Knowledge Summaries related to national and local elections

The Role of New Media in the 2009 Iranian Elections

Laura Mottaz, ed.
July 7, 2009

This report discusses presentations and panel discussion in Washington DC, United States, on July 7 2009, in which new media practitioners, Iran specialists, and interested observers attempted to c


Email from Marguerite Sullivan to The Communication Initiative on July 22 2009.

Radio Programming Inspires Afghan Women to Run for Office

May 13, 2009

Because, according to the May 1 2009 Independent Election Commission (IEC) report, no female candidates had registered for mid-2009 provincial council elections in Afghanistan's eight provinces, the r

Contact Information: 

Internews Network e-newsletter on May 15 2009. Photo source: Salam Watandar

Campaign School For Women

Communication Strategies: 

The 5-day programme consists of 4 modules, and covers the following topics:

  1. Campaigning for affirmative action for parliament
  2. Campaigning for gender equality in political parties
  3. Campaigning for political equality and government action (includes campaigning for government action on political equality and women campaigning for political equality)
  4. Campaigning for elected office



ALP has developed a conceptual framework linking these topics, which is based on the recognition that women need to acquire effective election campaigning skills. However, ALP stresses, given the current cultural and institutional barriers in Asia and the Pacific, this alone will not be enough to get women elected. Research and the experience of women from around the world suggest that overcoming these barriers requires both governments and political parties to adopt affirmative action measures of some form. It also indicates that women themselves will have to drive the campaigns required to bring about the changes needed in political parties, government, and the wider community, to increase the number of women in elected office.


These observations have shaped the participatory, practical nature of the Campaign School for Women. For example, the 2008 programme, organised under the Australian Political Parties for Democracy Program (APPDP), brought together 25 political practitioners from Asia and the Pacific. The programme focused on the campaigns required to get women elected to office in the region. Special attention was paid to the building blocks of successful election campaigns, internal campaigns within parties to get more women into decision-making positions, advocacy campaigns for affirmative action measures, and the role of political parties and other organisations in getting more women into office. The practitioner-oriented programme included meetings and functions with senior Australian politicians and was timed to coincide with the Cairns sitting of the Queensland Parliament. Participants observed a Queensland Regional parliamentary sitting and learned about other methods of community engagement and participation.


ALP has produced and is disseminating detailed guidance to those seeking to achieve sound policy outcomes that support women by encouraging women to participate in ALP structures at every level, to use these as platforms to fight for government positions, and to take an active part in public life. Available materials include a Trainer's Guide, Students' Resource Kit, and PowerPoint presentations.

Development Issues: 

Women, Gender, Rights, Democracy and Governance.

Key Points: 

The proportion of women in Parliament in the Asia Pacific region ranges from zero to about 30%, but is generally still very low. For example, there are 23 women Ministers of Parliament (MP) out of 222 in the Malaysia Parliament; this is less than 10%. Dr. Lesley Clark, Course Director for the Campaign School for Women, shared her 20 years experience in public office at the local and State level with women participants during the 2008 course: "The use of gender quotas in the Australian Labor Party which has resulted in the ALP having the highest proportion of women in all Australian parliaments at 37% is a powerful lesson for women from other countries and parties that have yet to adopt temporary special measures like gender quotas."

Contact Information: 

Posting to the Women's United Nations Report Network (WUNRN) listserv on February 23 2009; ALP website; and Chong Eng's blog, entry dated November 13 2008.

African Elections Project

The African Elections project, coordinated by the International Institute for ICT Journalism (PenPlusBytes), seeks to develop the media's capacity to use information and communication technology (ICT)

Communication Strategies: 

The flagship of this project is the online portal which provides country-specific relevant election information contributed by journalists and ordinary citizens. The portal offers up-to-the minute election news, features, live results, and analysis. The portal adopts the respective lingua franca of the countries i.e. French for Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire and English for Ghana.

The project uses short messaging service (SMS)/mobile phone applications as broadcast, monitoring, and citizen journalism tools, using FrontlineSMS and short code 1927 on all networks. According to the organisers, mobile phones have become an increasingly preferred means of communication in the sub-region due to their convenience and relatively low cost of deployment.

The project activities also include:

  • training for senior editors, journalists, and reporters;
  • development and dissemination of an Election Guide for the Media;
  • knowledge products for the media; and
  • media content monitoring
Development Issues: 

Democracy and Governance.

