Gender Aspects on Election Violence

This research project explores intimidation and violence targeting politicians, with a particular focus on gender differences. The project has its point of departure in electoral integrity, defining election violence as incidents that seek to influence the outcome of an election by violating the personal integrity of political candidates. This means that acts of intimidation, threats, physical and psychological violence are all relevant acts to focus on.

The project has conducted surveys and interviews with women and men candidates in Myanmar and Sri Lanka (and a pilot study in the Maldives). It is the first project that focuses on political candidates’ experiences during elections, systematically comparing whether men and women are exposed to different types of violence. The project has been carried out in collaboration with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).

-The findings are potentially of great policy relevance and we have seen a lot of interest from policy-makers and practitioners, says Elin Bjarnegård, Project leader. If a large number of intimidating activities are undertaken in order to prevent women from running for office, but research and election programs are biased towards recording physical acts of violence, what is captured and targeted may reflect a predominantly masculine experience of election violence. This pioneering project is needed in order to explore the range of illicit methods that are used to affect election outcomes, and to be able to subsequently design and implement programs and activities that mitigate the risks for both men and women candidates running for election.

The results of the project have been presented at numerous workshops and conferences and will be published as a series of articles and in an edited volume, edited by Bjarnegård and Zetterberg.


Principal Investigator: Elin Bjarnegård (Department of Government)

Period: 2016–2019

Funding: SEK 2 700 000 from the Swedish Research Council, Grant for Development Studies

Research Team