Women in politics and news media are frequently made the target of attacks, threats, and harassment. These efforts have one goal: to drive women out of the public space. This violence is one of the most serious barriers to inclusive democracies and institutions, directly impacting women’s ability to participate in these sectors.
This issue has only worsened with the systemic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which incidents of sexual and gender-based violence in both public and private spaces have increased. COVID-19 has also resulted in a shrinking political space, as governments move from consultative leadership to a ‘control and command’ position, constraining women’s autonomy and their engagement in public decision-making. These issues are of global concern, and have serious repercussions for democratic societies.
To address these challenges, the IWMF and the National Democratic Institute are launching a program that brings together women in politics and women in the media to combat violence against women in both of these sectors. The program will continue to be run in three countries – Mexico, Kenya, and Sri Lanka – to increase women’s safety both in person and online. In addition, the program will expand to two new countries – Liberia and Guatemala. Participants will build coalitions and advocacy strategies addressing the negative impact on democracy caused by exclusionary media and political environments, and by violence against women who are active in politics and in the media.
[Through the program] I got to meet other women journalists and I am glad I was able to talk about my experience in the safe space you created. The program not only validated my feelings, but also gave me tools on how to deal with the confusion and resentment I was feeling.
I was also able to build confidence. Doing the many exercises in the curriculum reinforced the idea that as a woman in media, I was enough. I needed that. – Mercy A., Kenya