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Parliaments & Representatives

Recently, elected women from France, Canada, Scotland and Israel, to name a few examples, publicly condemned misogynist and violent political cultures. Not only did they expose acts of harassment and violence in politics, they made the case that violence should not be the price of participating in politics. Violence against women in politics (VAWP) limits women’s political opportunities and discourages or prevents them from exercising their political rights, including their rights as voters, candidates, party supporters or public officials.

VAWP can occur during electoral campaigns, but not only: as women assume various political positions, they may, for example, be pressured to resign from their posts on the basis of gender, or verbally threatened  or intimidated because they are women in politics; and VAWP may take many other forms, including in sexist stereotypes and images portrayed in the media, which, particularly in the digital age, focus on women’s bodies, sexuality and traditional social roles, rather than their competence, capacity and contributions as leaders. 

Please click here to read the full concept note of this e-Discussion.

Click here to access the consolidated reply.  

This e-Discussion seeks to bring the experiences of the iKNOW Politics community into this growing dialogue on VAWP. Please join us in the e-Discussion from 22 August to 16 October 2016.


  1. What is violence against women in politics, and what forms does it take? What are its key drivers? Is VAWP particular to specific countries, regions, cultures, or institutions?
  2. Who are the perpetrators of VAWP, and what are their motives? 
  3. What are the consequences of VAWP on women, society and democracy?
  4. Are there any successful mechanisms/instruments to expose acts of VAWP (e.g. reporting, services for victims, rules of conduct)?
  5. Who has responsibility to address VAWP, and what types of partnerships are necessary to do so successfully?
  6. Can you identify any specific legislation, programs, trainings, studies, and awareness-raising campaigns, which help prevent punish and sanction political violence against women? 

Please note that there are different options to send your contributions:

  1. Login with your iKNOW Politics member credentials. If you are not a member yet, please sign up using the profile icon on the top right of this page. Please check your email to confirm registration. Once a member, you will be able to use the comment section. Comments will wait for the approval of the iKNOW Politics Team.
  2. Use the below comment section by signing in with one of your social media accounts.  
  3. Send your contributions to or

Worldwide, several challenges to the full realization of women's rights persist, and women continue face discrimination in access to education, work, social protection, inheritance, economic assets, productive resources and participation in decision-making and society at large.

Gender discrimination is defined as "...any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment

or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field." (The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly). 

Please click here to read the full concept note of this e-Discussion.

Please click here to access the consolidated reply of this e-Discussion.



The e-Discussion will take place from 16 May to 12 June 2016


Addressing gaps: enactment vs. enforcement

  1. Please share concrete examples of reforms from your country (e.g. type of law, actors involved, recipe for success)? What entities exist to report and track impact of these reforms?
  2. Please identify the major challenges to amend and repeal discriminatory provisions in existing laws in your country and /or to introduce new legislation protecting women, including young women, and girls where no law exists and/or implement existing gender equality legislation. If possible, please explain the steps and actors involved in making these changes.


 Measures, mechanisms and institutions

  1. Did your country adopt temporary measures that increased women’s representation in politics and public administration? What gender quality mechanisms or structures exist in your Parliament (committee, caucus etc…)?
  2. Are you aware of the existence of gender analysis efforts and gender impact analysis initiatives taken in your country’s governmental or parliamentary bodies? Can you share information on the way such analysis are carried out? Can you share good practices and lessons learned in this regard?

      Collective action

  1.      Can you give successful examples of concerted coordination between decision makers, civil society organizations and women’s rights networks that have made significant changes to legislative frameworks in your country? What factors made it a success? 
  2.      Please provide examples of initiatives that built the capacities of institutions to map, investigate and push for the amendment of laws and if available the positive tangible impacts these had on advancing gender equality in your country.


Please note that there are different options to send your contributions:

  1.     Login with your iKNOW Politics member credentials. If you are not a member yet, please sign up using the profile icon on the top right of this page. Please check your email to confirm registration. Once a member, you will be able to use the comment section. Comments will wait for the approval of the iKNOW Politics Team.
  2.      Use the below comment section by signing in with one of your social media accounts.  
  3.      Send your contributions to 

Parliaments are key stakeholders in the promotion and achievement of gender equality. Parliamentary oversight processes provide and opportunity to ensure that governments maintain commitments to gender equality. While women parliamentarians have often assumed responsibility for this oversight, many parliaments are taking a more holistic approach by establishing dedicated mechanisms and systematic processes across all policy areas to mainstream the advancement of gender equality.

