Transforming Communities: Empowering Local Women Representatives
Tov, Mongolia– After graduating from university in Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar, D. Bertsetseg returned to her hometown of Zuunmod soum [subdivision of aimag, or province] in Tov aimag where she worked in education for 30 years. “I came back to my soum to educate the future of Zuunmod–its school students,” Bertsetseg explains. Zuunmod soum is situated 43 km from Ulaanbaatar and comprised of more than 4,600 households, with a total population of 16,000 inhabitants.
- UNDP Mongolia’s project “Capacity Strengthening of Local Self-Governing Bodies” (CSLSB) organized the National Training Programme in 2013-2014.
- The first training of its kind in Mongolia.
- Funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
- 7,290 representatives attended the Training Programme in 2013-2014.
- 1518 out of 2204 women representatives attended the "Women Leadership in Local Governance" training or Women's Leadership Training (as of October 2015).
- Regional conferences held in Khangai, Eastern, Central and Western were held to discuss the Law on Administrative and Territorial Units and their Governance (LATUG). Out of the 325 representatives and khural staff, 82 were women.
- UNDP Mongolia organized two study tours to Switzerland for Parliament Members and local government representatives.
Bertsetseg was drawn into the politics like many other Mongolians in the times of democratic transition of the 1990s. After working as an election campaign manager, supporting women running for office, and being twice nominated herself, she was eventually elected into the soum’s Citizen Representative Hural in 2012.
Following her appointment, Bertsetseg took part in UNDP Mongolia’s National Training Programme for all khural representatives. Based on the representatives’ self-assessment, the tailored training included core topics such as citizen participation in decision-making, public financial management, ethics, green development, human rights, and gender.
“I have very good impressions of the Training Programme, as we learned a lot of useful things from the Training directly, and also learned from other experiences indirectly by engaging and sharing with neighboring soums,” Bertsetseg describes its impact. “What stood out to all of us were discussions on Local Development Fund and community development.”
Bertsetseg also participated in the country’s first nationwide Women’s Leadership Training organized by UNDP Mongolia in 2014 and 2015: “The Training affected us women in a very positive way since there are 14 women representatives in Zuunmod soum hural.” The Training will reach all women representatives in Mongolia. Its curriculum includes topics such as leadership, social structure frameworks, power dynamics, and human rights.
“I hope that the Trainings' impact will continue to empower women representatives including their legal knowledge on the decision-making process. Women are the backbone of the family and the bedrock of a community. With more women in power, I believe we would have more harmony, more engagement, less suffering, and less conflict.”
Having been involved in UNDP Mongolia’s project and its trainings, Bertsetseg established a women representatives’ ‘Local Leadership Club’ in Zuunmod soum hural. “I could see big power that the women representatives involved in the trainings had. I felt we, women leaders, can understand each other and find a common language and solutions. Through the Club, the women leaders will learn and will get involved in community projects and activities. Then they can lead other local women. “
The Club initiated a number of activities in the Zuunmod community. A dancing club for the elderly was started. To engage young people as well, the Club created ‘Let’s volunteer Zuunmod’ program. The volunteer program will mobilize young volunteers and help the local organizations in forming a volunteer network, thus increasing citizens’ participation and improving youth’s life skills.
Bertsetseg believes that being a part of the soum’s khural means “being a responsible leader, ensuring better future for the community, while also voicing people’s needs when shaping local policies.”