Ahead of this week's second session of our European Women's Academy (EWA), alumna and now State Secretary of Research and Higher Education of Norway Rebekka Borsch talks about how EWA has helped her make her way through politics and accede to power. To learn more about what will be happen during the 2nd session of EWA, click here.
How the European Women’s Academy helped me accede to power
When I became part of the very first class of the European Women’s Academy (EWA) of political leadership and campaigning in 2016, I had been in politics for nine years already. I had participated in two local and one national election campaigns, had been elected as a local representative in my home community, and I was member of the national board of Venstre, the liberal party of Norway. Yet, EWA definitely changed my life as a female politician. It turned out to be the very best training in politics and targeted campaigning ever!
Firstly, the European Women’s Academy provided me with a complete set of tools and techniques to act more strategic and shape my messages, to brand myself in the media, to build networks and a core team for my campaign, and to raise self-awareness and self-confidence in regard to gender aspects in politics. I learned how to handle obstacles and challenges that women in politics still face – and it proved to be upmost important knowledge in the election campaign in 2017.
Secondly, EWA taught me about the necessity and beauty of fundraising. I never thought I would embrace the idea of personally collecting money for my campaign – but that was before I met Annika, Ian and the rest of the fantastic EWA team. Thanks to this programme, not only my campaign team, but the entire Venstre party started raising money in a totally new way in 2017. And it worked. "Team Rebekka" ended up raising even more money than planned, and that gave me more power, a bigger network, more freedom to create my campaign and more visibility than in all earlier campaigns.
Last, but not least, EWA inspired and empowered me profoundly. I got to know a bunch of wonderful and smart liberal women from all over Europe who have developed a sisterhood of politicians that is still alive and thriving. The three training sessions of the European Women’s Academy were an important ingredience in my 15-months election campaign, which again was a significant component in Venstre succeeding in the national elections in 2017. I did not get elected to Parliament, but I won many votes for my party in a difficult election. Besides, my campaign – and me as a person and candidate – stood out and inspired other candidates and campaigns within the party. As a result, when Venstre entered the government some months later, I was appointed Deputy Minister of Research and Higher Education.
EWA has helped me making my way through politics and to acceding to power. It inspired me to work harder and do it in the best way I can. I am truly thankful to the ALDE Party and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for encouraging and empowering me and many more liberal women across Europe. Several candidates from the 2016 class got elected. Together, we are a solid proof of EWA’s crucial role in providing Europe with strong female liberal leaders in the years to come. If we really want to achieve gender equality, we need to inspire and connect dedicated women to support their strength and talents. That’s exactly what the European Women’s Academy is all about.
State Secretary of Research and Higher Education