The Helene Weber-College is a cross-party, nationwide platform for women in local politics. The college came into being in the context of the Helene Weber Award for outstanding women in local politics, which was first awarded in 2009. As we got to know the first group of award winners, it quickly became apparent that women benefit greatly from cross-party networking.
The college got off the ground in 2011. A central component is the regular mentoring programs, where experienced female local politicians make themselves available as mentors to interested young women. Several hundred women have since taken part in the programs; two-thirds of the participants have subsequently entered local politics. In addition, the College’s website “Frauen Macht Politik” provides up-to-date information, tips for campaigns and public relations work (and make sure to check out a short film of the same name!). Once a year, a nationwide “Kommunalcampus” is held in Berlin.
Reverse mentoring is also exciting: usually, younger women give “seasoned” local politicians tips and training in how to use social media most effectively.