I found what I am looking for in the fourth day of workshop
January 15, 2014
Wasfi H. AL-Sharaa
With a smile mixed with seriousness which lasted until the break, Anne Graumans shifted us from introductions to the main point of the topic, where I found what I am looking for. Because when I came from the far south, I was looking forward to get an experience that will be added to my knowledge for the race to reach the Council of Representatives, especially that my goal is the political empowerment of women in Iraq.
We discussed several topics on this day, which focused on candidate’s communication skills with the voter, either directly or through social networking sites and media. We also concentrated on how the candidate deals with journalists, press conference management and the press release.
As a trainee, my fears were twofold. My first fear was that the trainer would come with materials that she read without any practical experience in it. My second fear was that she would present it in a traditional way. But all these fears disappeared, when we found out that most of the examples are personal experiences, and the practical work and exercises dominated mostly the fourth day, like in the rest of the workshop days.
We know that each country has its own circumstances and that the experience behind the success of a candidate or a party in a particular country may be the reason behind the failure of one of the candidates in another country, if it is applied without studying the social and cultural context of its country. However, the lessons learned from the Western experience may be the solution to the problem that face our homeland. Iraq and the Netherlands have some common problems that drew my attention, for example the lack of trust between the voters and the candidates. In Iraq, this problem is the result of politicians’ isolation behind the concrete walls under the pretext of the security situation, as they have become strangers to our streets and they do not feel the impact of car bombs like the other citizens do. I liked the picture of the former leader of the Dutch Labor Party, Wouter Bos, as he was keen to be surrounded by his constituents to begin to build bridges of trust between the candidate and the voter.
From now on, I will make sure to advise all female candidates, whom I will train, in addition to the communication skills that I have learned, to be close to their constituents. Not for a picture, but to start a new phase in Iraq’s political history, in which honesty and trust is the dominant trait.