Elections in Chad: The Role of Women in Strengthening Democracy
The Gender Assessment (490KB PDF) in Chad identifies current gaps and potential opportunities in promoting gender and equity considerations for civil society in Chad. It also explores ways in which Counterpart International can better engage with women and promote their participation in democratic processes.
Counterpart is implementing a Promoting Elections, Accountability and Civic Engagement (PEACE) in Chad, a two-year program funded by USAID. The PEACE Program aims to expand citizen participation in democratic processes through peaceful, free and fair elections in Chad. By proactively engaging women in program activities and effectively mainstreaming gender, the PEACE Program seeks to promote greater equality while better achieving its objectives.
Selected Assessment findings:
- Women’s civil society activism is robust and visible. Women’s organizations are able to effectively mobilize their substantial constituencies. Women’s organizations have traditionally conducted service provision and awareness-raising activities. In recent years, the capacity of women’s organizations to conduct advocacy campaigns has improved, but remains nascent.
- Women’s civil society organizations are less politicized than other sectors of civil society; they are seen as neutral and less likely to be aligned with either the government or the opposition.
- Women voters, particularly illiterate rural voters, have not received adequate civic or voter education and risk being unable to exercise their vote in a free and fair manner. The phenomenon of “family voting,” in which a male head of household or village chief instructs women how to vote or in some cases votes for them, has been widespread in previous elections and observers expect it to be a significant issue again next year.
- The greatest limitation on women’s active participation in democratic processes is a lack of education (the female literacy rate in Chad is 20.8 percent). Other limiting factors are a lack of awareness about the law and their rights, poverty, the burdens of household work, and a lack of self-confidence.
- A lack of coordination between women in civil society and women in politics has contributed to the lack of a well-defined women’s agenda and their inability to influence the national political dialogue.
To Women CSOs:
- Work with men – male beneficiaries, male opinion leaders, male elites – to cultivate allies who will be effective change agents.
- Build the confidence of emerging women leaders. Develop training programs that equip women leaders with both technical skills (e.g. budget analysis) and leadership skills (e.g. public speaking).
- Conduct gender budgeting and produce reports on government spending that reveals how women do and don’t benefit.
- Develop incentives for employees and partners to include women in meetings, workshops, and events and to create opportunities for women to lead and offer substantive contributions.
- Ensure that all staff members (not just the Gender Officer) are trained in gender analysis skills so that they can design and implement programs that promote equality and do not entrench existing disparities. This is especially critical for monitoring and evaluation teams.
- Collect and report sex-disaggregated data for all program activities. Insist that partners do the same.
- Fund long-term civic education programs that continue beyond the election cycle and focus on the rights and responsibilities of all citizens (men and women) and the links between elections and democratic governance.
- Evaluate grantees and partners based on their ability to implement gender-sensitive public outreach; make additional funding contingent on this.