BRIDGE ARRIVES IN MONGOLIA
‘Gender Perspectives and Youth Participation on Elections and Political Finance’ – Two Hybrid BRIDGE Modules in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia June, 2018.
Mongol leader Chinggis Khaan said in the 11th century “Conquering the world on horseback is easy; it is dismounting and governing that is hard” – relevant as ever in modern-day democratic Mongolia. Following a peaceful revolution in 1990, Mongolia began holding multiparty elections, but widespread corruption hinders development and democratic progress. Women and youth, the largest groups in Mongolia, struggle to participate fully in the political life of the country, though many women and youth are members of political parties. Young people and women in Mongolia lack general knowledge on how to leverage political finance to achieve a more level playing field for themselves within their parties and in contesting election.
In this context, International IDEA is implementing the ‘Level Up: Political financing with integrity project in Mongolia’ programme in cooperation with the Open Society Forum (OSF), that aims to improve political finance regulatory frameworks in a way that empower women and young politicians and that protect the integrity of public policy making from the influence exerted by money in politics.
The two two-day BRIDGE modules held in Mongolia in June 2018 are the first BRIDGE workshops to be held in Mongolia:
- Political Finance and Women’s Empowerment (18-19 June) – targeting women from political parties (all 20 participants were women)
- Political Finance and Youth Empowerment (21-22 June) – targeting youth from political parties (all 10 participants under 35 years old, mixed gender)
The objective of the workshops was to introduce the main principles, structures and institutions underlying a credible and workable political financing regulatory framework, especially relating to the inclusion of youth and women. It also aimed to create a venue for sharing experiences and good practices on how best to promote the participation of youth and women in electoral and political processes in election and political processes more broadly.
The workshops comprised participants each from five main political parties: Mongolian People’s Party, Democratic Party, Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party, Civil Will Party and Hun/Labour Party. The workshop content was essentially the same for each workshop, with nuanced differences for the different target groups and different focus of each workshop; women and youth. Topics included: An introduction to BRIDGE; international standards and best practices in creation of an inclusive environment throughout the electoral cycle; political financing including campaign financing regulations to promote women’s and youth participations; the status of political finance and gender equality and youth participation in politics in Mongolia; and current reforms proposed for Mongolia law.
The workshops were facilitated by Yvonne Goudie (BRIDGE facilitator) and supported by local experts: Enkhtsetseg Dagva, Open Society Forum, Zolzaya (Zola) Batkhuyag, Director and Co-Founder, Women for Change NGO, and Dr Gerelt-Od Erdenebileg, Director, Office of International Relations, Mongolian National University of Education. The workshop was managed by Battuul Baterdene, Program Coordinator in Mongolia, International IDEA and the support team from OSF. The venue was the OSF premises.
Participants highly appreciated the workshop content and methodology. Throughout the workshop participants were actively engaged. The participatory methodology was a novelty for this audience, including the local experts. Whilst initially slightly reticent, the participants quickly warmed to the methodology and commented in the evaluations that they enjoyed the methodology as much as they enjoyed learning new knowledge. The participatory methods included: speed debating, values clarification, fishbowl and development café. The experts and several participants commented that they would use these methods in their own organisations.
Feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Participants mentioned that the workshop helped them better understand the issues relating to political finance and potential regulations to manage the issues in Mongolia. Many also commented that they learned a lot about international principles and the need for their parties to become more inclusive for women, youth, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups.
The workshop demonstrated an excellent networking platform for the participants from the different political parties; participants demonstrated their readiness to have an open and constructive dialog, and a desire for continued cooperation to build on the common ground they identified during the workshop.
While the workshops met their objectives, it is important to build on the achievements of the workshops. Several suggestions were made to achieve longer lasting impact, including conducting more BRIDGE workshops (with more members of the main political parties and by conducting more workshops), and for OSF to host cross-party informal meetings, dialogues and further trainings and seminars. Based on the positive outcomes of these workshops, BRIDGE will hopefully a bright future in in Mongolia.