Election Watch

Assisting women candidates to counter gender-based violence and hate speech during the election campaign

Funded by UNAMI

Iraqi women candidates currently face unprecedented levels of harassment and violence toward the October 10 parliamentary election. The experiences of gender-based harassment in the electoral period of 2018, as well as the still- rising number of cases of violence against women in Iraq, strengthen the need to uphold women’s political rights and their equal participation in public life. By addressing politically-driven gender-based violence and hate speech against women candidates during this election campaign, the Election Watch project will provide a critical contribution to strengthening women’s participation in political life in Iraq.

With the support of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Iraq Foundation is currently implementing a nine-month project that focuses on monitoring and documenting instances of gender-based violence (GBV) and hate speech against women candidates for elected office in Iraq during the campaign period leading up to the parliamentary elections in October 2021. Iraq Foundation will post GBV and hate speech occurrences against women candidates on the project’s website during the election campaign and assist them in seeking legal recourse applicable under Iraqi law, and will analyze patterns and trends to formulate recommendations on how to prevent and mitigate gender-based harassment against women candidates.

The special site dedicated to the Election Watch project has offered a secure platform through which women candidates can submit instances of hate speech or GBV that they experience in-person, online, and via text and other messaging features. The Iraq Foundation will track this data in the interactive map and our legal expert will identify avenues for legal remedies available to affected women during the election campaign period. The publication of data on the interactive map is guided by our principle to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of the women candidates and reporters of GBV and hate speech.

Following the October 10 election, IF’s legal expert will review the data and analyze patterns and trends of GBV and hate speech. The legal expert will then determine what legal measures, if any, were taken to penalize perpetrators, and what further steps should be taken to provide stronger legal protection for women candidates in future elections. The analysis of collected data will result in a final assessment report to describe patterns and trends of GBV and hate speech against women candidates during the parliamentary election campaign 2021 in Iraq. The report will conclude with recommendations for further action by advocates of women’s political rights to mitigate the impact of gender-based harassment and hate speech.