For the past 83 years, BPW has campaigned for equality for women in power and decision making roles. We have long known that the impact of women, when allowed to participate as equals, is hugely positive at all levels of society. This recent report from Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security (GIWPS) highlights how empowering women and building resilient democracies go hand in hand.
It also shows how women's rights are being undermined in many regions and that there is still very important work for BPW to do.
Here are some excerpts from the recent newsletter published by Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.
Summit for Democracy
This week, President Biden co-hosted the second Summit for Democracy with the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, and the Republic of Zambia. The White House invited 120 global leaders to participate in Summit activities following a Year of Action to build democratic resilience globally.
Around the world, gender equality and women’s right to participate in public life are being undermined by the same forces that are pushing back on democracy. Ahead of this year’s summit, the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) released a new research brief that shows empowering women and building resilient democracies go hand in hand.
We also joined the governments of Sweden and Romania, and International IDEA to co-lead a Cohort on Gender Equality as a Prerequisite for Democracy in the lead-up to the Summit. Read more about our Cohort’s recommendations and side-event below.
GIWPS Research Brief: The Links between Women’s Status and Democracy
Democratic backsliding and backlash against women’s rights are occurring simultaneously, which prompts the question: How, and why, are they connected?
A new GIWPS research brief quantitatively analyzes the link between women’s status—measured by our Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Index—and a country’s level of democracy—measured in terms of election integrity, freedom of association and assembly, and checks on executive power. We find that the status of women is strongly and significantly associated with all three dimensions of democracy. Thus, empowering women can be a key entry point to build democratic resilience. Our findings indicate that countries where women are doing well tend to be countries with fair elections, autonomous civil societies, and independent and accountable government institutions.
Our analysis generates recommendations for how bridging WPS and democracy-building efforts can promote women’s political participation, strengthen democracies, and increase accountability for inclusive governance.
Informing the Summit for Democracy
In advance of the second Summit for Democracy, our Gender Cohort released a Statement of Recommendationsbased on consultations with 100+ stakeholders that provides key actions governments and civil society can take to strengthen democracy by striving toward gender equality.
To inform the Regional Summits hosted on Day 2 of the Summit for Democracy, the Cohort also publishedfive thematic briefs that outline specific steps for integrating gender considerations into democracy work related to youth, media freedom, anti-corruption, free, fair and transparent elections, and information and communication technologies (ICTs).
On the sidelines of the second Summit for Democracy, GIWPS was honored to host Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff at Georgetown on behalf of the Cohort for a discussion on advancing the full and meaningful political leadership of diverse women and girls.
“Democracies cannot succeed without the full and equal participation of all of its citizens including women,” said Second Gentleman Emhoff.
Second Gentleman Emhoff previewed a new commitment of $15 million from USAID to support their Women’s and Girl’s Civic and Political Leadership Initiative in eight pilot countries and a new Network for Gender-Inclusive Democracy: a platform for coordination, data, and learning, and advocacy of the cohort’s recommendations on gender equality. State Department officials discussed three State Department initiatives, SheWins, ShePersists, and SheRemains, which assist women peacebuilders, encourage women’s leadership in democracy, and support marginalized women who participate in politics.
Q&A on GIWPS' Work to Strengthen Democracies
GIWPS Executive Director Ambassador Melanne Verveer and GIWPS Research Director Dr. Jessica Smith reflected on the Institute’s work to advance gender equality and democracy.
“All of us need to accelerate our efforts on this critical issue as much is at stake for the future of democracies and gender equality around the world," said Verveer.
Harassment of Women Political Leaders in Colombia
Juan Diego Duque-Salazar shares chilling figures of sexual harassment against women candidates in Colombia in a new GIWPS blog post. He draws from a recent candidate survey asking about experiences of election violence, including sexual violence, in the 2022 Colombian parliamentary elections. When disaggregated by gender, 33% of female candidates claimed to have been sexually harassed, compared to 8% of male respondents.
These findings suggest that the share of women candidates in Colombia reporting sexual violence is twice as high as in Mexico and five times as high as in the UK. “The fight to eliminate sexual violence against women in politics requires the active engagement of men as agents of change,” writes Duque-Salazar. Duque-Salazar calls on policymakers, the international community, and political parties to adopt formal and clear codes of conduct that to prevent sexual violence against women in politics, increase accountability mechanisms, and transform harmful gender norms.
Read the full blog post here.
Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace & Security seeks to promote a more stable, peaceful, and just world by focusing on the important role women play in preventing conflict and building peace, growing economies, and addressing global threats like climate change and violent extremism. We engage in rigorous research, host global convenings, advance strategic partnerships, and nurture the next generation of leaders. Housed within the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, the Institute is headed by the former U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, Melanne Verveer. For more information, visit https://giwps.georgetown.edu/.