Over a period of eighteen months, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) compiled twenty case studies of party activities to promote women’s political empowerment. Drawing on those and other examples, UNDP and the NDI identified concrete steps that can be taken by political parties to promote women in political life.
This publication provides concise and targeted options for political party reform. It identifies and categorises the range of actions which political parties can take to support women’s participation during different phases of the electoral cycle, including during the pre- and post- election phases, and is targeted to members of political parties, civil society organisations, and gender equality activists. It also draws on 20 case studies which focus on particular political parties, civil society organisations, or other stakeholders in each of the countries, looking at concrete actions aiming to promote women’s political participation.
The most effective strategies to increase women’s participation in political parties combine reforms to political institutions with targeted support to women party activists within and outside party structures, women candidates and elected officials. These strategies require the cooperation of a variety of actors and political parties from across the political spectrum.
Actions that political parties can take to address gender inequality in the candidate-recruitment process include:
- Galvanizing party support for candidate quotas and incorporating these quotas into party statutes;
- Establishing guidelines for candidate recruitment in party-nomination committees;
- Ensuring implementation and placement of women candidates in winning seats;
- Working with civil society organizations to oversee the implementation of quotas;
- Cultivating strategic alliances with men, since men play a critical role in building internal party support for these kinds of policies;
- Expanding the pool of women candidates and training those candidates;
- Encouraging multilateral relations and sharing experiences across countries and regions.
Actions that parties can take during the election period include:
- Providing training to women candidates in such skills as fundraising, message development, media relations and communicating with voters;
- Training and promoting women in campaign leadership positions (e.g. in campaign management, get out the vote, voter contact, and communications);
- Ensuring women’s visibility in the campaign by providing additional media exposure;
- Identifying and disseminating party positions that are priorities for women, which could also attract more women’s votes for their party;
- Monitoring elections, including by recruiting women as party agents to be present at polling stations, particularly if those polling stations are allocated for women only;
- Providing information to voters that include specific messages highlighting the importance of women’s votes and women’s right to vote as equal members of society.
- Ensuring women elected to a political institution are provided with leadership roles within the parliamentary group (e.g. group chairperson) and parliamentary committees (e.g. chairperson or group focal point);
- Forming strategic partnerships with civil society organizations.