The oversight role of parliamentarians is linked to the very notion of external accountability, the democratic control of the government by the parliament, among other bodies. Since gender equality improves the quality of democracy, the parliamentary oversight of gender equality is a key aspect of modern parliaments and a fundamental contribution for the achievement of sustained democratic practices.

Against this backdrop and to contribute to the forthcoming second Global Parliamentary Report on Parliament's power to hold government to account: Realities and perspectives on oversight - a joint publication of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) - iKNOW Politics is moderating an e-Discussion on 'Parliamentary Oversight of Gender Equality'. The e-Discussion runs from 25 January - 28 February 2016 and seeks to highlight the willingness and capacity of parliaments to keep governments accountable

on the goal of gender equality and ensure parliamentary oversight is gender-sensitive, as well as the opportunities available to both women and men parliamentarians to engage in oversight. One of the main objectives of this e-Discussion, thus, is to find best practices that will help to strengthen external accountability and the consolidation of sustained democratic practices.

The conclusions of this e-Discussion will be incorporated into the global report. More information on the report is available at 

iKNOW Politics members (politicians, experts, academics, CSOs, and think tanks) are encouraged to respond with concrete examples, experiences and recommendations to the questions outlined below. Please follow the following steps to send your comment(s):

Please fell free to respond to as many, or few, questions as you like. There is no requirement to provide responses to all the questions. Please participate by emailing or by posting your comments online in the iKNOW Politics forum below. 

Please click here to read the full concept note of this e-Discussion.

Access the Consolidated Reply here and the full report following this link.


1. PARLIAMENT MECHANISMS FOR OVERSIGHT                           

-Has parliament created mechanisms to oversee the government’s gender equality commitments? How effective have they been? What are the reasons for their successes and shortcomings, and what could be improved?

-To what extent does parliament scrutinize the budget from a gender perspective? Are parliamentarians able to hold government to account for the extent to which expenditure has produced results for women and men?

-To what extent does parliament engage with the national reporting process on Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women? Does parliament monitor the executive’s response to recommendations by the CEDAW Committee?

-Is it possible to identify specific outcomes of parliamentary oversight of gender equality? Where a particular result has been achieved, what produced these outcomes?

2. MONITORING OF GENDER EQUALITY                              

-To what extent does parliament monitor the impact of gender equality / non-discrimination legislation after it has been adopted? Do you have concrete examples how this has been done? What is the role of parliament when legislation is not put into practice, or does not have the intended effects?


-What can be done to build political will for women and men parliamentarians to engage equally in oversight of gender equality issues?

-Where caucuses of women parliamentarians exist, have they provided effective in building cross-party support for work on gender equality? To what extent have they been able to engage with government and hold it to account?

-How extensively does parliament engage women’s groups outside parliament to support monitoring progress and setbacks with regard to gender equality? What the opportunities to strengthen these partnerships?

-To what extent are parliamentarians supported in undertaking gender-sensitive oversight training, staff, and budgets?


Please note that there are different options to send your contributions:

1. Login with your iKNOW Politics member credentials. If you are not a member yet, please sign up using the profile icon on the top right of this page. Please check your email to confirm registration. Once a member, you will be able to use the comment section. Comments will wait for the approval of the iKNOW Politics Team.

2. Use the below comment section by signing in with one of your social media accounts.  

3. Send your contributions to 

"Whenever I am asked what the missing link is between a promising businessperson and a successful one, mentoring comes to mind; if you are looking to make your way in business, try to find a mentor. If you are in a position to share the skills you have learned, give something back by becoming a mentor yourself.” CEO VIRGIN

In the private sector, mentorship programs have been proven successful in creating a new generation of leaders.  The public sector learnt from these successes and copied them by organizing its own mentorship programs. Consequently, some parliaments followed suit by providing mentorship programs for incoming MPs or programs that allow people to shadow an MP in their daily functions to better understand the work of the Parliament and of that particular MP and their constituency, such as in the UK. 

