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Posts from the ‘Malawi’ Category

To friends and partners of DIPD


DEPPYN: Maiken Kristensen (LAU), Mahmoud Said (Egypt Freedom) & Ahmed El-Sayed (Egypt Freedom)

Dear friends and partners of DIPD.

Among many inspiring events during 2016, we would like to mention a few highlight: Danish youth politicians visited Myanmar; two regional Women in Politics seminars in Myanmar and Nepal; politicians from Danish municipalities conducted trainings in Kathmandu; party representatives from Palestine, Swaziland, Bhutan, Tanzania and Bolivia visited Denmark.

However, it has been a year of much suffering around the world. The Nordic and Global Political Party Peer Meeting took place at Utøya, where 69 young people meeting in the Social Democratic youth wing were killed in 2011. Welcoming us, the former Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonas Gahr Støre, stressed the importance of protecting the democratic space and values that underpin our work.

Let that be a reminder to all of us that we are part of a global community committed to finding peaceful and democratic solutions to the challenges facing societies and humanity.

On behalf of the DIPD Team, I wish you an enjoyable and peaceful holiday period!


Cooperating for a democratic future

In late November 2016, a cross-political delegation with representatives from the Liberal Party and the Socialist People’s party (SF) and their youth organizations travelled to Malawi to meet with the five parties represented in Malawi’s parliament. This is Vice-Chairman in SF Tonni Hansen’s report from the visit.

This article is written by Vice-Chairman in the Socialist People’s Party (SF) Tonni Hansen.

Being politically active has provided me with many joys and challenges. But that I might have been involved in the rewriting of a nation’s history, is something that I never imagined.

The Liberal Party (Venstre) and the Socialist People’s Party (SF) have joined forces to establish a democracy partnership in Malawi. It is one of the world’s poorest countries, with a democracy formed as recently as 1994.

From Denmark, Benedikte Ask Skotte (Liberal Party), Anders Bach Hellerøe (Liberal Youth), Anja Søndergaard (SF Youth) and Marianne Victor Hansen (project leader at SF) joined me on a trip to Malawi, where we had the chance to share how we have developed political youth organizations, and how closely the mother and youth parties now cooperate, while the youth still maintain control of their own political work.

SF Vice-Chairman Tonni Hansen sharing experiences in Malawi.

SF Vice-Chairman Tonni Hansen sharing experiences in Malawi.

In Malawi, we had the chance to meet all five parties represented in Parliament and their young members. We “grown-ups” shared how the Liberal Youth and SF Youth are organized and how they work. We shared how our mother parties approach the collaboration with the youth and the benefits we see in having strong and independent youth parties. Afterwards, the participants formed groups on which they shared challenges and worked together on suggestions for solutions. We finished the day with us “grown-ups” arranging a mock press conference, where we interviewed the party leaders on how they and their party leaderships will take action on the issues the youth had brought up during the day.

Considering that most of the participants are either born or raised in a dictatorship-like one-party system, it was fantastic to experience the commitment they show for developing their own democracy.

Anja Søndergaard (SF Youth) & Anders Bach Hellerøe (Liberal Youth) during visit to Malawi.

Anja Søndergaard (SF Youth) & Anders Bach Hellerøe (Liberal Youth) during visit to Malawi.

Malawi’s young politicians are highly impressive: they defy the structures, the history and their predefined prospects. They have both the will and the ability to form their own future, and they bear the impatience of youth.

After our 3-day “road show”, we were left encouraged by our meeting with the people of this friendly and accommodating country. On our last joint meeting with the party leaderships, we established a forward-looking dialogue on the importance of including youth in democracy.

On the last day of our visit, we participated in a “Youth Camp”, where the participants practiced writing party statutes.

The Liberal Party and the Socialist People's Party together with their partners in Malawi.

The Liberal Party and the Socialist People’s Party together with their partners in Malawi.

Every part of the visit went way beyond my expectations. We were told that we contributed to the rewriting of history in Malawi and that the five political parties’ youth organizations will be established within the next year with inspiration from the Danish experiences, we shared. The parties were so happy with our work, that they invited us back in August or September 2017, so they could show us their progress and we could continue our dialogue on how to involve youth in politics in Malawi.

