Breaking the Cycle of Gender Exclusion in Political Party Development

Saskia Brechenmacher, Caroline Hubbard
Content Type
Working Paper
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Political parties around the world face a crisis in public confidence. Many citizens view them as inaccessible and unresponsive to their concerns. Parties pose specific challenges for women, who face both formal and informal barriers to participation, including opaque nomination procedures, violence, and parties with hypermasculine cultures. The formation of new parties during periods of political transition represents a potential opportunity to break these patterns. Transitions can be openings to transform the broader political, legal, and social barriers to an inclusive kind of politics. In these moments of flux, the development of new party branches and rules, as well as the renegotiation of broader institutional frameworks, can enable women and other marginalized groups to push for greater political representation within party structures. What factors influence the level of gender inclusion in processes of party development? This question is central for policymakers, advocates, and practitioners seeking to support inclusive democracy and gender equality in transitional societies and beyond. To shed light on this topic, this study investigates gender inclusion in three types of party formation that commonly unfold during political transitions: a social movement to a party (as exemplified by Ennahda in Tunisia); an armed movement to a party (as illustrated by the African National Congress [ANC] in South Africa); and a dominant party to a breakaway party (as shown by the Mouvement du Peuple pour le Progr├Ęs [MPP] in Burkina Faso).
Gender Issues, Women, Inequality, Political Parties
Political Geography
Africa, South Africa, North Africa, Tunisia, Burkina Faso