Women’s political participation

Women’s political participation

Our Goals

There is overwhelming evidence that women’s participation in politics is beneficial to both their own communities and societies, and broader peace and stability. But despite the existence of a number of international conventions and legal frameworks guaranteeing women’s political rights, we remain far from the goal of gender parity.

This needs to change. The inclusion of women in political processes is a key element in achieving a truly inclusive democracy, and women must have the chance to exercise their political rights and participate in all political decision-making.

At NIMD, we are committed to ensuring that women from across society have equal opportunity to access political structures and positions of influence. We strive to include women from different backgrounds and from under-represented groups in our programming. This means actively reaching out to women from under-represented groups including indigenous women and LGBTQI+ communities and ensuring that women from all age groups and demographics are represented in our programming.

Our work goes beyond simply ensuring women have a seat at the table: it is about understanding the fundamental human right of women to participate, and incorporating their perspective at every stage of the planning and implementation of NIMD programmes. It is about working on the underlying political culture, and ensuring that gender inclusivity initiatives go beyond tokenistic gestures and genuinely addresses the underlying causes of exclusion.

Download our steps to more inclusive political parties.

Across our network, our offices and partners are working on a range of innovative approaches to further the political participation of women.

Underpinning all our gender inclusivity work are a set of goals, and at NIMD, we commit to:

  • Ensure that all our approaches and solutions are rooted in an in-depth understanding and analysis of the culture and context of specific countries and regions
  • Include women from across all sectors of society, reaching beyond the large urban areas and into the communities where women that have traditionally struggled to make their voices heard
  • Bring together women from across political, religious, ethnic and cultural lines to build the cross-party networks needed to work together for the common good of all women in the country
  • Invest in training the next generation of female and male leaders, by working towards gender parity in all our democracy education programmes
  • Foster global recognition of the disproportionate effect of wartime violence on women, and promote the vital role of women in peace-building and reconciliation
  • Bring about meaningful systematic change, so that the results of dialogues and consultations go beyond proposals and recommendations and are embedded into democratic structures
  • Include a gender perspective in the design, monitoring and evaluation of each of our country programmes, so that we can learn from past experiences and shape future programmes based on expertise and analysis

Our Approach

To achieve our goals on women’s participation, we work with political and civil society actors to foster an open political culture.

We work with political parties on their internal party regulations and on national legislation, and ensure that political actors address the unwritten rules and practices that exclude women from participating.

We also bring politicians, government officials, civil society representatives, and women’s rights activists together to inspire and stimulate learning and action.

Our unique multi-level approach aims to encourage change at every level of the political landscape, through three key interventions:

  • Changing the rules of the game
    Politicians must understand and challenge the mechanisms, practices and stereotypes that perpetuate inequalities between men and women in the political arena. Dialogue is central to this process, and NIMD helps establish dialogue platforms between parties and encourages them to exchange best practice and cooperate on gender issues. We also provide technical assistance and lobby for legislative and policy changes ensuring equal rights and equal participation.
  • Bringing all players to the policy-making table
    We empower women to become active participants at the policymaking table, by promoting equal rights and opportunities for women in political parties and social change movements. This includes empowering female candidates during elections, mentoring and coaching, and providing training in political skills, media engagement, networking and political campaigning.
  • Stimulating an inclusive culture
    Promoting new laws and legislation on gender equality is key, but equally important is building a democratic culture in which the rights of women are protected. NIMD builds the capacity of political parties to encourage awareness of their own rules and barriers, and analyse citizens’ interests and needs. We raise awareness of gender stereotypes through dialogue, research, media campaigns, and audio-visual products.

Working with partners around the world and sharing knowledge and experience is also crucial in achieving our goals.

NIMD is a proud member of the LEAP4Peace Consortium, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which supports women in Myanmar, Colombia and Burundi so they can play a meaningful role in political leadership, conflict resolution, and peace building.


NIMD is also a signatory to the Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action Compact, an inclusive global movement calling for the redesign of peace and security and humanitarian processes to systematically and meaningfully include women and girls.

Our Executive Director, Thijs Berman, also joined the International Gender Champions (IGC) network, reflecting NIMD’s ongoing commitment to empowering women and supporting their participation in politics around the world. His 2024 Gender Commitments are:

  • I commit to cultivate a positive and supportive organizational culture among all staff where gender equality and empowerment of women are measurable and embedded in all decision-making and programming processes. For this, I will include in the staff satisfaction survey questions about the work environment from a gender lens and will include a focus on gender equality in our capacity strengthening efforts with our country offices.

Practical Examples

Training women in local administration

NIMD Jordan partnered with the International Republican Institute (IRI) to launch a training programme for women in local administration. It targeted women who wanted to run in local elections, equipping them with the skills, knowledge and networks to work towards achieving their political ambition. Read More.

The role of women in conflict resolution and beyond

Understanding the barriers to the participation of women in politics is a key step in overcoming those issues. As part of the LEAP4Peace Consortium, we collaborated on the report Women, Peace and Security: Pillars of Peace, which examines the role of women in conflict resolution and reconciliation. Read More.

Meet the Team

Floortje Klijn
Programme & Knowledge Advisor

Floortje Klijn is NIMD's lead thematic advisor on Women's Political Participation. With over two decades of experience in international cooperation, working on a variety of themes in Africa, South-Asia and the MENA region. Her commitment to good governance and peace building has stood central into her numerous work experiences around the world.


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