Even though Malawi is far from Denmark, the wish for democracy is universal and therefor equally relevant wherever in the world you are. And even though Benedikte and Anders represented a different ideology than Anja and myself, we still had a fantastic trip in each other’s company, as we are all formed by a shared understanding of the value of a well-functioning democracy.

Tonni Hansen, Vice-Chairman, Socialist People’s Party

YOUTH WINGS: Working together to strengthen youth involvement.

YOUTH WING: Working together to strengthen youth involvement.

More information

Read more about the Liberal Party and the Socialist People’s Party’s ongoing partnership with CMD Malawi and the five political parties.

Contact project leader at SF, Marianne Victor Hansen:

Contact programme manager at the Liberal Party, Bent Nicolajsen:

Contact Project Coordinator at DIPD, Mathias Parsbæk Skibdal:

Malawian party leaders and young Malawians call for youth wings

Report by Kristian Lausten Madsen, Venstres Ungdom, VU (Danish Liberal Youth) and Anja Katrine Søndergaard, Socialistisk Folkepartis Ungdom, SFU (Socialist People’s Party’s Youth).

The democracy of Malawi is just about as old as us: it was born in 1994, and most of the 5 parties in parliament are even younger. When meeting the party members – old as well as young – you sense an eagerness to develop and build capacity, especially when it comes to involving the Malawian youth in party politics in a meaningful way.


Kristian Lausten Madsen, Danish Liberal Youth, with members of Malawi’s youth wings.

The Danish Socialist People’s Party & the Liberal Party only agree on few things, but the fact that youth wings are valuable and meaningful is one of them. Now the two parties have joined forces in a partnership with the Malawian Centre for Multiparty Democracy, together with their respective youth wings. The focus of the partnership is on youth and the involvement of young people in Malawian politics in a constructive way.

The Malawian political parties at a pre-appraisal seminar unanimously pointed out involvement of youth as the key issue in 2015, where an assessment of needs within the political parties was carried out. Now the project has started in Malawi with a visit by representatives of the Danish Liberal Youth and Socialist People’s Parties Youth.

We took part in bilateral discussions with each of the respective five parties on youth involvement and facilitated two workshops: one with the party leaders and one with the young members of the parties. Among other issues, we introduced young party members to “How to build” and “How to run a youth wing”.


Anja Katrine Søndergaard, Socialist People’s Party’s Youth, discussing involvement of youth in politics.

Furthermore, we went through the concept of having an organizational structure with local branches including having a general assembly and organizing an annual congress. Finally, we went through the issue of policy development. Here it struck us: Malawian party leaders and party members struggle to identify policies where their party could differ from the rest. Malawian parties are simply more geographically based and dependent on their respective history and powerful party leader. Ideologies and visions are hard to track, and it seems that many Malawians vote according to ethnicity, what their family do or where they come from. In fact, it was stated in the manifesto of the current government party (DPP), that “The DPP believes that we in Malawi will not resolve our economic and social development problems by using borrowed ideas and concepts. We must pull ourselves up by the boot strings” (From chapter 4: Creating New Wealth).

This is the reason we arranged a workshop with the party members in which they were given the task of reflecting on their ideology and political agenda. Additionally we conducted a simulation of a democratic policy development process, where every party member has the possibility of suggesting an amendment to a political position. It was very inspiring to experience, how the young Malawians were discussing and proposing amendments to the policy paper.

Annual Report 2015 – Postcards from the Field

Postcards are not long and detailed, but they highlight the excitement you feel when experiencing something unusual and memorable. This year we asked all our partners to tell one brief story for the Annual Report, to get a sense of what they think has made a difference.

Read more

Women deliver worldwide

Since the formation of DIPD, the promotion of women’s role in politics have been a cornerstone in the Institute’s work and a central element in many DIPD partnerships, including those in Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and Malawi. Leading up to 8 March 2016, DIPD’s partners from Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar have gathered to share experiences and discuss actions for promoting women’s role in politics.

