The CEPPS Newsletter

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Young women at polling station


CEPPS recognizes that democracy and inclusion are indivisible. It is only when all people – including women, people with disabilities, young people, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) individuals, Indigenous Peoples, and ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities, – have equitable opportunities to meaningfully participate in the political life of their societies, that democracy can flourish.

However, in countries around the globe, large portions of the population are restricted or excluded from political participation because of persistent identity-based discrimination, thereby weakening democracy’s long-term prospects. When considered as a whole, marginalized groups constitute a significant portion of any population. As such, their full and active participation is essential to the success of any democracy and governance strengthening efforts.

Inclusive democracy, human rights and governance (DRG) interventions are more successful in efforts to promote participatory, representative political processes and government institutions, foster governments’ accountability to citizens, and promote and protect universally recognized human rights. CEPPS’ experience has demonstrated that increased participation in political processes by traditionally marginalized groups results in concrete democratic gains, including greater responsiveness to citizens’ needs, economic progress, increased cooperation across party and ethnic lines, more sustainable peace and security, and more resilient democracies.

To these ends, CEPPS supports members of marginalized communities to more effectively advocate for their rights, identify context-specific ways to work to dismantle systems of discrimination, and use political organizing and collective action to increase their visibility, raise public awareness, and build the power required to influence political processes and outcomes.

CEPPS employs an inclusive development approach that guides the integration of gender equality, women’s and girls’ empowerment, and inclusion of historically marginalized populations into our programming.  This approach helps ensure that CEPPS interventions acknowledge and address systemic inequities and discriminatory norms, identify both formal and informal barriers to participation and take steps to mitigate and ultimately eliminate these obstacles.

A group of youth from the Tanzania Bora Initiative.

CEPPS recognizes that inequalities are not the result of single, distinct factors. Rather, they are the outcome of the intersections of different social locations (including race, ethnicity, gender identity, geography, age, disability, religion, and sexual orientation) and experiences within a context of interconnected systems and power structures (including laws, policies, governments and other political and economic unions, religious institutions, and media). These inequalities are the result of interconnected and unequal power dynamics and social systems that afford power to some individuals and groups more than others and result in different amounts of power and privilege both between and within identity groups.

Therefore, CEPPS approaches inclusive programming from an intersectional lens, understanding that experiences of inequality, discrimination, marginalization, and exclusion from political processes and civic life are compounded for people with multiple marginalized identities. By designing interventions that consider the unique ways in which people’s different identities impact their individual experiences, CEPPS strives to address overlapping identity-based marginalization to ensure equitable access and participation in our programming and to expand political and social inclusion where we work. This intersectional approach also informs the consistent application of ‘do no harm’ principles into all CEPPS programs to minimize the chances of unintentional harm to marginalized groups as a result of our programming.

By addressing the institutional, socio-cultural, and individual barriers that constrain the full participation of members of traditionally marginalized communities and through designing policies that are reflective of and responsive to the diverse needs and experiences of all people, CEPPS works to enhance the capacity of democratic actors to ensure that democracies deliver on their promises. Strengthening the inclusive nature of representative institutions to foster the participation of marginalized groups is necessary to ensure responsive, representative, and accountable socio-political structures in which all individuals, regardless of their identity, may meaningfully exercise their rights as civic and political actors.

Learn more about the CEPPS inclusive monitoring, evaluation, and learning (IMEL) approach.

Women & Gender Equality

CEPPS works to strengthen democracies and support the uptake of democratic values and processes with programming that seeks to transform discriminatory gender norms and institutions while promoting women’s rights and gender equality, as well as the full and meaningful participation of women, and gender diverse individuals in all aspects of public life.  CEPPS recognizes that women only achieve full civic and political inclusion when the patriarchal, discriminatory gender norms that constrain women’s participation at the socio-cultural, institutional, and individual levels are eliminated. CEPPS integrates the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment into our programming to support and strengthen democratic values, culture, and practices around the globe. By conducting inclusive gender analyses to determine the different ways in which norms and inequalities influence access to and control over resources and decision-making CEPPS ensures that our programming is gender-sensitive and responsive to diverse individuals’ unique lived realities and the different needs and experiences of women, girls, men, boys, and gender diverse individuals.

