In early 2014 the Tanzanian Centre for Democracy (TCD) – an organization bringing together all political parties to promote multi-party democracy– completed an assessment of local democracy from a gender perspective using International IDEA’s State of Local Democracy (SoLD) assessment framework. Simultaneously, the Association Marocaine de Solidarité et de Développement (AMSED) completed its own local democracy assessment in Morocco.
Both these State of Local Democracy Assessments allowed citizens to identify gender based forms of exclusion from participatory and representative processes, as well as common democratic challenges and advancements in the community. The assessments were initiated in late 2012, and followed by a year of research, citizen consultations and dialogue. Both reports were discussed and validated by representatives from political and civic leaders at national and community level at the end of 2013, with the dissemination of the reports planned to take place by March 2014.
Workshop in Ouarzazate, Morocco. Photo ©: Brechtje Kemp/IDEA
In Morocco, the assessment focused on two regions: Taza El Houceima Taounate and Souss massa Draa. The findings revealed that women experience far more limitations on their ability to run for locally elected office (e.g. due to high costs of elections and societal gender stereotypes), and when elected, are considered to be secondary or less important than their male counterparts. Women were also found to be less engaged in local development processes compared with men, in the context of the overall low levels of public participation in public decision making.
Tanzania national validation workshop. Photo ©: Brechtje Kemp/IDEA
In Tanzania, the assessment was conducted in 8 regions across the mainland and in the western province of Zanzibar. Results pointed to the need to devise more democratic and effective ways of empowering women in locally elected bodies and address gender bias among political parties, which continue to be dominated by patriarchal norms and culture. The aggressive nature of politics, increased cost of electoral campaigns and electoral fraud were all found to disenfranchise women, weakening their voice and opportunities in political processes. As one Tanzanian politician stated during the national validation workshop, organized in November 2013 in Dar es Salaam:
‘If we want to change democracy vis-a-vis gender we have to change our attitudes and practice in our homes, starting today.’
Results and recommendations emanating from the assessments in Morocco and Tanzania are expected to contribute positively to the ongoing constitutional and political reform processes in both countries and foster democratic developments at the local and national level.
Gender-based SoLD assessments in Morocco and Tanzania also helped gather evidence and knowledge on both methodological approaches for mainstreaming gender aspects in citizen-led assessments as well as how assessment frameworks and outcomes can better reflect the different realities and experiences of democracy of women and men.
The assessment teams and the focus group discussions were designed to ensure equal representation of women and men, and gender aspects were integrated in the survey questionnaires, including questions of particular concern to women and men in local communities. These practices have been reflected in the revised State of Local Democracy Framework (2013).