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Women’s Political Leadership is Essential for Democracy

As part of the Global Democracy Coalition Forum ahead of the Summit for Democracy, Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) and Demo Finland are organizing a webinar to bring attention to the critical role of women´s political leadership in securing and strengthening democracy.

WFD´s recent research with the Global Institute for Women´s Leadership at King´s College in London showed that where women take part and thrive in politics, the whole of society benefits.

Subsequent WFD research found that women´s candidate selections and election success is supported by targeted training that enables women to build up campaigning skills, networks that provide guidance and mentorship based on previous campaigning experience, and effective relationships with local parties. We also found that to support women leaders to act on their motivations and prepare for political life, they need to provide opportunities for skill development and resources as well as tackle the barriers that hinder women´s ability to use these.

These are insights that WFD and Demo Finland use in their programmes worldwide that support and promote women´s political leadership.  In this webinar, we will consider why women´s political leadership is so essential for democracy, women´s experiences of political leadership, and what the speakers would like to see in the outcomes from the Summit for Democracy.


Moderator: Sophia Fernandes (@sophy_eff), Senior Adviser, Political Inclusion at Westminster Foundation for Democracy.


Maria Miller MP (@MariaMillerUK), Conservative Member of the UK Parliament.

Katri Viinikka (@ViinikkaK), Ambassador for Equality Issues from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland.

Siviwe Gwarube MP (@Siviwe_G), Shadow Minister for Health South Africa.

Maria Miller MP
Maria Miller MP is a Conservative Member of the UK Parliament. She served as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Women and Equalities, from September 2012 to April 2014. Maria is Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women in Parliament. She Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Domestic Violence; Co-Chair of APPG UN Women; and Chair of the APPG on Women in Parliament. Maria Miller serves on the board of governors of Westminster Foundation for Democracy.
Katri Viinikka
Ambassador Katri Viinikka holds the position of Ambassador for Gender Equality at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland since September 1, 2018. She has had a long career in Finnish foreign policy serving earlier as the Ambassador of Finland to the Kingdom of the Netherlands and as Director for United Nations and General Global Affairs at the Political Department of the Finnish MFA. Ambassador Viinikka has been active in promoting mediation, co-chairing the Group of Friends of Mediation at the UN at Senior Officials level from 2011 to 2015.
Siviwe Gwarube
Siviwe Gwarube has been a Member of Parliament in South Africa for the Democratic Alliance since May 2019. She is currently the Shadow Health Minster, and her special interest on the health portfolio is access to reproductive health rights for rural women and the National Health Insurance Bill (NHI). Before joining public service, Siviwe worked as the Head of Communications for the Democratic Alliance at just 28 years of age, the Head of Ministry in the provincial department of Health and occupied various spokesperson roles over the years.
Sophia Fernandes
Sophia Fernandes is the Senior Adviser on Political Inclusion at WFD. Prior to that, she was interim Regional Director for Asia. Between 2018-2020 Sophia was responsible for leading WFD’s Commonwealth wide programme, the Commonwealth Partnership for Democracy, where she led innovative inclusion programmes across the Commonwealth and in 15 countries across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia to advance political inclusion of women, youth, LGBT+ citizens and persons with disabilities.