The internet is a tool that can simplify and encourage democratic engagement, but the rise of online disinformation challenges even the world’s most robust democracies. While the most recognizable disinformation campaigns are related to national politics, disinformers frequently employ narratives targeting women’s gender and sexuality in order to disrupt democracy. This is often then amplified by media agents and the general population, who may not have the intent to drive disinformation nor the capacity to discern it. NDI’s robust research in this field concludes that gendered disinformation is the use of false information to confuse or mislead by manipulating gender as a social cleavage to attack women and/or to sway political outcomes. It has three primary goals: to keep women out of politics; to change the views of women and men about women’s political participation; and specifically to change party policies or political outcomes. In short, it aims to undermine women’s free and equal participation in politics to the detriment of inclusive, resilient democracy.
Based on research conclusions, this paper outlines recommendations for NDI, its partners and those working globally to mitigate the democratic harms of disinformation, to ensure women’s safe participation and leadership in politics, and to monitor the social media and information environment in elections.
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