Project name: Practice Parliament
Outcome areas: Leadership and decision making
Project partner: UN Women
Total funding: $200,000*
Funding timeframe: 2016–2017
In preparation for Nauru’s election in June 2016, 30 women and men from Nauru’s 14 districts participated in a Women’s Practice Parliament initiative. As well as role playing as members of the government and opposition in a debate of a mock bill, the participants also learned about transformational leadership in a workshop supported by Pacific Women and UN Women.
The activity developed the skills and knowledge of women confirmed as candidates in the June elections; those still considering running in this or future elections, and those aspiring for other leadership roles in the community. Male allies supportive of increasing women’s political participation also participated.
The workshop helped participants in understanding transformational leadership and the existence of inequality when it comes to power sharing and decision making.
Transformational leaders trust and listen to their supporters and as a result, they inspire and empower those around them to be their best.
For Ms Gabrissa Hartman and Ms Kay Aliklik, it was the first time that they had learned about the concept. Following the training they said: ‘If you are someone who aspires to become a leader, you have to be a transformational leader’.
The response to the training was positive, particularly from male participants. In several cases they became less defensive in discussions about gender inequality and changed some of their views about gender.
At first, women like Ms Hartman and Ms Aliklik found it interesting that men were involved in the training. However, by the end they expressed the view that it was the best move.
‘It gave the males more understanding of all the issues that women had to go through. This is a way of giving them a better chance to understand us and for us to share all our ideas with the men. So basically it was a great idea having the men as advocates for us in the house and out in the community. It’ll be just a waste of time we women campaigning for our needs and rights, and the men not understanding our concerns.’
At the beginning of the training, most participants expressed doubts about approaches such as Temporary Special Measures to assist women to access leadership opportunities. At the end of the training, all participants women and men were more supportive of getting more women in Parliament and in leadership roles more generally, including advocating for temporary special measures to create a level playing field.