Increasing women participation: role of parties (cont)

We continue looking at the role of political parties in increasing women participation in elections. Last week we looked at the pre-elections period whereby we said it is an opportune time for parties to set the foundation. Among other things parties should be addressing gender equality in their legal framework, holding special conventions for women, putting women in party positions and exposing them.

This week we continue looking at the role of political parties in increasing participation of women in elections as follows:

  • Candidate recruitment and nomination: The process of candidate recruitment and nomination is the most important for political parties to address if women’s political participation is to be promoted. There are many huddles faced by women to make it through the primary elections. If parties can give closer attention to the primary nominations especially in areas where there are women aspirants, it can encourage women to participate on the anticipation of a fairer process. If parties are not conducting primary elections, then whatever means they are using it should be engendered to achieve more women representations.
  • Help in fundraising: Some women have cited lack of funds as one factor hampering their participation in elections. Parties should have means of helping the women fundraise for their campaign activities. Parties can establish fundraising networks, create funds within the party targeted at supporting women candidates and providing subsidies to women candidates especially on production of campaign materials.
  • Discount or waivers on nomination fees: Some parties do set fees for aspirants to participate in primary elections. As one way of encouraging women, parties can put a discount or waive the fees for women. The Commission initiated this approach and parties should support it by following suit.
  • setting party targets and quotas: In Proportional systems whereby they use party lists, this works easily because parties maintain firm control over the nomination of candidates for elected office. Parties adopt policies on quotas for women candidates. All they have to ensure is that women are ranked on winnable positions on the list and not lumped at the end. With the first Past The Post system parties can still come up with quota targets for their candidates, market such policies and set procedures to achieve them. Political parties vary on how they identify candidates; not all are holding primary elections. So whatever means they are using to identify candidates they can consider means of achieving the gender quotas.

These are some of the measures that parties can employ to encourage women to participate in elections. Next week we look at the role of the civil society.