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Aspiring female councilors from across Zambia came together last week for a 2 Day retreat in the capital Lusaka. The group of 30 women comprised also of former councilors who where interested in running for council seats that they had previously lost. The retreat hosted by Hivos and supported its by Zambian partners; Zambia National Women's Lobby, Panos Southern Africa Institute and the Non Governmental Organisations' Coordinating Council, took place on the 12th and 13th of December 2017 at the Palm wood Lodge.

The retreat gave aspiring councilors a platform to share their stories, network and work on their individual campaigns. During the retreat the women shared the difficulties they have been facing which included finding opportunities to show their leadership capacity and not getting invited to community meetings were they can contribute to decision making.

As part of the retreat Benjamin Mwape a Zambian communications specialist gave the women pointers on how to ensure they create the opportunities they need to be noticed more as leaders. He also taught the ladies how to deliver a good speech, helped them to write their manifestos and present them.

"Create your own platforms for communication, don't just wait for an invite that may never come. Approach the local community radio stations, volunteer whenever you are in a crowd and get noticed," shared Mwape.

Mwape also advised the women to build networks within the community, saying that without a good relationship with the people already in power no one would be able to put their names on the table in strategic discussions.

The aspiring councilors shared their gratitude for platforms like these that help them boost their confidence and allow them to learn from their current leaders and peers.

The WE4L project aims to have more retreats annually to help women who aspire for leadership roles in their communities and increase women participation in decision making.