Role of women in increasing their participation in elections

So far we have looked at the roles of the electoral management body, political parties and civil society organizations in promoting women participation in elections as candidates. We conclude this topic by looking at the role of the women themselves in promoting their participation in elections. Among many other issues women should also focus on the following:

  • Willingness and availability to participate: We talked of political parties putting in place positive legislation including quotas just to promote women participation. These cannot be realized if the women to fill the quota are not available. In some instances parties but have gone hunting for women candidates but it has been difficult to get them. So women should in the first place be willing, interested and be available to participate. They should do everything possible to show their intentions. They should not be fearful in coming out in the open, in due time, to express their willingness to context. If they express their willingness others will come in to support them.
  • Advocating for positive laws: Women know very well which laws are working to their disadvantage and which ones need to be changed. This is the time for women to gang up support amongst themselves and advocate for adoption of positive legislation like adoption of gender equity legislation and quotas.
  • Networking and learning: Women should develop networks either as individuals or at party level. Such platforms help in knowledge transfer and development. Women who have made a name in politics should mentor others who are aspiring to join but this cannot happen if there is no network between the two groups. The result has been that those who have entered politics without a mentor they have learnt a hard way. They are denied an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others and avoid them, or to learn from the successes of others and replicate them. There is no need to re-invent the wheel.
  • Capacity building: Through networks women can also build their capacity. They need to build their capacity in public speaking, resource mobilization, developing a manifesto, self marketing and others. People will not just support them for being women, but the substance of their aim will also matter.  
  • Planning: participating in elections needs planning because resources are involved and there is also stiff competition. This is the time for women to start planning on what position they wish to contest, developing a campaign strategy how to face the competition and garner support. As they plan they should not forget to check if they are eligible to contest in the office they are aspiring for.
  • Fundraising and resource mobilisation: contesting in elections requires spending. Women will need to fundraise for their campaign. Multiple strategies are better because they offer a cushion. This is the right time to start approaching sponsors and people of goodwill so that they also have ample time to ponder on supporting them or not.