Women and girls make up more than half of the world’s population, yet globally their civic and political participation and presence in public life continue to be constrained.  When democracies fail to ensure the rights and participation of all members of society, and leaders fail to reflect the views and experiences of a diversity of constituents, those democracies are weakened and lose legitimacy.

For more information:


CEPPS Resources

Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Early Warning of Violence and Conflict: A Global Framework
This global framework addresses gaps and builds on existing efforts to mainstream gender in conflict early warning systems. This approach provides early warning indicators, as well as a five-step approach to integrating these factors into existing warning systems and violence monitoring efforts. (CEPPS/IFES)

Gender Equality & Election Management Bodies: A Best Practices Guide
This guide provides election management bodies with a resource to develop an integrated approach to gender in electoral administration. (CEPPS/IFES)

Violence Against Women in Elections Framework: A Framework for Assessment, Monitoring, and Response
In an effort to better understand and address the ways in which electoral violence creates a barrier to women’s participation, IFES has developed the Violence Against Women in Elections Framework to specifically identify and address the unique issues related to gender-based election violence. (CEPPS/IFES)

Allies for Equality 
IFES’s Allies for Equality program works with men and males to create an enabling environment for women’s equal and meaningful participation in politics and can be tailored for any group where a conversation about power and privilege could lead to meaningful change. (CEPPS/IFES)

Gender-Responsive Policymaking Handbook 
This user-friendly toolkit and accompanying handbook enable government officials and civil society actors to promote policy solutions that effectively address the needs of women and girls in their communities. (CEPPS/IRI)

She Votes Toolkit
The She Votes toolkit provides a framework to identify both barriers and opportunities for women’s participation in elections. (CEPPS/IRI)

Men, Power and Politics
Men, Power and Politics (MPP) is an initiative to change politics by engaging male political leaders as transformative agents of change for gender equality. Guidance for implementing MPP programs exist for both in-person and online learning. (CEPPS/NDI)

Win With Women: Building Inclusive 21st Century Parties
Win With Women: Building Inclusive 21st Century Parties is an initiative designed to help political parties become more inclusive and representative through a suite of tools that assess women’s participation in political parties, violence against women within political parties, and targets inclusive early party development. (CEPPS/NDI)

think10 is a safety tool for individual women entering politics.  The application prompts women to review their personal and professional vulnerabilities in public and empowers them to take informed steps which would enhance their safety. The tool consists of a self-assessment questionnaire, and a country’s risk calculation taken from NDI’s Women’s Political Participation Risk Index (WPPRI), which assesses the risk of being politically active in 172 countries. (CEPPS/NDI)

Additional CEPPS Resources
Lebanese Advocate for Intersectional Rights  
Nineteen civil society organizations in Lebanon representing the rights of women, refugees, youth, persons with disabilities, and the LGBTQI+ community came together to submit a joint intersectional report to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review that considered human rights violations regarding access to and education about sexual and reproductive health. (CEPPS/IFES) 
Inclusive Data Collection Guidance
This resource outlines one partner’s inclusive MEL approach and specific practices to ensure marginalized groups are included in projects’ MEL efforts in a secure, equitable and inclusive manner. (CEPPS/IRI) 
Engaging Marginalized Youth in Laos  
To inform IRI’s targeted effort to empower marginalized community voices, IRI has developed a barrier analysis methodology to determine the barriers marginalized communities face to fully realizing their civil rights. In the pilot of this methodology, IRI specifically chose to investigate the experiences of multiply marginalized Lao youth who are from the LGBTQI+ community, women, or ethnic minorities. (CEPPS/IRI)