The target audience of the Foundation in Latin America is decision-makers on all levels in society, but youths and women are especially notable. The Jarl Hjalmarsson Foundation is educating female decision-makers in order to strengthen their role in society. By boosting their capacity and ambition, the Foundation encourages them to take part more actively in political life, with the end-result that democracy is strengthened regionally.
The Foundation’s focus on female politicians was initially resisted by numerous of its cooperative parties which were dominated by men. However, the Foundation stood its ground, always keeping the superordinate goal of democracy in mind, and a series of educations for women was started.
Among the participants of the first conference, held in Peru in 2006, was Azalia Avíles – at the time already a member of the party council of the Partido Conservador de Nicaragua. But there were also women who had never occupied a political position. An important part of the education – which is aimed at both these groups – is to improve self-confidence so that women are more likely to engage in increased political activity and in so doing furthering their careers.
As the conference ended, the participants left with new knowledge and increased self-confidence. Since then, Azalia Avíles has risen to the position of party chairman and is also responsible for the education of women within the umbrella organisation Unión de Partidos Latinoamericanos (UPLA). Antoher particpant returned to the next conference with a story of how she had decided to run in a regional election for the Partido Conservador de Nicaragua. Her opponent was a man who was the incumbent chairman. Her experiences from the conference in Peru were what encouraged her to accept this challenge.
And the election outcome?
Well, she won and is now a regional party leader.