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)