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e-Discussion on Gender Norms in Politics

27 November 2023 - 18 December 2023
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Gender Norms in Politics

To this day, decision-making remains widely dominated by men as they make up 64% of elected local officials, 73% of parliamentarians, 77% of cabinet ministers, and about 90% of heads of government and heads of state.[1] It is estimated that at the current pace, it will take another 162 years to close the gender gap in political empowerment.

By virtue of their gender, men tend to enjoy privileges that are unavailable to women at home and work, in their communities, and in institutions. Their privileged and dominant positioning in society and decision-making places makes an impact on, for example, the way laws and policies have been designed and implemented. Male-dominated decision-making limits access to opportunities and leadership for women. Such an unequal distribution of power not only hinders women’s well-being but also humanity’s development overall. In fact, a recent study found that, on average, women are empowered to achieve just 60% of their potential.

The road to gender equality remains long and full of roadblocks, such as violence and lower access to health, education, and paid work. Women and girls continue to be subject to harmful gender norms, that are social constructs and integral to the reproduction of unequal power relations in all spheres of life, resulting in tangible consequences. For example, nine out of ten people hold biases against women and half of them believe that men are better political leaders than women.

The rise of global crises, from wars to pandemics and climate change, impact women’s lives disproportionally, burdening them further, and stalling progress towards gender equality even more. Humanity is at a critical crossroads. To build a peaceful, democratic, and sustainable future, it has no choice but to change social norms to empower women and girls in all their diversity and reach equality for all.


This e-Discussion organized by iKOW Politics seeks to raise awareness and collect experiences and knowledge on gender norms change and their impact on women’s political empowerment, participation, and leadership in politics and public life. It also seeks to gather good practices and recommendations on ways to shift gender norms to end the cycle of discrimination and achieve gender equality in politics and public life.

Women and men in politics, civil society activists, practitioners and researchers are invited to join this e-Discussion from 27 November to 18 December 2023 by answering the below questions. The submissions will contribute to a report that will augment the knowledge base available on the topic.    


  1. In your opinion and based on your experience, how can gender norms change? How can their change impact women’s participation and leadership in politics and public life? Please share examples.
  2. What can lawmakers, governments, and civil society do to contribute to gender norms change? Please share examples.
  3. In your opinion, how have gender quotas impacted gender norms change and perceptions of women leaders?     

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Send your contribution to or post it directly here.

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iKNOW Politics
iKNOW Politics

iKNOW Politics is a joint project of International IDEA, the Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

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