Violence against women in politics is an intolerable violation of women’s rights which poses fundamental challenges to democratic values and electoral processes. To tackle this issue, the Kofi Annan Foundation commissioned Carmen Alanis, the first female Chief Justice at the Superior Chamber of the Electoral Court of Mexico, and member of the Kofi Annan Foundation’s Electoral Integrity Initiative, to produce a policy paper which highlights the barriers women face in their attempts to access political spaces, as well as the challenges they encounter if elected to public office.
In attempts to shed light on the extent of the problem, the paper addresses three vital questions:
- Why do women face barriers in exercising their political and electoral rights?
- If violence against women in politics is a global phenomenon with a negative impact on democracies, why is the problem still not being adequately addressed by states?
- Do current models of access to justice engage with the issue effectively?
The paper demonstrates that violence against women in politics undermines electoral integrity by disregarding the principles of universal suffrage and political equality. These principles are not being fulfilled in both newer and older democracies across the world, with various barriers to equal and universal political participation.
For a long time, women’s interests, voices and opinions were not represented and although this started to change with the advent of women’s suffrage, affirmative measures (such as quotas and reserved seats) and parity, concrete measures still need to be constructed and adopted in order to build truly inclusive democratic societies.
The paper provides a series of recommendations to eliminate violence against women in politics, including actions by States, civil society actors, academics and others. By mobilising the appropriate resources and political will to implement the recommendations, we can help bolster electoral integrity and uphold the values of equality and inclusivity that lie at the heart of democracy.
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On Wednesday 25 November, the International Day to End Violence against Women we also held an online discussion “Eliminating violence against women in politics: what works and what doesn’t?”, featuring experts in the field. More information about the event can be found here