Yalda Network has developed a variety of educational modules for women interested in running for political office, as well as those who are interested in campaign management. This program is divided into the in the following four clusters:
- Women’s Leadership
- Electoral Campaign Planning
- Public Policy
- Adult Learning
Under these clusters Yalda Network offers a range of classes including: Research, Strategy, and Targeting, Public Narrative and Organizing, Building Self-confidence, Life-Work Balance, Campaign Strategies, Communication, Public Relations and Advertising, Mobilizing Resources, Public Policy, Facilitation and Empowerment, Campaign Message, Women’s Leadership, as well as Adult Learning. Each module is offered as a package including two webinars that get recorded and made available online, a course reader, audio-visual files, a pretest and a posttest, slideshows and animation. Each package also includes a guide that helps the trainer best use the different materials.
The purpose of this cluster is to teach necessary skills for leadership and public service to women who are interested in active participation in civic organizations, political parties, and regional or national elections.
The eight modules offered under the Women’s Leadership cluster — Public Narrative, Styles of Leadership, Work-Life Balance, Personal Leadership, etc — familiarizes the trainer with different methods of leadership, how to set their goals based on the society they live in, how to develop their personal message as well as build their public profile. It also provides the trainer with necessary skills to build self-confidence, team building, stress management and resource management skills.
Leadership and Public Narrative
Public narrative as a leadership practice centered around taking on the responsibility for enabling others to achieve their goals in the face of uncertainty. The narrative is how we learn to make choices and construct our identities — as individuals, as communities, as nations. In this course participants learn to develop a story of self, of us and now. Each of us has a story that can move others to action. As trainers learn this skill, they will be learning to tell a compelling story about themselves, their constituency, and the need for urgent and hopeful action. In addition, women will gain practice in listening and coaching others to tell a good story. This course is designed based on “Public Narrative Participant Guide” taught by Dr. Marshall Ganz of Harvard University.
Personal Leadership and Building Self Confidence
This module is an introduction to building self confidence and self image as fundamental skills for personal leadership. The goal of this module is for the trainer to have a deeper understanding of her personality, learn more about herself and have a clearer idea of her values and principles in order to be engaged in different civic, social and political activities. Personal leadership, and finding ways to solve personal problems are essential steps towards any individual’s civic engagement. This module introduces common personal and professional obstacles experienced and ways to overcome them, while the exercises would help bring one’s internal and personal improvements to their civic engagement activities.
Teamwork, Team Building, Network Building
This module introduces strategies for winning the election. Any election requires voters to make decisions based on the information that candidates provide them. Most candidates, if not all, use conventional methods to introduce themselves, their skills and plans to potential supporters. However, detrimental to a candidate’s success is the way her campaign plans and organizes her efforts. This module teaches how to enter the election and gain the best outcome with limited recourses.
Building a Public Profile
It is essential that a qualified person running for office is able to present her ideas to the public in an efficient and effective way. This module teaches the trainer how to introduce herself and demonstrate what it takes to have a successful public profile in order to win elections. The course also familiarizes the trainer with possible opportunities and threats, as well as networking and network building strategies. Through this module the trainer learns how to build dynamic relationships and how to best benefit from those relationships in reaching her professional goals.
Candidates these days use a variety of media — ranging from Twitter with its 140 character limit to Facebook and YouTube with more audio and visual capabilities — to reach their audiences and deliver their message. This module is an introduction to personal message, its content as well as the different ways of delivering it to the public and potential supporters in an election. Trainers also learn how to write an effective personal message while running for office.
Women have been historically subjected to more responsibility and work at home in families across the world. Traditionally mothering and other familial responsibilities are often posited in contradiction to a woman’s professional life and social engagement. There is an ancient belief that a woman’s most important responsibility is to be a great wife and mother. In a developing country like Iran, in recent years, we have faced numerous challenges in legislation regarding women’s work and the new responsibilities the new generation of women takes on outside the house. This module teaches the trainer how to reach her personal and professional goals, and to become more successful in both personal and professional lives. Skills such as time management, stress management and different methods of reaching a work and life balance are taught to reduce the amount of guilt that is commonly felt among professional women.
Styles of Leadership
Are you a leader or a manager? A manager is one who makes sure team members have the necessary tools to succeed; a leader is one that, managing her own talents as well as others’ is capable of thinking critically and outside the box to achieve the goals of her team. The best leader is one who recruits more leaders from her team members. This module gives an overview of the different methods of team leadership, and how to use the most effective tools of communication to succeed with a team. It continues to discuss political leadership and the means of increasing women’s political involvement, and finally the role of gender in choosing a style of leadership.
