Ecuador: Championing safety against violence towards women in politics


Group of women standing next to a tissue banner inside a room
Construction of "Matria" during the meeting of women authorities of rural parish from all over the country, March 2024. Credit: CEPLAES

How much progress has been made toward the equal and meaningful political participation for women? 

A 2016 study showed that nearly 82 per cent of women parliamentarians worldwide had experienced psychological violence, while over 44 per cent reported that they had been threatened with death, rape, beatings and abduction.[1] Deeply entrenched patriarchal norms and attitudes, among other factors, drive political violence against women and girls, especially those in underserved communities, discouraging them from claiming their right to participate in politics. 

In Ecuador, the Centro de Planificiación y Estudios Sociales (CEPLAES – Centre for Planning and Social Studies) is a community- and women-led human rights organization dedicated to overcoming gender, economic, social, environmental and ethnic inequalities through public policies and knowledge management. Its three-year project, supported by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, works to ensure that rural, Indigenous, Afro-Ecuadorian and trans women, can exercise their political rights without fear of violence. 

Empowering women 

CEPLAES organizes training sessions for women candidates and elected women to equip them with knowledge on their political rights and skills to identify and report any cases of violence against them. Through various workshops, visits to rural municipalities and virtual meetings, over 110 women have already been informed about existing protection and reporting mechanisms for political, gender-based violence. For instance, a “violentometer” was widely disseminated in rural, Indigenous areas to help community members understand the phenomenon of political violence against women and how to prevent it. As a result, 14 cases of gender-based political violence have already been reported. 

Mechanisms for change 

In collaboration with the National Electoral Council, CEPLAES has established a multistakeholder working group to formulate and advocate for reforms and stronger regulations to guarantee the effective protection of women’s political rights. The group comprises officials from the governing body in the electoral field, and representatives from civil society organizations and other entities such as the National Women’s Council and the Ministry of Women and Human Rights. 

As a direct result, a new protocol for action against gender-based violence, aimed at women active in politics, has been drafted and will be disseminated among political organizations to encourage reporting. The working group drafted another prevention and protection mechanism, a code of ethics, which is awaiting adoption. 

Observatories against violence 

The project led to the creation of three observatories aimed at collecting data, monitoring political violence against marginalized women, and reporting of cases. After receiving training to strengthen their advocacy and awareness-raising skills, members of these observatories visit rural parish councils to inform, sensitize and advocate for change. In Morona-Santiago province, women members of the observatory, “Alert to political gender-based violence”[2] are advocating for the creation of an organization that can provide support services to women survivors of violence. 

Marilú Chalá, a member of the observatory, shares: “With empowerment and empathy, we can make a difference and change the culture of violence towards women.” 

[1] IPU (2016), “Sexism, harassment and violence against women parliamentarians”

[2] Observatorio “Alerta a la violencia política de género”