The study was carried out jointly by IHRICON and ESP (Enabling State Programme) to find out the factors affecting women’s political development. The study was also intended to recommend to the Government, all the political parties and the numerous women’s organization as well as other development agencies how to develop further policy, a plan and activities for the empowerment and inclusion of women in leadership development in all levels.
Women’s empowerment and leadership development are integral components for the process of political development. Acquisition of legal and constitutional rights and easy access to the decision-making processes enhances women’s political participation. Politicians, policy-makers, human rights activists, NGOs/INGOs, Government authorities, donor agencies and civil societies through various forums and declarations have addressed these aspects as one of the prioritized issues.
Despite their efforts, the access of women in decision-making processes and their representation through elections has not been encouraging. Women continually face the problems of identity, equity and social justice due to the existence of the stronghold of institutional and socio-cultural barriers. Still male centered ideology is dominant in socio-political systems. Women’s social, political, economic and legal rights are overlooked in policy planning and implementation. At the national level, the commitment for women’s empowerment is not adequate. The concept of this study emerged to find out the causes impeding women’s political participation and leadership development. It also advocates institutionalizing the roles, responsibilities and authority of women at all levels.
The overall objective-of the study was to identify the problems affecting women’s political participation and representation in the whole of the election process. The study was carried out on the basis of the facts collected from the field through discussion, questionnaires and brainstorming exercises. It provided many good opportunities to collect a wide range of information focusing on socio-cultural, political, institutional, gender and, legal and constitutional aspects.
Based on the findings of the study, it was visualized that the women’s political leadership development absolutely relies on the political will and commitments of the time. None of the interventions could bring about changes in the decision-making role of women until and unless male dominated ideologies are fully changed. Political participation of women can’t be insured without raising their self-confidence and the firm commitments of the political parties. Women are both service creator and benefit receiver therefore; they should be placed at the heart of the political activities with the principal of equity, social justice and empowerment.
Major issues and problems highlighted as a result of this study:
Those identified at an Individual level:
- Low education and lack of skills
- Lack of self-confidence and willingness
- Lack of knowledge about roles and responsibilities
- Lack of access to resources and economic activities
Those identified at a Family level:
- Double burden of household and political activities
- Lack of family support
- Lack of opportunities for involvement in decision-making process Less autonomy and higher dependency
- Larger family size and low level of exposure in public affairs
Those identified at a Social level:
- Problems of equity and equality
- Gender discrimination
- Problem of exclusion and .exploitation Lack of social security
Those identified at an Institutional level:
- Weaker political norms and culture within political parties,
- Low commitment of political parties on women’s issues
- Lack of unity and solidarity among women
- Inadequate advocacy, political socialization and party penetration
- Widespread problems of nepotism and favouritism
- Lack of appropriate policy, plan and strategy for women’s leadership development Discriminatory legal system
- Lack of inter-party linkages and coordination
Those identified at a Psychological level:
- Feeling of inferiority and subordination
- Practices of division, domination and suppression
- Problem of Identity and Self-esteem