Breaking the Cycle of Exclusion in Political Party Development

Monday, March 23, 2020

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Political parties are a key institution in democratic practice, yet they face a crisis of representation, with recent research showing that as many as 78 percent of citizens in some countries do not identify with any political party. 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 hypermasculine party cultures. The formation of new political parties during periods of political transition represents a potential opportunity to break these patterns.
Recognizing this, NDI’s Gender, Women and Democracy team and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace conducted research aimed at understanding the factors impacting the degree of gender inclusion in nascent parties formed in periods of political transition. The report “Breaking the Cycle of Gender Exclusion in Political Party Development,” presents groundbreaking research and analysis on the barriers to and opportunities for gender equality in early political party development. 
The study investigated gender inclusion in three case studies, each corresponding to a different pathway of party formation: social movement to party in the case of the Ennahda Party in Tunisia; armed movement to party in the case of the African National Congress in South Africa; and splintering of a dominant party in the case of the Mouvement du Peuple pour le Progrès (MPP) in Burkina Faso. Several cross-cutting findings emerged across the case studies. The research revealed that the organizational origins of the party and the transition context in which parties emerge were key influencers in the degree of gender inclusion in the new party. To change the face of politics and achieve political parity by 2030, it is necessary to break the cycle of exclusion that is hardwired into political party formation from the earliest days.

Breaking the Cycle of Gender Exclusion in Politcal Party Development report cover

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About This Resource

Author: Saskia Brechenmacher and Caroline Hubbard
Publisher: National Democratic Institute and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
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