Who we are
The Centre Party International Foundation, CIS, is a Swedish Party-Affiliated Organisation established in 1995 by the Swedish Centre Party. It shares the same core values as the Centre Party, a social-liberal, green party with a strong emphasis on sustainability and decentralisation.
Vision and mission
Through its local partners in Belarus, Palestine, West Africa and the Balkans, CIS main mission is to empower women and youth as key agents of change to strengthen democracies and improve national conditions for peace and prosperity.
CIS interventions are conceptualised in line with a human rights based approach, seeking to ensure the respect of transparency, accountability, participation and non-discrimination at all levels of its project implementation. All the activities are implemented in close collaboration with political parties and organizations working to strengthen liberal values and local democracy, also outside large population centers.
To fulfil its mission, CIS activities focus on two interdependent areas:
- Support for sister parties and affiliated political movements and organizations, with the goal of ensuring well-functioning democratic political parties.
- Support for multi-party systems, with the goal of ensuring well-functioning, democratically based multi-party systems.
Where we work
PYPA - Program for Young Politicians in Africa
PYPA is a multi-party political academy that aims to build the capacity of young political leaders to strengthen their participation and influence in politics and society. The programme started in 2012. Today it is active in 16 countries in the four regions: East Africa, Southeast Africa, Southern Africa and West Africa.
Four Swedish party affiliated organisations - the Christian Democratic International Centre (KIC), the Olof Palme International Centre (OPC – Social Democrats), Green Forum (GF, Green party) and the Centre Party International Foundation implement the programme in close cooperation with local partners in the different regions.
CIS implements PYPA in the following countries: Burkina Faso, Benin, Niger, Mali, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Togo. CIS's implementing partner in PYPA is IGD (l'Institut Général Tiémoko Marc Garango pour la Gouvernance et le Développement) which is located in Burkina Faso.
Participants in the programme are between 18 and 35 years old, and half of them are women. The training covers everything from ideology, anti-corruption, gender and sustainable development to conflict management, communication, leadership and campaign work. In the period between the trainings, participants can apply the newly acquired knowledge in practice by planning and implementing mini-projects related to the rights of young people in their respective countries.
PYPA is a groundbreaking program that responds to real needs of young people in Africa, where young people in general, and young women in particular, have very limited opportunities to participate and influence social development. This is due to age, gender discrimination and distribution of power within the parties and in society. The main purpose of PYPA is therefore to develop and strengthen young people’s capacities from a rights perspective so that their participation and influence in politics and society increase.
Burkina Faso has a population of approximately 17 million with over half of the population under 35 years old. The country ranks 181 out of 187 countries on HDI index. However, there is a remarkable progress in development. Child mortality decreased from 81 to 65 per 2000 births between 2003 and 2010. The proportion of children attending school increased from 57% to 81% between 2005 and 2013.
The political situation has gone from a long-standing authoritarian regime to major upheavals and a democratic transition during the recent years. When President Compaoré, who took power in a 1987 military coup, presented a bill that would allow him to run for another term in election, massive protests started leading to his resignation in October 2014. After the transition period and failed coup in September 2015, the new President Kaboré was elected in November 2015.
What does CIS do?
In 2007, CIS initiated a partnership with AAEPC (Association des Amis des Élus du Plateau Central), a civil rights organization in rural Plateau Central region, which works to strengthen local democracy. The activities include capacity building of local councillors and population on gender equality, environment and corruption. Methods such as workshops, theatre forums and radio programs are used for these purposes.
One of the participants who has received a training from AAEPC says:
“Our mothers, who brought us up, found their fulfilment solely in taking care of the home. But thanks to training such as this one, we are now able to give another type of education to our daughters, different from that we’ve received. This training has made us understand that girls are as intelligent as boys and that because of this, schooling must be provided for them as well.”
In 2015-2016, CIS also supported a two-year project carried out by IGD (l'Institut Général Tiémoko Marc Garango pour la Gouvernance et le Développement), an independent apolitical non-profit organization whose goal is to promote good governance and democratic development in West Africa. The project aimed to strengthen the participation and influence of young people in politics and society. Participants in the project were members of political parties or civil society organizations in Burkina Faso. All the participants were under 35 and half of them were women.
The EU-funded project "Get involved! Women Empowerment in Morocco and Benin" ("Engageons-nous! Pour plus de femmes en politique au Maroc et au Bénin") launched in April 2018 in Rabat, aims to increase young women's participation and influence in political parties in Benin and Morocco. The project is a result of cooperation between several members of the European Network of Political Foundations (ENoP) where CIS is a member.
Activities in Benin will be carried out by IGD, CIS long-standing partner in Burkina Faso, and by ABDC, the partner of the German Hanns Seidel Foundation (linked to Christian-Democratic CSU). The activities in Morocco will mainly be carried out by the German foundations Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (linked to Christian-Democratic CDU) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (linked to Social-Democratic SPD). Konrad Adenauer Stiftung ensures the lead of the project as a whole.
The project will empower young women to play a more active role and exercise greater influence in political parties. The position of women in politics in Benin is weak today. Legally, they have the same rights and opportunities as men, but due to different cultural and social factors, their actual participation and influence are low. Only 7% of MPs are women and it is estimated that only 10-20% of the members of political parties are women. However, there are female ministers, group leaders and mayors.
Project activities in Benin will include capacity strengthening workshops for young female party members and politically interested young women, workshops on gender equality for the political parties’ leadership, advocacy work, support to gender mainstreaming of party programs and other party documents, mentorship programs between successful party members and young female party members, etc. Project activities aim to achieve three specific results:
1) The political leadership and other senior members of political parties understand the need for an active role of young female members in their parties and increased influence of young female members.
2) Young women and other female members in political parties have increased confidence, knowledge, skills and access to advance their career within the political parties.