Leadership, Organizing and Action
This module is an opportunity to learn how to organize communities to mobilize their resources and create the power they need to make change. The course is designed and localized based on a course with the same title, taught by Dr. Marshall Ganz of Harvard University. Throughout the course, trainers learn that effective organizing requires learning to identify, recruit, and develop leadership, build community around that leadership, and build power from the resources of that community.
The goal of modules offered in the Electoral Campaign cluster is to train experts in running a successful electoral campaign. Through the different courses offered in this cluster — Polling, Six Steps to Win the Elections, Research, Strategy and Targeting, Becoming a Powerful Communicator, Message Development, Building a Communication Strategy, Mobilizing Resources, Issue Identification and Policy Development, Voter Contact, Campaign Planning, Getting on a List — trainers learn about the techniques of running a campaign, and building a strong team to succeed in the elections. These modules are intended as a resource for different trainers, including: individual political and civil society activists looking to improve their skills as organizers and agents of change, prospective candidates who want a step-by-step program for planning and executing an electoral campaign, electoral campaign staff looking for a toolkit to manage resources and target voters, and political activists and leaders who understand that a good campaign leads to a stronger and more successful party. Some of the course readers in this cluster have been localized and adapted from Shannon O'connell’s Campaign Skills Handbook.
This module is intended as an introduction to basics of polling where trainers learn the difference between polling and indoctrinating or generating opinions. It also sheds some light on the importance of polling in an electoral campaign process, the different components of polling as well as the analysis and evaluation of results.
Six Steps to Win the Elections
This module provides political parties and candidates with step-by-step guidelines for developing an effective campaign plan. It covers topics such as conducting campaign research, targeting voters, developing a campaign message, and constructing a voter contact plan.
Research, Strategy and Targeting
Electoral campaigns are exciting opportunities for candidates and political parties to evaluate what are truly offering the public, and to establish stronger ties with their voters. The better a campaign team or political party plans and prepares for an election, the more it will achieve and the stronger it will become. This module focuses on the necessary tools for answering the core questions of any campaign: how many votes will it take to win, and where does the campaign find this support? The content of this module includes techniques to calculate the number of votes a candidate or party might need to win on election day, as well as methods of locating and communicating with potential supporters.
Becoming a Powerful Communicator
Whether it’s meeting voters on the campaign trail, articulating your opinion in party meetings, talking to journalists or giving a speech, effective communication makes a difference. This module covers how to prepare for different types of communication events focusing in particular on speeches and interviews. Preparation is the key to overcoming many major communications challenges, including managing stage fright and making sure you are actually connecting with your audience. Whether standing in front of hundreds at an event, talking to a reporter one-on-one, meeting with donors or giving a television interview, the tips included in this module will help you become a powerful, effective communicator for your candidacy and your political party.
As a candidate or political party competing in an election one of your challenges will be communicating with your targeted voters in a way that is meaningful, memorable and persuasive. Crafting and consistently using a compelling message is essential to persuading targeted voters to vote for you. This module covers the fundamentals of political communications: what is a political message, why having one is important, and how to come up with an authentic and compelling message for an electoral campaign.
Building a Communication Strategy
Communicating to voters and potential supporters through the media is a challenge for every campaign, especially in areas where the media might be controlled by other parties or interests. But working strategically with the media can really pay off for your campaign, allowing you to reach more voters and convince them with your message. A strategic communications plan will help ensure that you are taking advantage of every opportunity to inform, inspire and motivate your supporters through the media. This module covers the tools and skills needed to build this communications plan, which will draw attention to your campaign from both traditional (television, radio and newspaper) and new (Internet, blogs and social media) outlets.
Finding the financial, material and human resources your political party or electoral campaign needs can be a challenge. Most parties and candidates struggle to collect all of the assets they require, especially in an election year when there are strong demands on resources. Successful candidates and political parties know not only how to raise money, but how to bring in and manage other types of resources. This means finding supporters who can provide services or material goods in lieu of funds, as well as recruiting volunteers who can offer free skills and labor. This module explores the skills and techniques involved in resource recruitment and management
Issue Identification and Policy Development
Developing policy proposals that address societal problems, challenges and opportunities is a critical part of a political party or candidate’s responsibilities. It is a core component of leadership and of governing. It is also one of the most challenging functions that elected officials, candidates and political parties perform. This module looks at the different options for approaching policy development, institutionalizing the capacity to formulate policy on a regular basis, and effectively disseminating messages on policy issues. Because policy development is most often undertaken by political parties, this module focuses largely on how a party as an organization would approach the topic.
