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2. Women’s political participation in Colombia


This chapter evaluates women’s political participation in Colombia within the framework of the 2015 OECD Recommendation of the Council on Gender Equality in Public Life. It assesses the current landscape of women’s political participation in the national parliament and in local councils at the national and subnational levels, specifically in the departments of Putumayo and Chocó, and in their municipalities of Mocoa and Quibdó. The chapter discusses the existing legal and policy frameworks and institutional mechanisms for promoting gender equality in political participation. It offers an assessment of key achievements, challenges and gaps in the implementation of gender-equality objectives within government decision-making frameworks and processes, namely in relation to women’s political participation.

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2.1. Introduction

The inclusion and engagement of women from diverse backgrounds in political roles is an essential element of a robust, diverse and representative public sector. Designing gender-sensitive political and governance systems can promote women’s access to decision making and contribute to the inclusion of a wide range of voices, experiences and ideas in the policy-making process. A number of studies have shown that women’s access to public leadership contributes to a more collaborative political environment, and OECD research shows that inequality tends to be lower in countries with a greater share of women in legislatures (OECD, 2016[1]). Further, women’s inclusion in executive government – as ministers, for example – tends to correlate with public confidence in national governments (OECD, 2018[2]), although social, economic and cultural factors have a large influence on differences in levels of trust in government across countries.

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2.2. Constitutional and administrative landscape

Colombia is one of the oldest democracies in the Latin American region. Legislative powers are vested in a bicameral national Congress, which consists of a 102-seat Senate and 166-seat House of Representatives. Members of both houses are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms, and the country’s president also has a four-year term. Powers are distributed among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, framed by a congressional system of checks and balances. In a participative process in 1991, Colombia issued its new Political Constitution, recognising itself as a social state based on the rule of law. The constitution upholds and protects basic human rights and recognises racial and ethnic diversity and gender equality (UNDP, 2012[3]).

Colombia is divided territorially into 32 departments (departamentos) and a capital district (distrito capital). Each department has a governor (gobernador) and a departmental assembly (asamblea departamental). Departments are further divided into municipalities (municipio), administered by a popularly elected municipal council (concejo municipal) and led by a mayor (alcalde). Governors and mayors are elected for a four-year term (ColombiaInfo, 2015[4]).

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2.3. Participation in parliament and the executive branch

Political parties are key institutions in the political debate and for fostering inclusive participation in electoral processes and political leadership. Their efforts to create a level playing field for female and male candidates are critical to ensuring fair representation and the participation of women in politics. Representation of women across Colombia’s political parties currently varies from 0% to 44.4% (UN Women/UNDP, 2018[5]).

Women at present hold 21% of seats in the Senate (including two senators from the FARC political party1) and 18.7% in the House of Representatives (IPU, 2019[6]). Two decades ago (1998-2002), women’s participation stood at 13.4% and 11.8%, respectively (IPU, 2019[6]). Current representation of women in the lower house of Colombia’s Parliament is lower than the OECD average of just over 30% Figure ‎2.1. At the subnational level, 12.2% of mayors and 17.9% of municipal councillors are women; and at the departmental level, women comprise 15.6% of governors and 17% of departmental deputies. This low representation persists despite incentives for support of women candidates under the electoral reform law of 2011.

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Figure ‎2.1. Gender equality in parliament, 2012, 2015 and 2019
Lower or single house of Parliament
Figure ‎2.1. Gender equality in parliament, 2012, 2015 and 2019

Note: Bars in light blue represent countries with lower or single house of parliaments with legislated candidate quotas as of April 2019. Data refer to the share of women parliamentarians recorded as of 1 January 2019, 1 December 2015 and 31 October 2012. Percentages represent the number of women parliamentarians as a share of total filled seats.

Source: (OECD, 2019[7]), Government at a Glance 2019,

In the national executive branch, women’s representation in the presidential cabinet is 36% at the senior decision-making level and 40% at lower decision-making levels (DPA, 2017[8]). In fact, Colombia has a greater proportion of women at the top decision-making level in central government than the OECD average.

At the ministry level, women’s representation in upper management positions is increasing. In 2018, a woman vice president was elected for the first time, and a woman was appointed to head the Ministry of Home Affairs. Yet gender imbalances persist in decision-making positions. A woman has never led the Ministry of Finance or the Bank of the Republic (Central Bank), and there has never been a female president of Colombia. This trend is similar in many OECD countries.

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Figure ‎2.2. Gender equality in ministerial positions, 2012, 2015 and 2019
Figure ‎2.2. Gender equality in ministerial positions, 2012, 2015 and 2019

Source: (OECD, 2019[7]), Government at a Glance 2019,

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2.4. Participation in local government: Departmental level

This section on local government and those that follow will focus on two of Colombia’s 32 departments: Putumayo and Chocó. These departments were chosen for this study as they were prioritized by the National Government (2014-2018) as post conflict areas in need of interventions aiming to strengthen subnational capacities.

Women’s political representation in Putumayo is increasing, suggesting shifting perceptions of women in politics and leadership and the potential for an improvement in gender balance in public life. There have been two notable two political changes.

First, in 2015 the department of Putumayo elected its first female governor, who won with 45% of the vote (ColombiaCom, 2015[9]). The election of this governor, who is a member of a coalition between the Green Party and the U Party, presents an opportunity to promote women’s political participation and is a visual reminder of the value of diversity in decision-making positions.

