Earlier this week, I spoke on a panel at the  Wilson Center  on women in politics. We all agreed on the importance of women’s networks as an empowerment tool. Networks can provide women with several kinds of support. First, a network of similar women allows members to share strategies as they face similar situations. An example of this could be an association of women engineers. Second, a network of diverse women can give women the opportunity to meet women that are unlike them in some ways but could be helpful to them financially or politically precisely because of their differences. An example of this kind of network could be a parliamentary women’s caucus. A third kind of network for women could provide the members access to resources they might need but find hard to acquire. This network might include mentoring or a “pitchfest” event where younger entrepreneurs share their business ideas with potential funders. Another is the annual conference put on by EMILY’s List that brings together candidates with journalists and potential donors. Supporting a variety of networks is often a part of a gender equality development program.

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