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Terms Of Reference For The Development Of A PAN AFRICA Model Gendered Electoral Law

Harare (Zimbabwe)

  • Organization: Women and Law in Southern Africa
  • Location: Harare (Zimbabwe)
  • Grade: UG3 - Ungraded
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Civil Society and Local governance
    • Documentation and Information Management
    • Women's Empowerment and Gender Mainstreaming
  • Closing Date: 2021-05-14

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Despite having attained the right to vote and hold office and constituting far more than half the electorate, women in most African countries still continue to be seriously underrepresented as candidates for public office. The traditional working patterns of political parties and government structures continue to be barriers to women’s participation in public life. Women may be discouraged from seeking political office by discriminatory attitudes and practices, family and child-care responsibilities, and the high cost of seeking and holding public office. Women in politics and decision-making positions in Government and legislative bodies contribute to redefining political priorities, placing new items on the political agenda that reflect and address women’s gender-specific concerns, values and experiences, and providing new perspectives on mainstream political issues[1].

 Many African countries boast of robust legal and policy frameworks that are in line with international human rights standards vis-à-vis women’s right to participate in electoral processes as well as decision making on an equal basis with men; what is missing is the implementation. What prevails is formal or juridical equality and non discrimination on paper while substantively women do not enjoy gender equality, equity and/or parity. It could be considered a paradox that although women comprise some 50 per cent on average of the total population of the continent – despite slight variations among countries – they have consistently been under-represented and even outrightly shut out from key institutions and processes of politics and public policy. This experience of women’s exclusion has also been reproduced from generation to generation in other domains such as the economy and critical sectors such as science and technology. There is no shortage of analyses explaining the causes and drivers of the exclusion and/or marginalization of women in public life broadly defined. The factors that underwrite the absence of an equitable basis for women’s political participation comprise an admixture of structural rigidities and conjunctural developments that speak to the way in which power is structured and reproduced in many an African political system. One of the barriers identified in the analysis has been legal obstacles affecting various domains of women’s rights that add up to constrain their ability to participate meaningfully in politics and public life. These underwrite the absence of an equitable basis for women’s political participation which  comprise an admixture of structural rigidities and conjunctural developments that speak to the way in which power is structured and reproduced in many an African political system.

In those African countries that have registered significant progress in the expansion of women’s political participation, and drawing on comparative experience from around the world, are several  key drivers of the success in enhancing women’s political participation which  have included;

a)      A deliberate electoral system design which is structured to enlarge the scope for the inclusion of women in elected positions.

b)      The introduction by governments of legislation to provide for special quotas for women, the youth, people with disability, and historic minorities.

c)       A conducive political environment with mechanism to address political violence

d)      The creation of special funds to finance female candidates contesting political office.

e)      Active adherence by governments to international and regional norms, standards, and protocols on women’s rights and gender parity, and a proactive domestication and application of these

The reform of electoral laws can be a positive step towards achieving equality in the field of politics. Therefore the consortium proposes  the drafting of a gendered Model Electoral Law  meant to assist Member States in domesticating gender equality principles in key;  electoral principles and obligations stipulated in  regional and International Election instruments. This is  aimed at improving the level of women’s participation in electoral and decision making processes so that it is at par with that of men.

Objectives of Assignment :

Task is as follows :

  1. Conduct a comprehensive analysis of situational reports on Women’s Political Participation from various countries and identify the key legislative gaps or barriers that need to be addressed at law in order to improve women’s participation in politics. The deliverable from this first part shall be a discussion paper that  can be used as a lobby document for electoral reforms by women rights organisations . The discussion paper also informs the second part of the assignment 
  2. Utilize the drafting instructions and the discussant paper to develop a Gendered Model Law that seeks to provide model provisions that assist Member States enact laws on elections that aim to;
  1. Assist countries in the domestication and implementation of the principles, guidelines and obligations on democratic elections; gender equality principles  contained in various regional and international documents and instruments on elections, democracy and governance,
  2. The model legislation will serve a useful role as a yardstick for legislative review and may inspire further legislative reform;
  1. Required skills and experience

This assignment is open for Institutions/ teams/  The assignment requires:

Experience: The team should be comprised of individuals with the some or the following expertise :

  • A qualified drafter with at least 10 years of  experience in drafting legislation or policy  in any African country
  • Teams should include individuals /experts with at least seven (7) years relevant professional experience in Law,  political science; Governance , and or Elections 
  • Experience working with Regional and International bodies including Parliament
  • Knowledge and understanding of  political and gender equality context in Africa


  1. Duration of the assignment

The duration of the assignment is 60 days, as from  date of signing contract  .

  1. Competencies

 Core Values:

  • Respect for Diversity;
  • Integrity;
  • Professionalism.

Core Competencies:

  • Awareness and Sensitivity Regarding Gender Issues;
  • Accountability;
  • Creative Problem Solving;
  • Effective Communication;
  • Inclusive Collaboration;
  • Stakeholder Engagement;
  • Leading by Example.
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