International: Financing women candidates in Muslim countries

Conditions of financial dependency complicate women’s participation in politics and make the funding of political campaigns extremely hard.
In many Muslim countries, women are not financially independent and they have to rely on their husbands or male relatives, such as fathers and brothers, to provide for the family. In some Muslim countries, women are not even allowed to own land or property themselves.
Speaking to the experiences of women in the Muslim world, Shabnam Mallick, UNDP’s Arab States Program Advisor, mentions that most women candidates raise their money not through resources provided by governments or development agencies, but through personal funding networks such as family connections, traditional sources of community wealth, and social standing. (Expert Opinion, 2008) If a woman does not have her family’s support, it is very hard for her to cover campaign expenses by raising funds externally. Lack of financial means is cited as a key barrier for women seeking political leadership roles in Indonesia in the assessment of Women’s Political Party Programs conducted by the National Democratic Institute (NDI). The assessment points out the following:

“Even when a woman has some level of financial strength, she is often impeded by her socially subordinate role that may result in her husband’s refusal to support his wife’s political aspirations.” - (2008. p.48.) This consolidated response highlights barriers faced by women in Muslim countries in funding their political campaigns and participating in public life. The consolidated response also discusses the impact of existing legislation, political parties, women’s organizations and international institutions on women’s participation in politics in these countries and provides strategies to overcome it.

Read the full iknowpolitics report here: