Our INFORM training programme for third level students addresses the barriers female students face in a practical manner, providing the skills needed to navigate student politics and the increased confidence to get more involved in student life, and further afield.
Increasing women’s involvement in student governance is critically important not only for proportionate representation at third level, but to facilitate women’s involvement in politics and other leadership arenas following graduation.
Our INFORM 2016 programme ran across several third level institutions, including Queen’s University Belfast, Dublin City University, University College Dublin and Cork Institute of Technology. The programme focused on Leadership, Public Speaking, Campaign Management and Communications Strategy.
In 2013/14 Women for Election partnered up with UCD and St Pats to pilot their first INFORM Programme which trained 140 young women to run for student leadership roles with impressive results:
- 55% increase in the number of women contesting SU sabbatical officer elections in UCD
- 60% increase in the number of women elected to SU sabbatical officer positions in UCD
- 52% of candidates contesting class rep elections were women, an increase from 46% in 2012 in UCD
- 66% increase in the number of women contesting SU sabbatical officer elections in St Pat’s
In 2014/15 the programme ran in six colleges (St. Pats College Drumcondra, UCC, DCU, DIT, TCD, CIT) and hosted a one day training session in partnership with USI. Approximately 200 participants took park in the college workshops, while a further 21 attended the USI event. Again the results were a success:
- 53% increase in the number of women contesting SU elections in the participating colleges
- TCD and WIT both elected women as SU presidents
INFORM aims to:
- Raise awareness about opportunities for young women to participate in decision-making at university
- Create an environment that encourages and supports young women to contest leadership positions
- Support young female leaders to realise their leadership ambitions at college
- Provide a platform for young women to develop and imagine their future leadership potential.
Delivered over the academic year, INFORM involves:
- An annual launch event in partnership with the Student Union and college clubs and societies
- A series of tailored workshops, focused on core-skills development
- Access to mentoring network for female candidates and female sabbatical officers
- Access to peer group of female candidates in other universities within the WFE network
- PR and social media campaigns at key points during the college year
Women for Election INFORM was my favorite programme to work with as SU President. The Women for Election team developed a programme which demystified the students’ union and explained clearly the steps in order to get elected. The evidence of the programme working was in the results, with UCDSU having for the first time ever a majority female team elected in its 39 year history. Not only did the programme help elect representatives who better reflect the student body, it equips participants with leadership skills that will serve them well in their place of work after college.
Micheal Gallagher, President, UCDSU 2013-2014, Welfare Officer 2012-13
The Women for Election programme has had a powerful and inspiring impact on our students over the past two years. We have seen an increase in interest and engagement with our Students’ Union here in St. Pat’s. Also, the role of the union and the way in which it operates has become clearer to students. The workshops offered students an opportunity to come along with friends, learn about student politics and ask questions to clear up some common misconceptions about Students’ Unions.
Paul Hyland, President, St Pat’s Student Union 2013-14
We’ve seen an increase in the number of students running for various SU positions, particularly amongst women. From talking to female students throughout our college, we saw that although they had an interest in student representation, they felt as though they weren’t as qualified for the role as others. Thankfully, these notions were changed through this programme when students saw what the work in the Students’ Union involves, and how students just like them with similar skills have been successful in the positions in the past. For the two sabbatical positions alone this year, we had five women running out of 7 candidates, with Cliodhna Daly being elected President, the first female since 2010.
Cillian O’Connor, Vice-President, St. Pat’s Student Union 2013-14
“I was a class rep in UCDSU this year but when it came to putting myself forward for Executive elections, I was hesitant. Before I participated in the Women for Election programme, I wasn’t really sure how the elections worked and the idea of running seemed quite daunting. The Women for Election workshop really instilled in me the belief that getting elected was an attainable goal. I found the tips I learned at the workshop very useful during election season but also in my college life in general. The overall atmosphere at the workshop was extremely positive. The Women for Election workshops really encouraged me to run for election and I would highly recommend the workshops to other students”
Laura Brohan, Business and Law Convenor, UCDSU