International research: Gender norms and women’s exclusion from local governance

Illustration of multicultural female politicians against a dark yellow background
ALiGN & partners, 2024

International research reports to understand how gender norms shape women’s engagement with, influence over, and experiences in local governance institutions and decision-making processes and how they can be transformed.

ALiGN is a flagship digital platform and programme of work of the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion team at the global affairs think tank ODI. ALiGN supported partner organisations in Nigeria, Nepal, Peru and Zimbabwe to conduct research on how norms influence political engagement of women at community, municipal and state levels.

The reports document strategies that maintain power in the hands of the privileged – mostly men – by mobilising harmful norms. Although the norms differ based on power structures in the given context, many are tied to women’s bodies and expectations of sexual and reproductive roles. For example, young women tend to be dismissed as promiscuous and sleeping their way into the roles. Women politicians with children are discredited for not being good mothers or old too old to have anything else to offer. Understanding these norms, and how they are weaponised, is a crucial first step towards addressing gender injustice.

The reports offer recommendations on how norms and structural barriers can be addressed to enhance women’s engagement in politics and ultimately contribute to gender equity and democratic strengthening. The suggested actions range from improved implementation of legal frameworks to awareness-raising campaigns and media training, to community-based programming that targets gender biases about women’s potential to lead as chiefs, councillors, and members of legislatures or executives.


Read more about the reports

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