What we did:We organized political dialogues on violence against women in politics with strategic actors in Paraguay

What we achieved: We supported the process of protecting women in politics in Paraguay by assisting public interest groups to engage with representative institutions in a democratic and effective way. Members of parliament have also been supported in exercising their legislative and representation functions more effectively.

Who we did it with: Equity and Gender Commission of the Senate, The Inter-American Commission of Women (La Comisión Interamericana de Mujeres in Spanish) of the Organization of American States (OAS), Democratic Parity Group (civil society)

Impact area: Political Participation and Representation

Donor: European Union

Project: Consolidation of Paraguayan Democracy II, 2019–2023 

Boundary partners: Public interest groups and members of parliament

 

The banner held by Paraguayan protesters said it all: ‘Political Violence is Real. Women Politicians Deserve Equal Respect’.

Defamation, threats, physical aggression and even assassination attempts are part of Paraguay’s political life, significantly focused on women candidates. The 2021 municipal elections were no exception.

International IDEA worked during the year to combat such violence by engaging with politicians, civil society groups and strategic international actors to get the issue high on the public agenda.

A key element of this was the technical assistance provided for a bill—presented to parliament on 22 April 2021 by seven of Paraguay’s eight female senators—‘to prevent, punish and eradicate gender-based violence against women in politics’.

The bill was approved in general by the Senate on 29 July but is yet to be fully passed into law.

International IDEA carried out a broad programme of publicity and engagement to support the bill, including with the Electoral Mission of OAS, which included the topic in its mission report, expressed its concern about political violence, and recommended approval of the legislation.

The debate over political violence against women spread throughout the year, garnering visible support among women in politics and civil society organizations in both the capital and the countryside.

This was manifest by the numerous support messages sent to the Senate when the bill was being debated, and by the various rallies held on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November. 

International IDEA has demonstrated strategic leadership by coordinating joint action by public interest groups, and the capacity to successfully leverage the international human rights drive with local action to promote de facto equality between men and women in politics. 

Although the bill is yet to be passed into law—and the local elections in October were clearly marred by violence—the grassroots support achieved ensures that the violence issue will remain a part of the public agenda for the foreseeable future.