Amujae Leaders and parliamentarians Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings and Fatoumatta Njai joined Amnesty International Kenya Data and Communications Officer Bill Omondi to share their insights on building community and connecting with constituents at a recent event hosted by NationBuilder.
During the session, Ms. Njai, a member of The Gambia’s National Assembly, discussed how she has been able to use her platform to help spark young women and girls’ leadership aspirations. She looked back on one instance in particular when she arranged for 350 girls from across The Gambia to meet with women parliamentarians from the 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). After meeting and speaking with the women parliamentarians, Ms. Njai described the reward in seeing that the young girls went home “quite excited.”
Dr. Agyeman-Rawlings, who is a Member of Parliament in Ghana, emphasized the importance of meeting with her constituents face-to-face:
“A couple of times a week or a couple of times every other week, visits to areas of the community where there are issues. Having a network of people in the constituency who can bring certain things to your attention so you can… visit these areas and see what the issues are gives the opportunity to raise some of these issues on the floor of parliament.”
Ms. Njai agreed, saying that she also regularly meets with her constituents in order to ensure she is attuned to their needs and able to understand and address their concerns. She said:
“The most effective way of building community relationships is by the level of the community and speaking with them in the language and in the tone that they understand.”
Finally, Dr. Agyeman-Rawlings highlighted the emerging role of technology in politics, explaining that the increasing prevalence of smartphones has made it much easier to connect and engage with constituents. Equally, more and more constituents are able to share opinions and information with ease, which can help keep politicians accountable, she said.
You can watch a recording of the full event, organized by NationBuilder and communications consultancy Atalanta, here.