NDI Launches Groundbreaking Report Uncovering Online Violence Against Women in Politics

Monday, June 17, 2019

Washington, DC - The National Democratic Institute (NDI) has released its latest case study report titled, Tweets that Chill: Analyzing Online Violence Against Women in Politics. The report, which focuses on online violence against college-aged women in politics (VAW-P), exposes their response to the growth in  activity aimed to silence or exclude them from online political conversations in Indonesia, Colombia and Kenya.

In the three case study countries, NDI worked with women in politics, those in  civic technology and women’s rights organizations to examine the country specific challenges facing women as they engage in online political discourse. The outcomes of the case studies confirmed that across the three countries women engaging in politics online experienced similar types of violence including insults and hate speech, embarrassment and reputational risk, physical threats, and sexualized misrepresentation.  While the report represents the right step forward in eliminating barriers to political participation for women, it also highlights the need for additional research to understand and mitigate the impact of online violence.

Commenting on the significance of the report, NDI’s President, Derek Mitchell explained: “NDI has been a leader in supporting women around the world to overcome barriers to their political participation. Far too often, violence against women in politics, in all its manifestations, creates a ‘chilling effect’ that drives politically-active women offline and in some cases out of the political realm entirely.”

Key lessons learned from the research include the need to: work with local organizations to develop context and linguistic specific lexicons; provide more attention to minority community and intersecting identities; make women’s rights initiatives actionable and solution oriented; and prevent under-reporting of online violence against women.

NDI’s Director for Gender, Women and Democracy, Sandra Pepera said: “It’s a shame that we’ve allowed the online space which has so much potential to foster inclusion, participation and transparency - all important elements of democracy - to become this anti-democratic place that is so toxic to politically-active women.”

The report was prepared by a team at the National Democratic Institute, working with Dr. Derek Ruths of Charitable Analytics International, as the program’s technical lead.

To read the full report click here.

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