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VAWIE Online: How Do Online Threats of Violence Impact Women’s Electoral Participation?  


A report released by the United Nations Broadband Commission found that 73 percent of women online have been exposed to or experienced cyber violence, and only 26 percent of law enforcement agencies of the surveyed countries have taken action against online violence. Women participating in electoral processes often face such harassment and threats. Dealing with and creating accountability for violence online will help send a strong message that all forms of violence against women in elections are unacceptable. However, one of the challenges to research and measurement of online violence against women – and efforts to combat the practice – is documentation. Online violence is rarely recognized as “real” violence, adding to the many obstacles to reporting violence that already exist.


There is a dearth of information and data on this emergent and critical issue to which the democracy and governance community must understand and respond. This project will be an important step in closing the data gap for online violence against women in elections, leading to recommendations for informed strategies to combat it and to empower survivors. Through this project, CEPPS/IFES will:

  • Use sentiment analysis by adapting the Crimson Hexagon software to track VAWIE online during the pre- and post-electoral period, utilizing both historical and up-to- the minute data from several social media sites;
  • Develop search criteria using key words, phrases, and hashtags related to general electoral processes, election violence, violence against women, and women’s participation in the electoral process; and
  • Look at positive and negative statements about women and men in the electoral process and include statements, threats, and information from as many sources as possible, including individuals, institutions, political associations, and civil society.


  • What are the issues related to the language, manifestation, gendered nature, and prevalence of online violence against politically-active women?
  • What are possible remedies and opportunities for action by electoral stakeholders?


The sentiment analysis will produce lessons learned and guidelines for analysis of VAWIE online that will be widely applicable. A final report and recommendations for electoral stakeholders will be constructed as a global tool, to be published and disseminated across different country contexts, USAID, as well as publicly for other relevant practitioners to apply to future electoral contexts. These recommendations will also be incorporated into the broader CEPPS/IFES VAWIE Framework and CEPPS/NDI’s Votes without Violence Toolkit, with tactical recommendations for implementation throughout the electoral cycle and through specific tools, such as CEPPS/IFES and CEPPS/NDI’s monitoring tools.


Violence Against Women in Elections:
A Framework for Assessment, Monitoring, and Response

The Framework represents the culmination of intensive research and fieldwork and is intended to improve the capacity of international and domestic practitioners to understand and reduce VAWIE.

Download the Full PDF Here.

Funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Global EPT Leader Cooperative Agreement No. AID-OAA-L-15-00007.
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