Given the complexity of a Parliament, candidates and first time Parliamentarians are keen to get advice from those who have previous experience with particular issues.  Mentorship programs have been organized at national and regional levels. At the national level, Parliaments are exploring new ways of guiding young MPs through the complex structures of Parliament.  At the regional level, Parliaments are providing mentorship projects, which go beyond the traditional study trip tours, through online networks and intensive collaboration between parliamentarians.

Q1: Have you ever been part of a mentorship program (as mentor or mentee)? If so, could you share your experiences?

Q2: Do you know of successful mentorship projects targeting women candidates and parliamentarians. Why were these projects successful? 

Q3:  Are ‘in-person’ meetings critical for a successful mentorship programme or could online mentoring be just as useful?


Women’s political and socio-economic status improves when women become more involved in decision making and policy development at all levels of governance.  Through their active involvement in community work and women’s movements, local women politicians are fully aware of issues faced by women in their communities and are uniquely positioned to address them. The role of women in decision making has been addressed by various international agreements and conventions, CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action (1995), to name a few.

In 2009, iKNOW Politics organized an e-discussion on women in local governance. During this e-discussion participants agreed that including women in local governments is a key factor in creating gender sensitive policies and services. Participants believed that women politicians can be active advocates of women’s issues among their colleagues in the local government and vital for mainstreaming gender perspectives in policies, but nevertheless expressed the need for further research to document this.  

In this discussion, iKNOW Politics is seeking more encouraging examples from all over the world, highlighting the impact women leaders have in changing the way business is conducted in local governance such as in district, provincial and regional assemblies and local (rural and urban) councils.

  • What is the percentage of women in local assemblies and councils?  Are there any cultural or institutional barriers for women to become politically active in your community?
  • Is there a correlation between women’s political participation at the local and national level? Do you know women national leaders who started their career in local governance? Are there any specific programmes or structures in place supporting local elected women to become leaders at the national level?
  • Has your local government undertaken any gender analysis as part of comprehensive policy, programmes and service planning and delivery?
  • Does having more women in local governments lead to the creation of more gender sensitive programmes and legislation as well as empowering other women in local communities?

The priority theme of the 57th UN Commission of the Status of Women will be the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.

Inequalities in women's lives are complex and intersected and violence against women and girls can be tackled from many angles by different stakeholders.

It is an issue of universal interest, affecting women and girls globally, and parliamentarians can play a role in the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. To support parliamentarians in their preparation for CSW 57, in March 2013, iKNOW Politics will run an online discussion, in partnership with the Gender Parliamentary Reference Group of AGORA (the Portal for Parliamentary Development). This virtual discussion will focus on:

  • Identifying the gaps and challenges in achieving the most effective responses among parliamentarians on this issue
  • Highlighting the most effective parliamentary mechanisms for building policy and legislation to prevent violence, to support victims/survivors, and to tackle primary prevention (stopping violence before it starts)
  • Discussing the impact violence against women has on perpetuating unequal gender political representation

Through this discussion, iKNOW Politics members and the Gender Parliamentary Reference Group can answer questions, and share experiences and best practices of parliamentarians' work to eliminate gender-based violence. All are welcome to participate!

From 9 November through 23 November 2012, iKNOW Politics will co-host a virtual discussion on the elimination and prevention of violence against women with AGORA (


In this on-the-record briefing, Professor O’Brien discusses gender and politics. She also speaks about the impact of electing more women, the importance of women’s representation in the political and economic decision-making process, if the number of women running for office globally are increasing or decreasing, and gender differences in voter turnout.

Diana O’Brien is the Bela Kornitzer Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis. Her teaching focuses on the causes and consequences of women’s political representation across the globe. Her areas of study are gender and political parties, legislative politics, executive branch politics, and citizens responses to women’s presence in politics.

MODERATOR:  Hello and welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center’s virtual briefing on Women in Politics.  My name is Doris Robinson and I am the briefing moderator.  Our briefer today is Diana O’Brien; she is the Bela Kornitzer Distinguished Professor in the Department of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis.  Her research and teaching focus on the – focuses on the causes and consequences of women’s political representation in high-income democracies, including Western Europe and the United States, as well as across the globe.  Her areas of study are gender and political parties, legislative and executive branch politics, as well as citizen responses to women’s presence in politics.  

