In many places in the world, women struggle to be heard and, when it comes to having a voice in the highest authority in the land, the difficulties in some countries can be almost insurmountable.

Gender issues affect all aspects of an election. There are numerous barriers to women’s participation in political and electoral processes. This module examines strategies for promoting women’s participation in elections,

Who The Workshop Module is Aimed At

This workshop is designed for women and men in electoral management bodies, governments, donor agencies and NGOs, gender specialists, representatives from women’s organisations, as well as individual consultants and trainers, who are interested in gender issues in relation to election processes, and/or have the responsibility of mainstreaming gender in their organizations.

Objectives of the Workshop/Module

The module explores some key governmental and societal elements that must be aligned to ensure women’s ability to participate. These include:

  • legal framework
  • social and political opportunities and openness to political participation
  • access to voter registration and voter education
  • election management and
  • election observation.

Sequence of Topics

  • Introduction: What is gender? What is gender discrimination? What issues face women today?
  • Women and elections— Introduction, Standards and Guidelines
  • The Legal Framework – Women and Elections
  • Access for Women to Register and to Vote
  • Representation By and For Women – Access for Women as Candidates
  • Electoral Systems and Women
  • Women, Voter Education and the Media
  • EMBs and Women’s Participation
  • Gender and Election Observation
  • Evaluation and Conclusion

Workshop aims:

  • Gain appreciation of gender-related and electoral issues and concerns
  • provides guidance on monitoring women’s participation in the electoral process
  • Identify gender biases in electoral processes
  • Acquire skills in identifying and analyzing gender biases and concerns through case examples of strategies and practices to address gender biases.
  • assess the obstacles faced by women in public life.
  • compile ways in which women’s role in election administration can be increased.
  • Formulate Action Plans: Institutional and Individual.

 Contents of the Workshop/Module

The module is structured around the various phases of the electoral cycle and in relation to election management bodies:

1.         Election Phases

  • explores women’s participation as voters, candidates, and elected representatives; the participation of women in leadership roles within state institutions, electoral commissions, and political parties; and how the legal framework and media structures affect women as well as men.
  • for each stage of the electoral process the nature of the barriers that women face when they access/participate in the electoral processes (include poverty, low literacy rates and cultural factors, etc)
  • explore a range of strategies to assist women in accessing electoral processes (and cites various UN declarations and resolutions that highlight government’s obligations to ensure this.)

2.         Election Management Bodies

Election administration is a microcosm of a world where women seldom occupy high-ranking positions or possess significant public status. In this module participants explore some of the obstacles faced by women in the workplace and public life and look at ways in which this can be overcome.

The course focuses on analysing and addressing gender inequality in the staffing, procedures and culture of development organizations as well as in their development programmes. It covers practical strategies and skills for mainstreaming gender – including the use of gender planning frameworks & addressing gender issues in Logical Frameworks and developing gender policies. Critical analysis of current theory and practice is encouraged throughout the course.

It explores best practices drawn from what various actors have accomplished to enhance women’s participation in post-conflict elections and in more stable democracies

3.         Political Life

The module explores the concept that democratic elections are key to peace-building in post-conflict situations, and that women’s participation is vital to ensuring sustainable democracy. Given the acknowledged importance of both democratic elections and the role of women in peace-building, enhancing women’s participation in elections in post-conflict countries is essential to building peace and democracy and advancing the equality of women and men. Elections can provide the best possible opportunity to ensure women’s voices are heard, their concerns are addressed, and their potential contributions to peace and democracy are maximised.

Every meeting with an official, a political party, media representative, or an NGO provides an opportunity to gain insights regarding the rights of women, any barriers to their equal participation in public life, and reforms that might help overcome discrimination where it exists.

Building more equal gender relations is a slow process. There is a need to understand and come to terms with the numerous forms of resistance that are mobilized against change. Resistance can be conscious or unconscious, it can take place at various levels (personal and bureaucratic) and can come from women as well as men.


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