Kyrgyzstan Political Processes Program: IRI

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The program continues outreach activities to promote political participation of women.
The program continues outreach activities to promote political participation of women.
IRI / USAID

Under the program, IRI works to improve the Kyrgyz Republic’s democratic path by assisting in development of a strong multi-party political system, cultivating leaders by equipping youth and women with the skills to engage in the political process and improving local government transparency and responsiveness.

Duration:  2016 – 2021

Budget:  $10 million (for the consortium)

Implementing Partner:  International Republic Institute (IRI)

Key Partners: Political Parties, Central Election Commission, Zhenskaya Demokratichyskaya Set, Civil Society

Activity Locations: Nationwide

Major Focus Areas

This program is implemented by all three members of the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS): International Republic Institute (IRI), International Foundation for Elections Support (IFES) and National Democratic Institute (NDI).

IRI focuses on strengthening capacity of political actors in order to address key areas of citizen concern by encouraging the development of issue-based platforms and campaigns, improving their organizational and management skills.

Annually, IRI conducts a national poll that assesses public opinion on political, economic, social, international and electoral affairs. During election cycles, IRI focuses on strengthening electoral processes by working closely with both civil society and political actors in order to provide candidate and campaign workshops as well as extensive, nationwide election observer training for political party members, candidate volunteers and civil activists.

IRI also works with politically active youth and women in order to empower them to be more active in decision-making processes by focusing on issue-based advocacy.

Results and Achievements

Under this project, IRI continues to provide consultations to political parties, including their leadership, in order to equip them with the tools to actively compete in elections. The consultations cover the issues of strategic communications, relevant message development, meaningful communication with constituents, campaign strategy development and overall organizational branding. Within this part of programming, IRI also consults parliamentary and presidential candidates to provide them with skills to build their campaign strategies and be competitive in national-level elections. In 2020 Parliamentary elections, more than 70 IRI’s beneficiaries utilized the skills gained from campaigning consultations and trainings to compete for the seats in Kyrgyz Parliament.

IRI is regularly engaging politically active youth in order to provide them a forum to discuss political and social issues impacting youth, specifically in elections. In 2017-2018, IRI televised two seasons of National Youth Political Debate Tournament aimed to build political culture around the notion of youth political participation, sharpening the definition of party ideologies, promoting transparent public discussion of political issues, building public speaking and communication skills of emerging political leaders, and encouraging open and constructive dialogue between political parties. IRI will continue to collaborate with young leaders to encourage youth political, civic and social participation throughout Kyrgyzstan. IRI also established contacts with regional groups of youth activists and groups in need of support in under-served areas to provide assistance to advocacy campaigns on region- or city-specific issues. The ongoing advocacy consultations for regional youth resulted in advocacy campaigns carried out in regions of Kyrgyzstan on the issues of concern for local youth.

In order to provide a platform for citizens to discuss various political, economic and social issues, IRI facilitates a televised hybrid debate show focused on issues of concern to population, in which local experts, civic activists and other stakeholders voice and debate the most pressing issues of the day. Within the project implementation period, IRI supported filming and broadcasting three seasons of its “Emnege?” debate TV show discussing political, economic and social issues with prominent experts and public figures.

IRI continues promoting political participation of women through its local partner Zhenskaya Demokraticheskaya Set’ (ZDS), a nationwide women’s political network that aims to support women activists and emphasize the role of women in decision-making processes. Now the network unites more than 5,000 active women from the Parliament and local councils to civil society. One of the biggest successes of the network was the set of activities aimed to support the law “On local elections and 30% gender quota for women” to ensure a broader representation of women in local municipalities.

A number of information campaigns conducted, as well as more than 10,000 signatures collected since 2014 in support of the law, resulted in its adoption in August 2019. Now that the law is enacted, more Kyrgyz women have an opportunity to represent their local communities in decision-making bodies. Apart from supporting women political participation, ZDS is at the forefront of supporting women’s health and fighting against domestic violence through conducting information and advocacy campaigns to voice the issues and deliver them to decision-making level. Through these campaigns ZDS manage to provide benefits for diseased women and ensure legal support to women who had suffered from domestic violence. In coming years, IRI will continue to provide support for the network’s voter and civic education activities, training candidates to local and national councils, focus group discussions and advocacy campaign events. The Institute will work on assisting politically active women with building their advocacy capacity in order to increase their national and local visibility.

IRI implements the project on monitoring of local municipalities the Institute cooperated with in previous years with a focus on budgeting and the development of legislative agendas to organize their work. This cooperation resulted in legislative agendas adopted by 70% of partnering local councils after comprehensive trainings provided by IRI. Through its local partner ZDS, IRI will monitor the activity of these councils and assess the behavioral changes resulting from the workshops.

IRI works with poll-watchers from political parties to provide them with the knowledge of monitoring electoral processes in advance of the local and national elections. Trainings for political party poll-watchers include a video guide with the focus on identifying and appropriately reporting possible violations of voters’ rights or polling place protocols. Within the past years, IRI trained more than 5,000 domestic election observers who later observed Presidential Elections in 2017 and 2021 all over the country.

IRI continues to provide credible and consistent national polling data to relevant stakeholders in the Kyrgyz Republic. Annual public opinion polls provide ground for analysis of the current political, economic and social situation and trends in the country, and are highly valued by Kyrgyz political actors, including presidential administration and prime minister’s office, as well as local media who regularly publish the results and analysis of IRI-conducted polls on their platforms. Presentation of the poll results is followed by Research Training Academy to equip representatives of political parties, as well as women and youth organizations with the knowledge of data collection tools, analysis and interpretation of research results, and utilization of the research results in building effective campaigns. Alumni of the Research Training Academy later utilize the knowledge gained by conducting focus group discussions all over the country to study the issues of their interest and incorporate the results and analysis of focus group discussions in their organizational work. Moreover, with the continuous growth in new media usage, IRI is supporting a social media page that increases the Institute’s access to citizens through highlighting the activities and results of program implementation.

Last updated: July 12, 2021

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