And now for the ground rules. This briefing is on the record. We will post the transcript and a video of the briefing later today on our website at  And a quick reminder, please make sure that your Zoom profile has your name and media outlet that you represent. And finally, before Professor O’Brien makes opening remarks, just a quick reminder that she is an independent subject matter expert and the views expressed by briefers not affiliated with the Department of State are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Government. Their participation in FPC programming does not imply endorsement, approval, or recommendation of their views.  

And with that, I will now invite Professor O’Brien to provide opening remarks. Over to you.

Read here the full briefing published by the USA Department of State on 16 April 2024.

Image by USA Department of State

As part of Strathclyde Women's Week 2024, we are focusing on the work of Humanities & Social Sciences academics whose research relates particularly to the experiences of women and girls.

Dr Stefanie Reher is a Reader in Politics at the University of Strathclyde, working within the Department of Government & Public Policy. Dr Reher's research focuses on political representation, behaviour, and attitudes.

She is currently working on several projects about the representation of disabled people in politics. Last year - in collaboration with Prof. Elizabeth Evans of the University of Southampton - she published Gender, disability and political representation: understanding the experiences of disabled women in the European Journal of Politics and Gender.

We asked Dr Reher about the barriers disabled women face to participation in representative politics, the methods behind the research and what needs to be done to improve inclusion. 

Click here to read the full article published by the University of Strathclyde on 20 March 2024.

Image source: University of Strathclyde

Female politicians have asked their male counterparts to desist from the habit of sexually harassing them, saying the vice is rampant in Uganda’s political corridors.

Speaking during a dialogue organized by the Netherlands Institute for Multi-party Democracy on Thursday (December 7, 2023), female politicians led by former Kumi Woman MP Monica Amoding and Edith Sempala, Uganda’s former Ambassador to the US, said they suffer sexual harassment from male voters, colleagues, technocrats and bosses. We have a report.

Click here to read the full article published by The New Vision on 11 December 2023.

Image by The New Vision


Saratsanun Unnopporn serves as a Parliament member in Thailand.

Interview conducted by iKNOW Politics during the 145th Inter-Parliamentary Union’s Assembly in Kigali, Rwanda, in October 2022.


SENATE President Mabel Chinomona has condemned violence against female legislators saying it erodes trust and confidence that citizens place in their elected representatives.

Chinomona said there was a need to enact and enforce legislation that criminalised and penalised violence against women in politics.

“This legislation should include clear definitions, stringent penalties, and avenues for redress, ensuring a robust and unambiguous deterrent against such malpractices,” Chinomona said.

Click here to read the full article published by NewsDay Zimbabwe on 24 November 2023.

Image by NewsDay Zimbabwe


Justice Minister Helen McEntee has opened up about how it can be a “challenge” to raise two children as a cabinet minister and how she sometimes feels “guilty” when she struggles to find a work-life balance.

Speaking to The Baby Tribe podcast, Ms McEntee discussed life as a mother to two sons and being the first minister to take maternity leave.

She said her view “hasn’t changed” on whether women “can do everything and they should be allowed to do everything”, but she acknowledged that it is hard at times.

Click here to read the full article published by the Irish Independent on 14 November 2023.

Image by Irish Independent



This online resource will guide you in implementing the OECD Recommendation on Gender Equality in Public Life. In addition to better familiarising you with the Principles, the Toolkit lets you compare indicators and good practices in use in numerous countries. The self-assessment tools will help governments assess the strengths and weaknesses of their gender policies, which in turn, will help policy makers set priorities for improvement.

Source: OECD

This action kit is a practical tool for unpacking gender responsive budgeting (GRB) and engaging parliaments and parliamentarians in strengthening scrutiny and oversight of gender responsive budget formulation, execution, and evaluation. As a result of their interventions, the budget process can be more participatory, inclusive, and effective.

This publication is directed primarily to actors who want to build an effective system for integrating GRB into the annual state budget process. This includes Members of Parliament (MPs), parliamentary staff and committees, caucuses of women MPs, as well as other actors, including UN Women or other United Nations entities who may want to initiate and support a stronger role for parliament and MPs in GRB.

The action kit is divided into sections:

  • Building government systems to support GRB through the budget cycle;
  • Parliament’s role in engaging with GRB in the budget process; and
  • Programmatic interventions to support parliaments in the GRB process.

