What We Do
GENDER, ELECTIONS AND DEMOCRACY
The three building blocks of gender equality in elections and democracy are 1) engaged and informed citizens;
2) gender-sensitive institutions; and 3) empowered women leaders.
Herizon Democracy offers support at each step along the way.
Gender-sensitive institutions. Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) are the curators of democratic processes. Their technical decisions and administrative choices have far-reaching impacts on political gender equality. Herizon Democracy works regularly with EMBs on different aspects of inclusion including:
Institutional gender audits
Strategic planning (internal and external)
Staff training and capacity building
Gender-sensitive electoral security planning
Gender-sensitive electoral budgeting
Herizon Democracy also provides support to other institutions including parliamentary bodies, local government and local government associations (LGAs), police, ombudsperson offices and electoral justice actors to overcome challenges from embedded sexism to gender-inclusive workplaces to targeted service provision.
Empowered women leaders. In gender inclusive democracies, women and men are equally present in the positions of power that guide governance and design public policy that responds to the needs of all citizens. Herizon Democracy is experienced in promoting women’s leadership, from elected officials to public officers and the private sector.
Engaged and informed citizens. From strengthening women’s networks, unions and movements to designing targeted and inclusive civic and voter education campaigns, women’s political empowerment is grounded in active and educated citizenry.
Interested in learning more about our work on gender, elections and democracy?
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN POLITICS
Violence against women in politics (VAWP) exists at the crossroads of political violence and gender-based violence (GBV), targeting women who participate in public or political life, either specifically because they are women, or in distinctly gendered ways. It is one of the greatest threats to political gender equality in the world today.
Over the past decade, Herizon Democracy principal Gabrielle Bardall’s research has pioneered the field of VAWP. She is recognized as a global authority on the topic, including in addressing online VAWP through artificial intelligence and human-interface solutions.
Herizon Democracy recognizes that VAWP is
… a critical form of gender-based violence (GBV)
… an electoral security risk
… a threat to democracy and freedom
… a key form of online harassment and violation of internet freedoms
… an impediment to economic growth associated with greater women’s political participation
… a major challenge to the objectives of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda
We design solutions accordingly. Herizon Democracy can provide support in:
Identifying and tailoring solutions: community-based monitoring, early warning, advocacy, electoral management & candidate training, security sector planning and response, journalist orientations, working with tech start-ups
Researching and documenting offline VAWP: cross-national, sub-national & country-level studies, mixed methods (quantitative, qualitative, survey based), conflict analysis
Researching and documenting online VAWP: mapping online risks, threat analysis, documentation through social media analytics and AI-based assessment
Legal framework analysis: Identifying gaps and opportunities for legal reform
Interested in learning more about our work on violence against women in politics?
DISINFORMATION, SOCIAL MEDIA ANALYTICS AND CYBER HYGIENE
Fake news and disinformation are notorious threats to both established and emerging democracies. Yet, the deep gender dimensions of malign influence campaigns are often overlooked. Undermining gender equality and promoting sexism through disinformation is an effective tool for autocrats: it builds social intolerance, fear of change and the sense of insecurity that autocracy thrives on. Assaults on women’s rights and promoting all forms of intolerance (including homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, racism and the like) pave the way for further autocratization.
Herizon Democracy recognizes the many ways in which autocrats leverage feminist ideology for self-preservation and expansion. We understand how online disinformation campaigns, abuse and harassment of political women and their allies is a threat to democracy at large. We help our clients strengthen their responses to disinformation through tailored social media analytics programs and cyber-hygiene programs geared towards the needs of women leaders in developing contexts. We analyze how gender is leveraged and expressed in various disinformation contexts and building solutions for greater resilience.
Interested in learning more about our work on gendered disinformation?
GENDER AND POLITICAL FINANCE
Campaign finance rules and practices have a profound impact on political gender equality. When they are designed with the principles of inclusion in mind, political finance regimes can rocket gender equality forward and level the playing field for all. Yet most political finance frameworks in the world today create division, exclusion and unequal barriers to participation for women.
Herizon Democracy provides assistance in analyzing gendered barriers in political campaign finance rules and practices. We identify opportunities for political finance reform to level the playing field and provide training to stakeholders to help them understand the gender dimensions of political finance.
Interested in learning more about our work on gender and political finance?
WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY
The Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda does not end when conflict actors stand up from the peace negotiation table and shake hands. The principles and goals of WPS extend through democratic transitions. Although WPS responses often focus on women’s participation in peace negotiations and political processes during conflict and in the immediate aftermath of conflict, their active and secure participation through democratic transition and consolidation is equally critical.
Indeed, as the memory and international scrutiny of conflict fades, men often reassert control over democratic institutions, re-instituting the policies and practices that triggered conflict in the first place. Conflict transformation and enduring peace require inclusive, participatory political space. Such a space cannot exist without women’s ability to enter, contribute to, and help shape it.
Herizon Democracy helps its clients engage with the WPS Agenda through gender-inclusive programming during post-conflict democratization. Our strategy recognizes the key role women play as peacemakers at both national and local levels as well as the distinct risks and threats they face when performing these essential functions. This includes designing gender-sensitive electoral security plans and supporting women’s peace building initiatives.
GENDER QUOTAS AND ELECTORAL SYSTEM DESIGN
Temporary special measures (TSMs, often referred to as “gender quotas”) have been the most influential policy mechanism for advancing gender equality in legislatures worldwide in the past two decades. However, quotas only succeed in reaching their stated goals when they are designed appropriately and harmonized with electoral systems. Even when they do succeed in reaching their numeric targets, their ability to insert women’s voices into substantive policy dialogue and transform norms around women’s participation is deeply affected by the way TSM laws are designed and written.
Herizon Democracy principal Gabrielle Bardall has analyzed, trained, published and advised on the technical design of gender quotas in over two dozen countries. She is experienced in working on challenging contexts (such as TSM in majority/plurality systems) and in analyzing the substantive impact of quota design on women’s empowerment “beyond the numbers”.