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How did the project come about?
The project has started on the initiative of about 20 women involved in local mobilisations. They gathered together in the spring of 2020, inspired by the experiences of collective training developed by the new generations of american activists and democracy campaigners.
Our training path to practicing politics is co-developed, scalable and modular. It is based on two main goals: building capacity on all the essential tasks for running an effective political campaign, including the unknown; and elaborating a new stance for elected leaders. The training path has been co-built starting from the challenges faced by the participants, as well as on their expertises. Distinguished political leaders and practitioners have joined the programme all along the 5 week-ends of training and for monthly masterclasses. All participants involved in local mobilisations, share their thematic knowledge and advocacy expertise on key topics for social change during ad hoc peer-to-peer sessions.
Investies is not a political party. It is not an established association either. It’s a training journey to practicing politics built by, with and for women who wish to enter the political landscape by taking action and serving the society in both its plurality and individuality, on an individual as well as on collective basis. The participants don’t share a common political programme, they just decided to pull together their expertise and knowledge, and shared a co-build effort to elaborate a new stance for elected leaders.
Investies isn’t affiliated with any political party. This independence is a guarantee of freedom for each participant, to define her own route. This choice also guarantee a space for cooperation that operates beyond the traditional apparatus rationale, where free speech is ensured on topics and practices that need to be transformed (sexist and sexual violence, discrimination, lack of transparency on rules, segregation, work-life balance, etc..). Although we have operated on ‘stealth mode’ for several months, and waited to act before to take the floor and publicly launch the programme, we are aware that several political leaders are aware and appreciate the programme. We will assess their position and the appreciation of the work achieved once the training contents of the programme will be shared publicly, and once the negotiations for the nominations on the local constituencies will have started.
Investies don’t receive funds from any foundation nor granter. The choice has been made to keep the freedom of orienting the programme’s work in the direction we wish to and to not be held liable to no one. Fees engaged to rent venues for the in-person meetings, accommodation, train travel and the website have been crowdfunded by the participants on the basis of a free participation. All has been built thanks to the talents and expertise of each of the participants, provided on a voluntary basis to the programme.
We have been supporting ourselves! Together with the contributors that already had a first political experience, we have created the programme thinking of what they would have found beneficial and dream about at the time, when they’ve taken their first steps. We have also reached out to women experts, who have been answering to our call in their personal capacity and in solidarity with the project.
What has motivated us ?
If we look at the history of democracy, women joined the political landscape relatively late. They’ve been granted the right to vote only recently and they have been prevented from playing a full role in decision-making, public life and debate for a long time. Like many citizens (women and men) which are de facto excluded from power circles, women’s only choice is to endure the rules they haven’t chosen.
We have identified 5 types of obstacles to overcome in order for women to fully participate in the political and institutional fields: disruption of work-life balance, violence inherent to the political parties and politics, the scrutiny of legitimacy in the public debate, complexities of setting up a political campaign, challenges related to the political mandate and the leadership’s performance.
Who are the women involved in the programme?
The cohort has been set up in September 2020 by word of mouth, among women sharing a set of common values. We were willing to keep the cohort at a human scale. We have expanded the group as much as possible, in order to include a diverse set of backgrounds. Unfortunately, since the launch, it hasn’t been possible to include in the cohort the new impressive women who’ve heard about the programme. This is the reason why we’re documenting the experience: we would like to share our learnings, our experiences and the capacity building tools we have developed with all these women, and beyond, with all the future policymakers – women and men – that our country needs. The only prerequisite to access the cohort is a guarantee that a certain maturity has been reached in the public life: it is crucial to have experienced a public commitment for social justice, or environmental justice, or for an inclusive democracy if not against all discrimination.
What define us in the first place are the shared political horizons we have collectively defined: social justice, environmental justice, an inclusive democracy, the fight against all forms of discrimination. If we were in the United-States this political force would be embodied by the democrats. In France this comparison is not operational as the progressive political spectrum is extremely scattered, divided and undergoing a deep mutation. It is therefore our intention to take an active role in the evolution of the French and European political landscape. The majority of the participants haven’t subscribed to any political party and are grassroots organisers, committed to several causes. Many don’t feel represented by any of the existing political parties. Others are registered members of existing parties (EELV, PS, Place Publique, Génération.s, LRDG – les Radicaux de Gauche, LFI, etc.). The women experts we have reached out to have been or currently are members of progressive parties or progressive citizen organisations.
There is no requirement for program participants to try to get elected to a political function. They are free to transform their learning as they see fit, in the plurality of all possible actions. Each participant is the master of her own trajectory, so there are only special cases in this promotion. Some know they will not run on a single-member ballot, others have joined political campaign teams. Some choose to become campaign managers of candidates from the course. Others already know that they will make their knowledge available to citizen groups.
Halfway through the training, a dozen participants have declared that they want to run for the 2022 legislative elections. Out of 577 constituencies, this is a wisp of straw. We wish that all the women who will have expressed the choice to run will be elected, that is to say 100% of success of the negotiations for their nomination. For the women who wish to run under a political label, it is obviously not a nomination from a single party that they must obtain to enter the National Assembly, but the whole support of the progressive forces. This will be the meaning of the round of negotiations that will be carried out in due course.
The journey as such ends in June 2021 for the participants of the promotion. Once launched, the declared candidates will be able, if they decide, to pool resources among themselves and support each other in this new phase of their commitment to their fellow citizens. Each candidate is free to make her own choices.
We are putting together a learning booklet of several hundred pages compiling all the lessons learned during the training. In a spirit of creating a common ground and sharing knowledge freely, this booklet will be available for free on the Investies website.
Can the content be reused to build your own training courses? We have designed and consolidated this course to be transferable to others and reusable. The content will be available under a creative commons license: Attribution – Sharing Under the Same Conditions 3.0 France (CC BY-SA 3.0 FR). The Investies program was born from the observation that access to the French political ecosystem is too opaque, difficult to understand, governed by unspoken rules, and does not allow citizens to get acquainted with the codes and get involved. In order to change these rules and define a new desirable framework, we must be numerous to get into the institutions.
We do not plan to open a training cycle following this promotion, but Investies is conceived as a replicable experience. Each woman who wishes to do so, if she feels aligned with the shared political horizons of Investies, can gather a circle of women and ask the collective to help her own circle to launch itself. We also warmly recommend other programs that are currently constituting their promotions, such as Tous élus which prepares future candidates for 2022 – it is in the recruitment phase until March 28, or the Collège citoyen de France project which has just been launched. Each program has its own DNA, but we always cooperate with pleasure.