Across the globe, there has been a substantial increase in gender equality in political life. Women have more than doubled their presence in national parliaments from 1995 (11.3 %) to 2018 (23.4%) (Inter-Parliamentary Union). However, there are indications that women’s political gains may have come at a high cost. Practitioner organizations as well as academics seek to raise awareness about physical attacks, intimidation, and harassment aimed at women politicians. This project aims to better understand how gender shapes the scope, form, and consequences of political violence targeted at politicians, and to develop strategies to reduce the problem.


There is a lack of systematic analyses that compare men’s and women’s experiences. Because of this, we do not yet know if the cost of doing politics is higher (or different) for women than for men, or if violence against women, as relative newcomers to the political sphere, draws increased attention to the cost of politics for all political actors. Violence against political actors has the potential to undermine democratic practices and deny both men and women their civil and political rights to engage in decision-making. If women cannot access, participate in, and influence politics on the same terms as men, then these hurdles require particular attention in order to ensure political equality in political processes. Studies of violence traditionally deal with men’s experiences. If violence deters or limits women’s political participation we must rethink our methods and question conventional knowledge in order to fully understand this.


In this research project, an international research team will provide a comprehensive, multi-method examination of if and how gender shapes political violence targeting politicians in carefully selected countries in two regions (Africa and Europe).