you should not merely seek to bring projects to your region, but also contribute to policy and lawmaking.’ ‘I talked about what you can and cannot do and achieve as a Member of Parliament’, explains Brigitte van der Burg, number 4 on the list of the VVD. ‘I had also recently studied this, as I am new in Parliament.’ Brigitte van der Burg has made an incredible step, not having worked in politics but immediately attaining her number 4 spot. ‘I experienced what these women were about to experience.
“Who is this woman?”, I heard people think, when I entered the political arena. I had to make clear who I was, why I wanted to be in politics and what my focus points would be - to convince first my party and then for the larger audience, what I would do for the VVD.’ ‘”Poor but bold” was one of the slogans the women made in an afternoon workshop I led’, Anita de Horde reminisces. ‘Money was a big issue. The impression amongst some participants existed that after participation in the two-day training, they would go home with campaign funding. A Ghanaian woman, a lecturer at the University of Accra, led a session on fundraising. Not just actual money, but also support in kind. She gave the participants concrete advice. “If your uncle, brother or brother-in-law owns a cab, let him carry your picture on this car.” Responding to ladies’ request for money, she posed them a question: “Would you prefer to have a mango or mango seeds?”’.