Despite comprising more than 50 percent of the world’s population, women continue to lack access to political leadership opportunities and resources at all levels of government. Women’s equal participation in decision-making is not only a demand for simple justice or democracy, but a necessary pre-condition for women’s interests to be taken into account. Governance structures which do not result in the equal participation of men and women, or their equal enjoyment of benefits from state interventions are by definition neither inclusive nor democratic.
In 2007, recognizing that over the last century women’s gains in the political arena have been slow and inadequate, five international organizations came together to make women’s political participation their collective priority and devise a strategy that would scale-up each of the organization’s efforts to foster gender equality in politics: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) National Democratic Institute (NDI) United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) The International Knowledge Network of Women in Politics (www.iKNOWPolitics.org) is an online network, jointly supported by the five partner organizations, that aims to increase the participation and effectiveness of women in political life by utilizing a technology-enabled forum to provide access to critical resources and expertise, stimulate dialogue, create knowledge, and share experiences among women in politics. In just three years, iKNOW Politics has become the leading website on women’s political participation.
Building on a library of over 5300 resources, iKNOW Politics has captured the combined experience and knowledge of its 92 global experts and close to 10,000 members from over 150 countries. iKNOW Politics has documented and disseminated the lessons and best practices of women as voters, candidates and elected legislators. The following is a printed version of one of the most frequently-cited iKNOW Politics knowledge products, based on the combined input from experts and members worldwide. Please visit the iKNOW Politics website to pose a question of your own, contribute to the online discussions, browse the resource library or read additional iKNOW Politics consolidated expert responses, E-discussion summaries, interviews with women leaders, or contact iKNOW Politics at firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch with a staff member in your region of the world. iKNOW Politics is available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.