This narrative review synthesises a selection of key evidence based on a rapid, non-systematic literature review (this makes it subject to limitations).The evidence base offers no comparative rankings on which types of interventions, and which specific interventions, have been more effective. Overall, it shows that the interventions most frequently used by aid actors, including donors, have had mixed effectiveness, although on balance outcomes and results seem to be positive. There have been four major strands of interventions: combining multiple types of interventions; directly supporting women leaders; mainstreaming gender and transforming political institutions; and focusing on political parties. Within each, common types of interventions have included creating and institutionalising, supporting relations between elected women and constituencies, supporting parliaments to become gender-responsive and women-friendly. This can address women and men. It can be about encouraging the promotion of more women into leadership, as well as shifting parliamentary norms, infrastructure, and culture. Activities to do this can include media campaigns, engagement with men parliamentarians and citizens, better rearranging of sitting hours, entitling members to parental leave, providing breastfeeding rooms, and establishing childcare centres in parliament. Interventions in this area appear to have largely been effective. There are variations by region and country in the interventions frequently used, and in which interventions were effective. The most effective strategies reflect the combination of factors that affect women’s individual and collective political agency (e.g. capacities, resources, and social norms) that bring together multiple interventions, sectors, and stakeholders, and work at multiple levels (e.g. local, national, and regional) and address multiple inequalities (e.g. class, ethnicity, disability), not just gender. They work with groups of women, not just individuals. They also factor in the roles of families, communities, men, and boys, as allies or resistors at elite and grassroots levels. On the other hand, the most effective strategies also entail strategic prioritisation based on the country context, to choose the right sequencing and interventions. The review found that aid actors’ own practices affect effectiveness. They need to commit enough funding and staff, and apply good programming. They also need to promote women into leadership, stop relying on separate gender programmes and teams, and incentivise collaboration, not silos. Lastly, a number of factors and conditions outside interventions matter, but evidence is insufficient and too context-specific to identify the necessary or sufficient variables. One finding is that even otherwise effective programme will fail when political, economic, social, or cultural factors and conditions are overwhelmingly negative, for example due to structural gender inequalities, or to patronage-based loyalty to party over gender justice.
Please provide a selection of rigorous references about the effectiveness of donor support to help women in leadership positions in formal politics be effective. What roles do donors have in supporting these efforts, and what is their effectiveness? Where possible, identify evidence on various types of interventions, their effectiveness, the challenges, and the conditions required (including the wider context) for the interventions to be effective.