To support greater engagement for women's leadership inside the expanding political terrain in Kyrgyzstan, the NDI – National Democratic Institute will be hosting a luncheon to celebrate the Albright grant award for supporting democracy in action to bring women into the process. With celebrity studded hosts that include PBS News Hour moderator Judy Woodruff, former United States Secretary of State Madeline K. Albright, current Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues at the State Department Melanne Verveer and U.S. Congresswoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), the award ceremony will highlight the work of women in Kyrgyzstan, a region that is seldom covered by the western media.
To bring honor to the women from Kyrgyzstan who have worked endlessly to bring dignity and rights to women in the region, the NDI Albright grant will be honoring the accomplishments and drive of the Women's Political Discussion Club (WPDC) of Kyrgyzstan who will be receiving a $25,000 (USD) as a grant on March 22, 2012.
The Women's Political Discussion Club of Kyrgyzstan was one of the first organizations inside Central Asia in 2006 to bring women from a diverse array of political persuasions and levels to work together toward greater human rights for women. Specific issues that have gained some traction in the region in the past include an unsuccessful but powerful 2008 push that focused on bringing greater protections under the law, along with healthcare, for young women trapped in the sex-trade industries.
Another supportive initiative sponsored by the Discussion Club has encouraged women to become representative decision-makers for their region as members of the Kyrgyz parliament through the process of democratic elections. In 2010, the club was instrumental in supporting women candidates for parliament, as it has organized citizens around key issues, including a successful campaign to halt the legalization of polygamy in Kyrgyzstan.
The women will be using the award's $25,000 grant award to form a coalition to advocate on behalf of women's rights within the legislature and their respective parties.
“If Kyrgyzstan is to realize its full democratic potential, women must be equal and active partners in shaping society,” said Susan Markham, NDI's director for women's political participation.
Winners of the $25,000 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. The 2011 grant was awarded to ACT, a women's rights organization from Egypt, which is using the grant to help organizations and women leaders identify and advocate for women as Egypt works to develop a new constitution and transition to a democratic government.
Other past winners are the Departmental Network of Chocó Women of Colombia (Red Departmental de Mujeres Chocoanas), 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.
“Every country deserves to have the best possible leader and that means that women have to be given a chance to compete. If they're never allowed to compete in the electoral process then the countries are really robbing themselves of a great deal of talent,” NDI chairman Madeline Albright said.
“Women in Kyrgyzstan must be equal participants in building the country's new democratic institutions if it is to reach its full potential,” outlined Albright. “The Women's Discussion Club has made great strides in this area, giving a voice to women in Kyrgyzstan as the country advances its democratic transition.”