“SheVotes” Toolkit Helps Break Down Barriers to Women’s Political Participation
The Women’s Democracy Network is built on the principle that a robust democracy depends on the equal participation of women. As the late U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane J. Kirkpatrick once said, “Democracy not only requires equality but also an unshakable conviction in the value of each person, who is then equal.”
IRI has created the “She Votes” toolkit with the goal of enhancing women’s political participation by providing a framework to identify barriers to entry as well as opportunities for engagement. This information is instrumental in designing the interventions necessary to increase women’s political participation and leadership, and serves as the foundation for WDN’s programming.
IRI utilized our extensive experience conducting gender assessments around the world to craft a framework focused around identifying obstacles at the individual, governmental, and societal level. In the course of our research, we have found that individual barriers impede women’s self-efficacy and empowerment; government barriers such as legislative and regulatory provisions undermine participation (both by omission and commission); and societal barriers such as patriarchal or misogynistic attitudes exclude women from participating fully in the public sphere. These barriers can exist in isolation or be mutually constitutive and reinforcing.
By assessing women’s participation in elections as voters and candidates, “SheVotes” will provide practitioners with the data needed to address these deficiencies and empower women around the world. When given the opportunity to make their voices heard, women are changing our communities and our countries for the better—one vote at a time.