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The Power of Belief in Justice

Sitting in the Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s building in Berlin, Germany, at the Women’s Political Leadership Academy, you cannot help but think of the grounds it stands on. 

The building, along with many others, is built on the “death zone,” which divided Berlin into East and West for almost 45 years between 1945 and 1989.  It is important not only because of history, but also because these relatively new buildings symbolize that huge divides can be overcome and justice can take over.

It is essential to have the belief in justice, especially in the context of the Academy which has brought women leaders from Africa to share best practices and learn from those of German counterparts, whose country has been led by a woman Chancellor for over a decade.  These women politicians have seen it all – conflict, violence, corruption, disrespect and ignorance.  Often things that rightly belonged to them were stolen without the opportunity for self-defense.

Yet these women stand strong and talk about their visions of achieving equal opportunities for women through strengthening their voices within their political parties.  They truly believe that it is they who are going to change the course of their parties and will achieve women’s leadership within them.  They are determined to ensure their party by-laws are gender sensitive, their women’s wings are legalized within the structures of their political parties and their candidate lists include women in the winning positions.  One of them states, “I will be running for President of Congo.”  Another sets a goal of becoming Minister of Finance of Angola in five years.  Yet another one talks about her strategy of “becoming Prime Minister.”  My colleagues at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Women’s Union of CDU, who co-hosted the Academy, find themselves unequivocally believing them.

Observing the interaction among African women politicians, you would assume that they have known each other for many years, because they speak in one voice and about similar problems.  Yet, they are meeting for the first time.  The power of same experiences and belief in justice is what unites them into A13 with the goal to solve inequality.  A13 stands for “Africa 13” symbolizing the thirteen women leaders who are determined to bring change to the women in their countries.  Along with Konrad Adenauer Foundation and Women’s Union of CDU, I feel humbled to be a part of this empowering process and excited that IRI is joining A13 to assist the strengthening of democratic change across Africa. 

Nobody who we meet with, including senior CDU members, asks us “why?”  For Americans and Germans it is obvious that transatlantic alliance is an important symbol of peace and security in today’s world, which is unimaginable without women’s empowerment.  

Posted by

Erika Veberyte

Senior Advisor to the President for International and Women’s Organizations