The Cost of Doing Politics? Analysing Violence and Harassment against Female Politicians

The Cost of Doing Politics? Analysing Violence and Harassment against Female Politicians

Women are entering politics in record numbers around the world, pointing to significant progress in the recognition of women as full and equal actors in the political realm. Yet recent years have also witnessed a troubling rise in reports of assault, intimidation, and abuse directed at female politicians. Despite emerging global attention, conceptual ambiguities remain as to the exact contours of this phenomenon. To make the concept more theoretically, empirically, and methodologically robust, this paper draws on literatures in multiple academic disciplines; a large collection of global new items and practitioner reports; and original interviews conducted in Latin America, North Africa, Western Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa between 2014 and 2018. It proposes that this phenomenon is distinguished by the presence of bias and hatred against women in political roles – originating in structural violence, being carried out through cultural violence, and resulting in symbolic violence against women. It then maps empirical manifestations, theorizing five overlapping types of violence: physical, psychological, sexual, economic, and semiotic. Addressing methodological challenges, the paper proposes a contextual approach for identifying and analyzing cases of violence against women in politics, inspired by work on hate crimes. It then applies this framework to analyze three cases: the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, and the murder of Jo Cox. The paper concludes with the negative implications of violence against women in politics and surveys emerging solutions around the globe.

About the presenter:

Mona Lena Krook is Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Women and Politics Ph.D. Program at Rutgers University (USA). She has published widely on gender quotas and women’s political representation in global perspective. Her first book, Quotas for Women in Politics: Gender and Candidate Selection Worldwide (Oxford University Press, 2009), received the American Political Science Association’s Victoria Schuck Award for the Best Book on Women and Politics in 2010. Her current work focuses on violence and harassment against politically active women. Since 2015, she has collaborated with the National Democratic Institute on its #NotTheCost campaign to stop violence against women in politics. She was recently named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow (2017-2019) to research and write an academic book on this topic, featuring testimonies from women around the world.

Date & time

Thu 16 Aug 2018, 12pm


LJ Hume Centre, Copland Building, ANU


Mona Lena Krook, Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University


Feodor Snagovsky


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