Call for submissions on Violence against Women in Politics

Globally, women’s political participation has made significant progress over the last 100 years.  For example, over 10,300 women serve as national parliamentarians,  while millions of women actively participate in public and political life as voters, members of political parties, party candidates, elected officials at local and national levels, ministers, and civil servants.  Yet, women remain under-represented at all levels of political decision-making, with only one-quarter of parliamentarians worldwide being female.

An important but under-studied barrier to women’s political participation involves various forms of gender-based violence. A recent Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) study showed that 81.8 percent of women parliamentarians surveyed had experienced some form of psychological violence from members of the public and fellow parliamentarians. Pilot studies by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) show that violence also occurs within political parties, with 44 percent of respondents from surveyed parties indicating it was more likely to be experienced by women and only 4 percent believing it was more likely to target men.  A 2011 IFES/Bardall study on violence against women in elections also found that women and men experience electoral violence differently, with women experiencing more than twice as much psychological abuse/violence than men, in a cross-country study that reviewed 2,000 acts of election violence in 6 countries between 2004-2010.

Violence against women in politics represents a violation of women’s human rights to live free from gender-based violence. In preventing or discouraging women’s political participation, violence against women in politics undermines women’s civil and political rights. Finally, violence against women in politics threatens gender equality and the building of robust and resilient democratic institutions.

The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, will look into the issue of violence against women in politics in her upcoming report to the General Assembly, to be presented in fall 2018.

In this context, she is soliciting inputs and views from States and other stakeholders on the following questions:

  1. Please provide examples of violence against women in politics? These may be acts committed against any category of politically active women (e.g. women candidates, aspirants, elected/appointed officials, public servants…) impeding women’s political participation, on equal terms with men, at all levels of decision-making.
  2. What are the main challenges to addressing violence against women in politics; e.g. impunity of perpetrators, absence of internal complaint procedures (in Parliaments or Local Governments), lack of awareness, inadequate or missing judicial protocol or recourse and/or legal framework, lack of data, etc.? How is this impacted by the different spaces - private, public, online, protected public spaces etc. - where the violence takes place?
  3. What actions could be taken to prevent, address, and/or sanction violence against women in politics and to ensure that women who experience gender-based violence in politics can obtain redress?
  4. What are examples of good practices, legal and policy frameworks for addressing violence against women in politics at international, regional and/or national levels?
  5. In your view, what further measures could be taken to address violence against women in politics, and more generally accelerate gender equality and the political empowerment of women?

Please feel free to respond to one or more questions. All submissions should be sent to vaw@ohchr.org by Friday 1 June. You are kindly requested to provide your submissions in English, French or Spanish, which are the working languages of the Secretariat.
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1/ IPU, Women in National Parliaments, 2016, available at http://ipu.org/wmn-e/world.htm

2/ UN-Women and UNDP, Preventing Violence against Women in Elections: A Programming Guide, 2017, available at http://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2017/11/preventing-violence-against-women-in-elections

3/ IPU, Sexism, harassment and violence against women parliamentarians2016, available at  https://www.ipu.org/news/press-releases/2016-10/ipu-study-reveals-widespread-sexism-harassment-and-violence-against-women-mps

4/ NDI, No Party to Violence: Analyzing Violence against Women in Political Parties, 2018, available at  https://www.ndi.org/publications/no-party-violence-analyzing-violence-against-women-political-parties

5/ International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), Gabrielle Bardall, Breaking the Mold: Understanding Gender and Electoral Violence, 2011, available at  http://www.ifes.org/publications/breaking-mold-understanding-gender-and-electoral-violence