Turning the tide on violence against women in politics: How are we measuring up?

Academic Paper / Article

November 16, 2018

Turning the tide on violence against women in politics: How are we measuring up?


Violence against women in politics (VAWP) is a human rights violation, as it prevents the realization of political rights. Violence against women in political and public life can be understood as “any act or threat of gender-based violence, resulting in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering to women, that prevents them from exercising and realizing their political rights, whether in public or private spaces, including the right to vote and hold public office, to vote in secret and to freely campaign, to associate and assemble, and to enjoy freedom of opinion and expression” (UN Women/UNDP 2017, 20).

Although awareness of the gravity and increasing levels of VAWP is growing, the issue is a relatively new area of investigation, with no global statistics or measurements available on prevalence or incidence, a lack of commonly agreed definitions and indicators, a reliance on anecdotal evidence, and underreporting because of the stigma attached to genderbased violence in many societies. The absence of commonly agreed definitions and methodologies for measuring VAWP is a barrier to the advancement of research, monitoring, and policy and programming responses in this field. Are agreed indicators and methodologies for measuring VAWP necessary? How can consistency across different measurement approaches be ensured? This essay examines the extent to which VAWP is measured, identifying gaps in current violence against women (VAW) measurements and considering new opportunities for measuring and monitoring VAWP.

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Resource type: 
Julie Ballington, UN Women. This article has benefited from contributions by Gabriella Borovsky.
The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association
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UN Women