“Women leaders are not just found in the political sphere,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) at the National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) 2016 Madeleine K. Albright luncheon earlier this week. “Women are leading anywhere women are, which is everywhere.”
The annual luncheon, hosted by NDI Chairman and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, honors the efforts of grassroots women’s organizations to promote the participation and leadership of women in politics. Over three hundred members of the NDI family gathered at the Four Seasons in Washington, DC, to celebrate the power of women’s leadership. The power that women have when they work together, through their differences, was the overwhelming theme of the day.
Senator Klobuchar, who is part of a bipartisan group of Senators who are proving that civility and effectiveness in politics is not a thing of the past, headlined the event.
In her lively and uplifting remarks, the Senator recounted tales of female Senators taking charge and breaking through gridlock to get the job done. She described women around the world that she’s met who are having a measurable impact on their communities, their families, and on each other. “Because of courageous women,” she said, “anything is possible.”
At the luncheon, NDI awarded its 2016 Madeleine K. Albright Grant to Reactor - Research in Action, a Macedonian research and advocacy organization, which has played a critical role in supporting women’s political participation in the country.
NDI’s Chairman, former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, presented this year’s award to Ms. Tanja Maleska, chairwoman of the executive board and one of the founding members of Reactor.
Reactor will use the $25,000 grant to develop and implement a web-based tool for women politicians in Macedonia. Through the tool, women politicians will be able to access community support by connecting across party lines and tap into expertise and resources from the Gender Equality Platform. In addition, Reactor will develop a rapid response mechanism to expose discriminatory practices, attacks, and biased practices.
In accepting the award, Ms. Maleska said that Reactor believes that “when women look beyond their differences, their collective influence can break the barriers that have been holding them back, and infuse new life into voices kept quiet for too long. We also believe that if what we seek is profound and sustainable change, it is time to let women lead the way.”
Finally, Sehrish Naseem, the 2016 Andi Parhamovich Fellow from Pakistan, gave powerful remarks:
“My personal experience, in a society where many people refuse to accept a girl’s ability to do anything other than domestic work, has made me conclude one thing: that a woman who cannot plan and decide her life, her family and her career, is not free. If women are unable to define themselves on their own terms, intellect and accomplishments, then they will never dream of being able to build strong communities and a strong country. Defining oneself, however, is not an easy task. It requires individual and societal change on many fronts. Women, working together, can move this change forward.”
During her fellowship at NDI, Ms. Naseem is developing a project to educate and encourage political parties in Pakistan to adopt principles of gender equality into party platforms, policies and manifestos.
The Madeleine K. Albright Grant supports community-based organizations that create greater roles for women in political and civic life. Part of NDI’s Win with Women Global Initiative, which promotes women’s political leadership worldwide, the Albright Grant is made possible through the generosity of the Melvin and Bren Simon Foundation. NDI is deeply grateful to the foundation for its steadfast commitment to the Institute’s political participation programs for women.
Recipients of the Albright Grant, which was established in 2005, are selected from a competitive pool of applicants seeking to promote women’s participation in civic or political life. Past recipients of the Albright Grant include the Worker Women Social Organization (WWSO) of Afghanistan, Aswat Nisaa (Women’s Voices) of Tunisia, the Network of Support for Women Municipal Leaders (REAMM) of Mexico, the Women’s Discussion Club of Kyrgyzstan and the Departmental Network of Chocó Women of Colombia.