Key Points: 

In the earliest phases of the project, the focus was on West African countries. According to the organisers, access to balanced and unbiased election information is often a key problem in countries such as Ghana, Guinea, and Cote d'Ivoire. The logistical challenges of running nationwide elections is often compounded by a lack of election-specific knowledge among local media, which can often lead to misreporting, misinformation, and - in worst-case scenarios - civil unrest. Availability of ICT tools for local journalists can also be problematic, compounding the problem still further.

Editor's note: as additional countries are added to the project, new contact details are provided for each. Information about the first 3 countries in the project is below; to view additional details about newly added countries, please click here.

Partner Text: 

International Institute for ICT Journalism, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Media Foundation For West Africa (MFWA), Highway Africa, Ghana Information and Knowledge Sharing Network (GINKS), AGEPI, Association of Guinean Journalists (AJG), Ghana Journalists Association, Réseau des Professionnels de la Presse en Ligne (REPPRELCI), Global Voices, West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR), Kiwanja.Net, and smsgh.


PenPlusBytes website; Ghana Elections Blogspot on December 10 2008; Ghana portal, accessed October 28 2009; and email from PenPlusBytes to The Communication Initiative on December 6 2009.

Makkala Panchayats: Institutionalization of Children’s Participation in Local Decision-Making

Anirban Pal
November 1, 2008

Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies, Erasmus University

This 9-paper reports on a children's initiative begun in 1995 in Karnataka, India - now adopted by the state government for replication - to involve children in regular local public decision-making an


Children, Youth and Environments 2008, Issue 18(2): pages 197-205.

Election Campaigns, Balance, and the Mass Media

Holli A. Semetko
May 18, 2008

Emory University

This 23-page document describes and analyses the role of media in elections in four democracies and societies in transition: Mexico, Turkey, Russia, and Kenya.

Contact Information: 

Pippa Norris's website on the Roles in Media Conference, accessed on November 18 2008.

Search for Common Ground (SFCG): Elections in Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone, Search for Common Ground (SFCG)'s strategy focuses on building capacity and establishing local structures that support sustaining peace and building citizen participation in governanc

Communication Strategies: 

The main strategy in SFCG's elections work was to monitor the election process and provide constant, up-to-date coverage of what was happening - from political intimidation of candidates during campaigning, through to real-time initial results from various polling stations on Election Day, and consistent follow-up coverage of vote counts and official tallies. Through the IRN and NEW, civil society groups were engaged at every polling station across the country, and radio stations provided local and national broadcasts around election issues that aired daily throughout the period. In addition, SFCG made use of their existing radio timeslots to air programmes around voter education, elections discussions, debates with candidates, and election-themed dramas. They also held public debates where candidates and constituents could discuss issues of concern.

For the 2008 elections, their work also focused on supporting women candidates, and the inclusion of more women and their voices. In order to achieve this, SFCG used a wide variety of tools, including:

  • the creation of a coalition of women's organisations and a Women's Solidarity Fund to support women candidates across the country;
  • driving public fundraising efforts to support female candidates' campaigns;
  • support for a national workplan designed to ensure women are included in governance frameworks;
  • provision of strategic and timely information - for example, gender mapping of initiatives to support female candidates and case studies of female candidates in the nomination process;
  • giving voice to women and people with disabilities to participate, including space on SFCG's Talking Drum Studio national radio programmes, air time on IRN member stations, articles in newspapers, and video and TV coverage for female candidates; and
  • training women candidates in public speaking and campaigning skills.
Development Issues: 

Democracy and Governance, Women.

Key Points: 

According to the organisers, a post-election survey of 876 respondents revealed that SFCG's support for women candidates had a beneficial effect. The evidence showed that the messages were clearly heard and that attitudes have shifted to favour women's involvement in politics. The survey also revealed that nearly 80% agreed or strongly agreed that IRN was a credible news source, and 75% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that IRN had helped reduce violence during the elections.

Partner Text: 



Email from Rebecca Besant to Soul Beat Africa on August 28 2008; and SFCG website on September 19 2008 and February 2 2010.

Rural Women Reporting

March 1, 2008

Community Media for Development (CMFD) Productions/FAHAMU

Contact Information: 

CMFD website on August 15 2008; and email from Deborah Walter to The Communication Initiative on September 8 2008.
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