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The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.


The Departmental Network of Chocó Women of Colombia (Red Departmental de Mujeres Chocoanas) has been chosen by NDI to receive the 2010 Madeleine K. Albright Grant for its work to create greater roles for women in the civil and political life of the region.   

The network, an umbrella group representing 52 civil society organizations from 18 towns in the primarily Afro-Colombian department of Chocó, will receive $25,000 for a political training school and to create a network of women political leaders in Chocó, in the western part of Colombia.

In 1994, Choco’s women held just under 3 percent of political offices in the department’s assembly and municipal councils. With the work of the Departmental Network of Chocó Women and other organizations, that number rose to 12 percent in 2000. A shortage of financial resources in subsequent years has led to a small dip in those numbers, but with the Albright Grant the network is determined to expand and strengthen political participation by Choco´s women.

The training school – Chocó Women to Power (Mujeres Chocoanas al Poder) – and the network – the Departmental Network of Women Political Leaders of Chocó (Red Departamental de Lideresas Políticas del Chocó) – will further the organization’s mission: to help Chocoan women’s organizations build a gender-equitable society, contribute to sustainable social development and encourage women’s political participation.

The political training school will provide young women and men with the skills to compete in elections by emphasizing human rights and gender equality in their campaigns.  The political leaders’ network aims to increase women’s political participation while enhancing their ability to advocate for human rights with a focus on gender and ethnicity.

The network operates income-generating businesses, including a restaurant and a handicrafts store, which provide jobs for women and allow the network to be self-sustaining.

Chocoan woman

The Madeleine K. Albright Grant supports community-based organizations that create greater roles for women in political and civic life. It is part of NDI’s Win with Women Global Initiative, which promotes women’s political leadership worldwide. The Albright Grant is made possible by the generosity of the Melvin and Bren Simon Foundation, to which NDI is deeply grateful for its steadfast commitment to the Institute’s political participation programs for women.

Winners 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 Women’s League of Burma, the Indonesian Women’s Political Caucus (KPPI), the Mostar Women’s Citizen Initiative of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the 50/50 Group of Sierra Leone.

Pictured at the top: Members of the network gather during the first departmental encounter of women council members and local leaders.

Published December 9, 2009