International Women’s Day

On the International Women’s Day, 8 March 2016, DIPD’s Chairman, Henrik Bach Mortensen, explains:

“Women’s role in the development of sustainable democracies is a central part of the strategy for the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy’s international work, and through this work we see on a daily basis how women deliver as central actors in building new democracies in all parts of the world – for example in Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal and Malawi.”

“DIPD works specifically with supporting the development of democratic societies and the inclusion of women in political parties is a central element in this process. It is pivotal that the political parties represent women and men equally. And in order to secure women’s rights, it is vital that the equality is secured through an equal inclusion in the political parties.”

Women deliver all over the world

In 2016, a special focus will be placed on women’s role in the international, democratic development, when the global conference Women Deliver is held in Copenhagen in mid-May. Women’s role in developing and consolidating sustainable democracies around the world is also an important aspect of the strategy for DIPDs international work, through which we every day see evidence that women deliver.

Women deliver as important agent of change in developing democracies around the world.

Women deliver as leaders and champions of democracy in Myanmar. Through DIPD’s capacity development programme and multiparty dialogues, women gain confidence, competences and skills important for their political participation – now 13 percent of the elected members of Parliament are women.

Women deliver increasingly as candidates for the local elections in Bhutan, where DIPD have provided political education and training for 2.000 women resulting in a doubling of female candidates for the upcoming local election.

Women deliver as members of political parties, being instrumental in building constructive coalitions across political parties and by this creating and consolidating multiparty democracies in e.g. Malawi and Nepal.

Strong women gathered in Myanmar

Leading up to the International Women’s Day, strong women from the political parties in Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Denmark gathered in Nay Pi Taw in Myanmar to share their experiences on how to overcome challenges as women in politics and realize their potential. Further, they took stock of the democratic development in Myanmar after the first free parliamentary elections in 25 years.

The women from Nepal brought experience from nonpartisan efforts towards elimination of violence against women. Their efforts have resulted in the adoption of two important laws: the Anti Witchcraft Act 2072 and the Sexual Harassment in Workplace Act 2971. DIPD have succeeded in setting gender equality on the agenda within the political parties in Nepal through a long-term partnership with the Joint Mechanism for Political Party Strengthening (JOMPOPS). All political parties have committed themselves to promote gender equality and have signed an accord on eliminating violence against women in Nepal.

The women from Bhutan shared their experiences from strengthening women’s participation in local elections through targeted mentoring, capacity development and advocacy. DIPD has provided training for 2.000 women in partnership with Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW). As a result, at the upcoming elections an increase from 7 percent to 20 percent elected women is expected.

Gup Nam Pelden was elected at the last local elections and is now member of the BNEW Steering Committee:

”Had BNEW existed in 2010-11 when I was contesting, I am positive that more women would have participated and been elected too. However, in the 2nd LG Elections of 2016, due to the efforts of BNEW, I think many women will not only stand as candidates but general public may also vote for more women influenced and convinced by the advocacy work of BNEW and agencies like NCWC. Societal mind set change takes time but I feel optimistic given the passion with which BNEW has been working and advocating for greater acceptance of women leaders.”

The Burmese themselves brought positive experiences from their first free Parliamentary election in 25 year, where the share of elected women was tripled and women now hold 13 percent of the seats in the two-chamber Parliament.

In Myanmar, Danish experiences on inclusion of women in politics are also brought to the table. Fatma Øktem (Danish Liberal Party) participates and reflects on the significance:

“When I am witnessing the challenges that face women in particular and the democracy in general in Myanmar, it is clear that we in Denmark have the ability and obligation to make a difference e.g. by sharing ideas and experiences in the area of gender equality.”

“Celebrating the 8th of March in Myanmar reminds me, that we in Denmark also must improve the situation for women experiencing particular challenges – women with another than Danish ethnic background, women in asylum and refugee centers, young mothers without education etc.”

Listen to DIPDs Chairman, Henrik Bach Mortensen, in Danish Radio P1 Morgen  (in Danish)

Read the Danish version of the press release here

Read more about DIPDs programme in Myanmar

Read more about DIPDs programme in Bhutan

Read more about DIPDs programme in Nepal

Read more about DIPDs programme in Malawi