3) A cross-party dialogue amongst young and experienced leaders and senior party members in political parties to exchange best practices, knowledge and foster discussion on the empowerment of young women is established, one in Morocco, one in Benin.
The constitute states of the former Yugoslavia have all been severely affected by the Balkan conflict and its consequences.
The whole region is characterized by high rates of unemployment. Corruption is widespread. Freedom of expression and press is guaranteed in the countries' constitutions, but is not always respected in practice. Women's participation and influence in politics and society are generally low.
One of the biggest challenges facing the countries of the Western Balkans is the EU integration. Slovenia and Croatia joined the EU in 2004 and 2013 respectively. Montenegro, Serbia, FYR Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina are official candidate countries, while Kosovo is a potential candidate country.
What does CIS do?
In 2016, CIS launched Regional Liberal Political Academy – a capacity building project for young liberals in the Western Balkans. The project is a fruit of close collaboration between CIS and Boris Divkovic Foundation in Bosnia and Herzegovina which was created in 2013 by the Bosnian party Nasa Stranka.
The purpose of the project is to strengthen the participation and influence of young people in politics and society. New participants are admitted to the academy annually from five countries of the Western Balkans region including Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, FYR Macedonia and Kosovo. Participants should be under 30 years old and members of liberal parties, half of them should be women. The programme consists of three or four parts which are held in different countries. The content is inspired by PYPA and includes workshops on ideology, gender equality, democracy, conflict management, communication, rhetoric, policy development, exchange of experiences, and EU integration. The forth part is held in Brussels with funding from European Liberal Forum (ELF).
In order to ensure the sustainability of the project, a continuous dialogue with the mother parties of the participants is maintained as regards youth rights and opportunities for participation and influence. In addition, the contact with and between participants is maintained through alumni activities which take place a year after the completion of training.
→ Young liberals from the Western Balkans tell what they think about the programme in the video RLPA 2nd generation
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina has a population of approximatively 4 million inhabitants. The effects of the conflict that took place in the Western Balkans in the 1990s are still very pronounced in the country. It is one of Europe's poorest countries and its GDP is still lower than before the war. Unemployment, especially among young people, is very high. Following the Dayton Agreement, reached at the end of 1995, the country is divided into two units, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srbska, which perpetuate the segregation of the country's ethnic groups.
The ethnic tensions hinder politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina from reaching agreement on the necessary reforms for the country's development. Corruption is widespread at all levels and there are worrying links between the political elite and criminal networks.
The reform agenda adopted by Bosnia and Herzegovina in July 2015 is one step in the right direction. It implies a formal commitment to implementing far-reaching economic, social and legal reforms. This is necessary in order to break down the downward spiral where citizens and especially the young people feel powerless and do not have confidence in the future. These reforms are also necessary to consider a prospect of membership in the EU.
What does CIS do?
Since 2010, CIS has collaborated with the political party Nasa Stranka (Our Party). It was formed in 2008 by activists, artists and academics with a common conviction that the country must stop having quotas based on ethnicity in the government administration. Nasa Stranka’s party representatives had different ethnic backgrounds, which attracted media attention and allowed the party to receive their first mandate in the 2008 local elections with representation in Sarajevo.
One of Nasa Stranka's most important goals is to reduce the domination of the nationalist parties in politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Prior to the last two elections, 2014 and 2016, the party has developed its party program and become much more ideologically clear in its policy. During the election held in October 2014, Nasa Stranka expanded its representation at regional level and for the first time received a mandate in the federal parliament. The local elections in October 2016 resulted in the party doubling their local representation.
The cooperation between CIS and Nasa Stranka focuses on strengthening the party's institutional structure, organizational capacity as well as political identity and capacity. In 2014, Nasa Stranka created a youth wing within its party which was inspired by the Centre Party Youth and Centre Party Students associations. The party also has an initiative aimed at increasing women’s political representation.
Since 2016, CIS is present in Palestine where its intervention seeks to enhance the political participation of women, mainly through technical capacity building and advocacy. CIS’s implementing partner is Palestinian Working Women’s Society for Development (PWWSD), a Palestinian civil rights organization that works to strengthen women’s economic, social and political rights in the West Bank and Gaza. The activities include training sessions, workshops, creation and follow-up of shadow councils and networking.
As a result of PWWSD and CIS joint action, many women admit that they can feel how their capacities and motivation for political participation have been strengthened. 76 women who have received the training in 2016 ran in the local elections in Palestine in May 2017. 50 of them were elected.
One of the project’s beneficiaries attests:
"My participation in the shadow council has strengthened my self-esteem and increased my commitment to work for a positive change. It has increased my knowledge of municipal work and the importance of women's participation. The project has also provided me with an opportunity to meet local deCision-makers. I’ve taken part in marches against Palestine's cleavage, occupation and power outages. I want to make a difference in my hometown Beit Hanoun which is affected by so many problems..."
Political conditions in Belarus are characterized by the authoritarian regime exercised by President Alexander Lukashenko. The country is often called the last dictatorship in Europe. After an initial stage of relative democracy that followed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has been a strong negative development towards one-party government. Both presidential and parliamentary elections have been held several times, but these have been characterized by widespread electoral fraud.
The situation regarding democracy, human rights and freedom of expression has gradually deteriorated over the years while a more radical deterioration occurred after the 2010 presidential elections when opposition and activists became victims of severe repressions.
What does CIS do?
CIS has been working for many years with a Belarussian civil rights organization which strives to promote citizens' rights in the country.
CIS supports its partner in their effort to bring about political change. Activities include participation in international networks as well as strengthening the organization's impact work, internet-based activism, and the development of political programs. Given the political context in Belarus, social media activism is an important instrument for political influence.