Greece has many talented women, who however have to give a battle against stereotypes before they actually “fight” an electoral campaign. It comes as no surprise that Greek women are underrepresented in politics, and what’s worse is that this is commonly accepted. The liberals favour a strategic approach to increase female participation and success in the elections, closing the gender gap between men and women. This was the idea behind the workshop “Women in Politics – How to Run a Successful Female Campaign” which took place from 28 to 30 September, in the vicinity of Athens.
Twenty liberal candidates who will participate in the local elections in May 2019 convened to jointly focus on how to design their respective political campaigns. Being from different places in Greece – from Thessaloniki to Crete and from Corfu to Athens – they all brought in their very own experiences in local politics, exchanging opinions and knowledge together with the facilitators and guests of the workshop.
The trainers were experienced in political campaigning. Katerina Papanikolaou, a human rights activist and business consultant, emphasized how to create and boost the female candidate’s “brand” based mainly on her values and mission in politics. Together with the participants she analyzed the effect of stereotypes for women engaged in politics, and ways to diminish the role of stereotypes in the public sphere.
Thanasis Papamichail, a senior professional in political communication, presented the steps of a successful political campaign. He presented various strategies for female candidates depending on their target groups. He also shared some of his experiences to encourage the participants that gender should not be an issue and that their success will be more a matter of organization, discipline and optimism. He also ran a “SWOT analysis” (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) in order to assist the candidates to realize their own potential. Finally, he listed the best communication tools that can be used with assertiveness or aggressiveness when needed
Alexandros Skouras, president of the liberal Greek think tank KEFIM-Markos Dragoumis, introduced a specific tool – the “Leesburg Grid” – as an effective way to manage the message that is delivered to the voters. Maria Gianniou on behalf of the NGO “Women-Act”, a women’s empowerment think tank, gave the participants an exercise to increase their self-esteem. Lastly, Athanasios Grammenos presented ways to efficiently use social media. He also shared a thorough analysis of each platform and the way messages can get across digitally.
Alongside the workshop, two networking dinners were organized. On Friday night, Apostolos Siokas, Vice Mayor of the Athenian suburb of Moschato-Tavros, discussed the cooperation between men and women in public affairs. On Saturday night Sophia Zacharaki, deputy spokesperson for the “Nea Dimokratia” (New Democracy) party, shared her personal experiences on gender issues in politics and motivated the participants to dynamically pursue their dream.
Dr. Athanasios Grammenos, FNF Greece