Violence Against Women in Politics: A Barrier to Peace and Security

A policy brief co-authored by International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) Senior Gender Specialist Dr. Gabrielle Bardall and Alliance for Peacebuilding Research Associate Emily Myers was featured in the 2018 U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security Policy Brief Series. Read the full publication here.

On May 15, the U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) launched a policy brief arguing for extending interpretation of the WPS agenda to include post-conflict democratization processes. The assertion is that women’s leadership in conflict prevention, management, and resolution and in post-conflict relief and recovery efforts does not end with the signing of a peace treaty: democratization processes are equally vital for achieving the WPS objectives. The recommendation comes on the heels of the passage of WPS legislation into U.S. law in late 2017.

In particular, the policy brief focuses on what Bardall terms “the neglected dimension of WPS” – the problem of violence against women in politics (VAWP). Bardall and Meyers assert that violence against women in politics is integrally connected to the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda because it inhibits women from participating in democratic transitions and consolidation. The lack of women’s participation in democratic institutions undermines electoral integrity, and undercuts sustainable democracy and lasting peace.

While international actors, including the U.S., increasingly recognize VAWP as a serious impediment to women’s political participation, U.S. lawmakers have yet to formally recognize the issue or respond with effective and consistent policy. Bardall and Meyers offer options for filling this gap including to integrate the issue across U.S. strategic, diplomatic and policy tools and frameworks, examine standalone legislative tools, document and monitor the impact of VAWP and ensure adequate resources for effectively addressing the issue.