As soon as you make the decision to run for office, the campaign planning phase begins. The campaign plan is a strategic document that details each step of the campaign and how it will be implemented. In an electoral campaign, the planning process is as important as the plan itself. A strong process allows you to think through each item on the plan, what resources you will need, what obstacles you will face, and what activities you will engage in on a daily basis to achieve your goals. Envisioning each of these items in advance creates a strategic advantage and enables you to more efficiently take advantage of available resources and manage any surprises that may come up along the way.
One of the most important roles of candidates, political parties and party activists is direct communication with voters. In political organizational terms, this is known as voter contact. This module covers how to prepare for, organize and implement an effective voter contact effort. Campaigns typically communicate with voters in the months and weeks leading up to the election. Political parties should be prepared to engage in voter contact activities year-round, whether or not there is an election on the horizon. There are important strategic considerations for planning a voter contact in the context of any election that this module covers.
Getting on a List
The quality of any democratic system of government is directly tied to the abilities and commitments of those elected for public office. Because societies, economies and demographics are always shifting, representative forms of government constantly require innovative ideas, different perspectives and renewed energies. This requires nominating new faces as candidates as potential future elected officials. This module will walk you through these steps.
The aim of this cluster is to gain the necessary skills for critical understanding of trainer’s social and political environment. The modules in this cluster cover how a an issue becomes a problem and or a public issue. They provide an opportunity to discuss and analyze economic and social policies in our societies in the ways they directly affect our lives. These modules enhance trainer’s managerial skills so they can think of possible policies to address the most pressing issues of their milieu depending on its specific economic and social context. Modules such as “Public Policy,” “Advocacy and Lobbying,” as well as “Women’s Leadership” introduce the main actors in policy making, and how to take advantage of these potential actors to make effective change and address public issues.
Each decision making organization, from the cabinet to the city council is constantly studying conflicting opinions about public affairs. These issues are the basis of different policies written and implemented. While it is impossible to design and implement public policies that all the people and officials agree on, understanding the roots of the problems and differences is a first and necessary step in finding solutions. This module covers how to design and write policies with the goal of finding solutions to problems. It approaches policy making both as a means of political engagement and a way of finding practical solutions to the public’s problems.
Gender Responsive Budgeting
Gender Responsive Budgeting (GBR) brings issues of equality between women and men to one of the strongholds of masculine policy making, the public budget: how decisions are made, on what public money is spent and who benefits how much. It is also about how women and especially women as aspiring for public office can use public finance to get involved and make a change. The module offers an understanding of what gender responsive budgeting means vis a vis misconceptions. It introduces GRB as taking into account gender across the board for all policy making, analyzing all policy through a gender lens and studying the consequences of the different changes and processes of budgeting.
Advocacy is the activity of an individual or a group which aims to influence the internal decisions of governments: political, economical and social institutions. The module introduces advocacy in its two most common forms of lobbying and campaigning. It also covers how the possible benefits of authorities may be taken into account to affect their decision making in this process.
Research shows there are fundamental differences between the learning processes of adults and children. Therefore it is ineffective to apply the same techniques we use for teaching children to adults. For instance, practical models are preferred for adults compared to theoretical or abstract ones. The Adult Learning cluster offers an overview of participatory learning and the trainer’s responsibilities when teaching adults. The aim of these modules is to train individuals who would be capable of training other adults using the techniques learnt here.
This module covers the basics of adult learning, how to write a curriculum and teach it. It introduces the trainer to different teaching methods, as well as the use of different audiovisual materials and aids. The use of this module’s course reader is permitted by its developer, Tavana Institute. Tavana is a nonprofit organization that uses information and communication technology towards education and to support active citizenship and civic leadership in Iran through a multi-platform civic education and civil society capacity building program.
This module covers how to develop a successful educational program, develop techniques and methods to enhance student participation, as well as how to control and manage conflict. The goal is to give an introduction to participatory learning, and the necessary skills for it. It also discusses the methods, techniques and strategies that facilitators may use to optimize participation through learning.