Breaking barriers as a woman in electoral management: “the price I paid for my leadership”

Editorial / Opinion Piece / Blog Post

March 30, 2023

Breaking barriers as a woman in electoral management: “the price I paid for my leadership”


Image credit: Canva Archive/International IDEA

As revealed by International IDEA's recent research, in many countries worldwide, women who serve as electoral officials face numerous challenges in the online space that threaten their mental well-being and physical and online safety. From devaluation of work to being falsely accused of electoral fraud, and from sexual objectification to death threats, these women are massively subjected to gender-based disinformation and a wide range of other profoundly harmful behaviors in the online space.

“I was warned ahead of time that I would become the target of these attacks as a woman chair of the electoral body. The expectation was that since I am a woman, I am not strong enough and I’ll decide to resign.” 

The issue is rooted in the larger problem of gender inequality in the political and electoral spheres. Previous research by International IDEA shows that only 22 per cent of the electoral management bodies (EMBs) across the world are being led by women. Women are vastly underrepresented in positions of power and are often portrayed as incapable of fulfilling these roles, perpetuating gender stereotypes and biases. This not only limits women's opportunities for leadership in electoral management but also reinforces harmful gender-based practices, including discrimination, harassment and gender-based disinformation campaigns. Such attacks can silence women’s voices and discourage them from meaningfully participating in social and political life.   

Click here to read the full article published by International IDEA on 7 March 2023.

Ingrid Bicu
Focus areas: 
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA)