In most countries, political parties are the primary and most effective structure through which women become politically engaged and get elected. Political parties’ practices, policies, and values can have a deep impact on women’s political participation and representation. Indeed, political parties nominate candidates in local and national elections, provide campaign funding, rally voters, set policy and governance priorities, and form governments.
In January 2019, globally women held just 24.3% of all parliamentary seats and 20.7% of ministerial positions. Although women’s political participation and representation has increased in recent years, progress is very slow. The unequal representation of women in decision-making bodies is an obstacle to achieving gender equality in society and the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals by the 2030 target.
A study by International IDEA on political parties’ commitments in 33 African countries found a significant gap between parties’ written general commitments to achieving gender equality and specific measures to enforce and implement these commitments. Another study focused on Latin America revealed that 30% of political parties barely refer to gender equality in their internal governance documents at all.
For efforts to promote women’s equal and full political participation to be effective, they must include strategies for political parties to ensure their constitution, structures, processes, and financing are gender responsive and inclusive of all women. It is crucial that political parties encourage women’s participation and integrate gender equality issues in their policies and programmes to ensure diversity of views and no one is left behind.
iKNOW Politics and its partners are convening this e-Discussion to exchange knowledge on the role of political parties in promoting women’s political participation and representation and good practices on ways to increase and strengthen their contribution to achieving gender equality in politics and the wider society. Political party leaders and members, politicians, experts, practitioners, and researchers are invited to join the e-Discussion from 13 August to 3 September 2019. The submissions will contribute to the elaboration of a Consolidated Reply that will augment the knowledge base available on this topic.
- Do political parties in your country publicly express commitment to gender equality? If so, is this commitment reflected in their actions (e.g. leadership structure, candidate nominations, campaign financing, and policies)?
- What can political parties do to promote women’s political participation and representation within their organizations and in politics in general? What can they do to better include young women, women with disabilities, and indigenous women?
- Do you know of instances where political parties gained greater electoral success following the implementation of gender affirmative action measures?
- Violence against women in politics is a widespread phenomenon. What can political parties do to stop it?
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 Ballington, J., Davis. R., Reith, M., Mitchell, L., Njoki, C., Kozma, A., Powley, E., ‘Empowering Women for Stronger Political Parties: A Guidebook to Promote Women’s Political Participation’, 2011 (NDI and UNDP): iknowpolitics.org/en/learn/knowledge-resources/empowering-women-stronger-political-parties-guidebook-promote-womens
 UN Women and Inter-parliamentary Union, ‘Women in Politics: 2019’: iknowpolitics.org/en/learn/knowledge-resources/women-politics-map-2019
 Rosas, V., Llanos, B. and Garzón de la Roza, G., ‘Gender and Political Parties: Far from Parity’, 2011 (Stockholm and New York: Inter-American Development Bank and International IDEA)
IKAT US Component 1 lead by Partnership for Governance Reform in Indonesia (Kemitraan) and in partnership with the NDI for International Affairs along with regional partners: Indonesian Women's Coalition (KPI), Persatuan Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER) from Malaysia, Women's Caucus from Timor Leste, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), the Center for Popular Empowerment from the Philippines work together to strengthen representative democracy and the political rights of women by advocating the promotion of women's political representation through regional partnership initiatives.
At the moment, Kemitraan in collaboration with its regional partners are conducting regional research projects on several topics. One of them is the analysis of the current political party's recruitment system that promotes more women into the candidacy list as well as the parties' organizational leadership structure. On this topic, the focus was on the analysis of the current political party recruitment system in Indonesia, Timor-Leste and the Philippines. The research has been conducted since September and is expected to finish in the end of December 2012. To sharpen and enrich the result of the research, Kemitraan with iKNOW Politics is conducting this E-Discussion Circle from 26 November to 15 December 2012.
There are four main questions that this research seeks to answer, which include:
(1) Do cultural and/or societal factors explain the fact that certain female candidates get recruited by political parties and eventually elected by the electorates? What makes some women politicians successful while others are not?;
(2) On the part of the candidates, what motivates/causes candidates (especially female candidates) to decide whether or not to run for office and therefore approach (or let themselves to be approached by) the political party’s leadership?;
(3) On the part of the political party leaderships, what factors do they consider when they are selecting female candidates to be nominated? What factors are considered when filling leadership positions within the party?;
(4) Do electoral factors explain the fact that certain female candidates got recruited by political parties and eventually elected by the electorates? Does a particular election system affect the chance of female candidates being recruited and eventually elected? What electoral features increase the probability of female candidates winning seats in the parliament?
Thank you in advance for your comments, inputs and feedbacks.
How do we get more young women engaging in political parties? The Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy will be examining this question at its Copenhagen Seminar on Women in Politics in September 2012, for which a background paper will be prepared. Maryse Helbert, an expert from DIPD would like to use the iKNOW Politics platform to explore this topic and share information about positive and negative experiences.
Promoting and supporting young women’s engagement in politics is not without challenges. Historically, patriarchal norms, electoral system structures and male-dominated political cultures have put up barriers to young women’s participation in politics. More recently, a multiplication of approaches to political action, and a diversification of the means through which this political action happens (e.g. social media), has perhaps lowered some barriers to young women’s participation while raising others. Yet, despite these challenges and developments, promoting young women in formal politics remains crucial for the vitality of democracy.
This discussion aims to share positive experiences in recruiting more young women in political parties.
• Who has been trying to recruit more young women in political parties and succeeded at it?
• What programmes, strategies, approaches, methods and ideas have been successful?
Negative experiences would also be welcomed as it would give us ideas about what not to do.
We look forward to hearing your views on some/all of these questions and sharing your experiences on this important issue with our users worldwide. To submit your contributions on one or several discussion questions mentioned above, please visit our website at www.iknowpolitics.org and register for the E-Discussion.