To ensure the guidance and information provided in the publication are grounded in practice, country examples of GRB implementation and entry points for parliamentary engagement are included.

Click here to access the publication.

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) today published a “Participatory Gender Audits of Parliaments, a Step-by-Step Guidance Document,” which offers comprehensive tools and detailed steps on how parliaments can fully capitalize on their potential to implement a gender-sensitive and intersectional approach to legislative processes.

The PA and ODIHR collaborated on the publication, which sets out how to implement participatory gender audits through a clear framework and step-by-step process. The Guide recognizes that each parliament is unique and will undertake the audit in unique circumstances and it allows parliaments to choose the scope of the audit, the format and the timescale within which it will be conducted. As such, it adds to the extensive OSCE acquis in support of all parliaments of the region and it is in line with institutions’ respective mandates to advocate for ensuring transparency and accountability of all parliamentary procedures, practices, and standards, including those aimed at gender mainstreaming and conducting gender audits or assessments.

The “Participatory Gender Audits of Parliaments, a Step-by-Step Guidance Document” complements the “Realizing Gender Equality in Parliament: A Guide for Parliaments in the OSCE Region,” published in December 2021, which brought together lessons learned and good practices from 46 national parliaments in North America, Europe and Central Asia on introducing and improving gender sensitivity in parliaments, on which the two Institutions have also closely co-operated.

Click here to access the report.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s Gender Sensitising Parliamentary Guidelines: A Seven-Step Field Guide (‘Field Guide’) provides a blueprint for Commonwealth parliaments interested in undertaking a Gender Sensitive Parliament (GSP) review of their institutions with the objective of making their parliaments more representative and inclusive. The Field Guide builds on earlier Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and Commonwealth Women Parliamentarian’s (CWP) gender sensitising reports, in which a GSP is defined as a place that responds to the needs and interests of women in its structures, operations, methods, and work and is a workplace that removes barriers to women’s full participation.

GSP reviews have the potential to respond to the needs of parliamentary members and staff who identify as women or as belonging to another marginalised group, and in some Commonwealth contexts, this includes people with intersecting identities, such as Indigenous People, Black People, and People of Colour, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer+ People (LGBTQ+), and people living with disabilities.

Click here to access the guide.

This course, written by Dr Sonia Palmieri, explores why and how to build gender sensitive parliaments. Rich in case studies, it sketches the international framework for action and outlines opportunities for shaping contextually-appropriate parliamentary processes and norms. 

Click here to access the course.

Parliaments have a key role in ensuring not only that everyone is properly represented in decision-making, but also that legislation and government actions take account of the needs and experiences of women and men on an equal basis. However, the achievement of gender equality requires more than commitments and good intentions. It is reliant on action.

This Guide is designed to help parliamentarians, officials, civil society and democracy-support organizations undertake gender-sensitive scrutiny. It provides a model for gender-sensitive scrutiny and demonstrates how the techniques can be used when carrying out pre- and post-legislative scrutiny, conducting oversight and monitoring budgets. It also provides case studies and resources.

Click here to access the guide.

This guide is designed to help Members and staff of the Parliament of Malaysia undertake gender-sensitive scrutiny of laws, budgets, and policies.

Click here to download the guide published by INTER PARES.

This guide is designed to help Members and staff of the Parliament of Bhutan undertake gender-sensitive scrutiny of laws, budgets, and policies.

Click here to download the guide published by INTER PARES.

This practical guide is intended to support the full range of parliamentary actors — from parliamentary leadership teams, members of parliament, and political and parliamentary staff, to parliamentary practitioners and civil society organizations dealing with gender equality issues — in transforming these institutions into gender-sensitive parliaments.

Click here to access the guide.

This Primer highlights practical ways Members of Parliament (MPs) and parliamentary staff can take action to ensure COVID-19 response and recovery decision-making address women’s needs. It is informed by the differential impacts of the disease on women as documented to date, and the common needs and challenges expressed by MPs and parliamentary staff adapting to new priorities and ways of working around the world. A Checklist is included to guide MPs and parliamentary staff on gender-sensitive options for COVID-19 response and recovery both during and beyond the pandemic.

Click here to see the primer.