Second, Putumayo’s Departmental Assembly, elected in 2015, has a female majority, with six women among its 11 members. The 37 women who stood as candidates for the assembly won 38.9% of the vote, and one of the six women elected received 15 346 votes, the most of any candidate (Alianza de Mujeres Tejedoras de Vida-Putumayo, 2015[10]).

No women were elected in 2015 for Chocó´s 11-member Departmental Assembly (yet, one woman had a seat in 2016 after the death of one of the Assembly members), however seven of Chocó’s 30 municipalities elected a woman as mayor in 2015. This gives Chocó the third highest percentage of elected women mayors among Colombia’s departments, after Vaupés and Córdoba (Government of Chocó, 2018[11]).

However, while women’s representation in politics at the subnational level is increasing, progress is needed to meet the minimum of 30% required under the Quota Law. In local elections in 2015, 15.6% of the governors elected were women, up from 9.4% in 2011 Figure ‎2.3. Similarly, as shown in Figure ‎2.4, 12.2% of the mayors elected in 2015 were women, up from 9.8% four years earlier (UN Women, 2016[12]). Since Colombia’s popular vote system was established in 1991, 13 departments, or 40%, have elected women as governors (UN Women, 2016[12]).

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Figure ‎2.3. Percentage of women governors elected in Colombia since 2004
Figure ‎2.3. Percentage of women governors elected in Colombia since 2004

Source: (UN Women, 2016[12]), La Implementación del Sistema de Cuotas Electorales y Su Impacto en la Participación Política de las Mujeres en las Elecciones Locales de 2015,

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Figure ‎2.4. Percentage of women mayors elected in Colombia since 2004
Figure ‎2.4. Percentage of women mayors elected in Colombia since 2004

Source: (UN Women, 2016[12]), La Implementación del Sistema de Cuotas Electorales y Su Impacto en la Participación Política de las Mujeres en las Elecciones Locales de 2015,

At the departmental level across Colombia as a whole, women represent 38% of public officers at the top decision-making level and 41% at other levels. In 2017, three departments had averages lower than 30% at the top decision-making level: Sucre, Magdalena and Caldas (DPA, 2017[8]).

Across different departmental assemblies, women hold 17% of the seats, with 70 women elected in 2015 (Figure ‎2.5). This was a decrease from 2011, when 74 women were elected to assembly seats. In 2015, only five department assemblies had female representation of more than 35%: Putumayo, Meta, Valle del Cauca, Sucre and Atlántico (UN Women, 2016[12]).

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Figure ‎2.5. Percentage of women elected to department assemblies Colombia since 2004
Figure ‎2.5. Percentage of women elected to department assemblies Colombia since 2004

Source: (UN Women, 2016[12]), La Implementación del Sistema de Cuotas Electorales y Su Impacto en la Participación Política de las Mujeres en las Elecciones Locales de 2015,

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2.5. Participation in local government: Municipality level

The representation of women on Colombia’s municipal councils has increased over the last four elections (UN Women, 2016[12]). In 2019, women held 17.9% of the seats. Yet despite this progress, the level of women’s representation remains low (Figure ‎2.6).

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Figure ‎2.6. Percentage of women elected to Colombia’s municipal councils since 2004
Figure ‎2.6. Percentage of women elected to Colombia’s municipal councils since 2004

Source: (UN Women, 2016[12]), La Implementación del Sistema de Cuotas Electorales y Su Impacto en la Participación Política de las Mujeres en las Elecciones Locales de 2015,

Across municipalities, women represent 40% of the top-level public officers and 50% of officers at other levels (DPA, 2017[8]). In 2017, women’s average representation at top decision-making levels was lower than 30% in four city governments (Bogotá, Tunja, Mocoa and Monteria). Sanctions for non-compliance with the Quota Law do not appear to be enforced on subnational governments. This has at times been the case on repeated occasions. Examples include the Bogotá departmental elections and Tunja municipal elections in 2016 and 2017 (DPA, 2017[8]).

In Putumayo, the Mocoa’s municipal council elected in 2015 counted only one woman among its 13 councillors (Municipality of Mocoa, n.d.[13]). This indicates that voting attitudes still heavily favour male candidates. Likewise in Chocó, women received 12.66% of the vote in the 2015 elections for municipal councils. The municipalities where women were best represented are San José del Palmar (55.5%), Bahía Solano (44.4%), Bojayá (44.4%) and Medio Baudó (36.36%) (Government of Chocó, 2018[11]).

2.5.1. Women’s participation in elections for local governments 2020-24

Looking ahead to elections due in 2020, women candidates registered with the electoral authorities were: for governor, 21 out of 176 candidates (11.9%); for mayor, 781 of 5 187 candidates (15%); for departmental assemblies, 1 321 of 3 583 candidates (36.8%); and for municipal councils, 35 855 of 95 487 candidates (37.5%).

As mentioned in this report, until the 2015 local elections, women’s representation in politics at a subnational level in Colombia had an increasing trend. However, recent local elections (2019) results show a decrease in the number of women elected both for major and governor positions compared to the 2015 elections. According to the (Colombian NGO Corporación Sisma Mujer, 2019[14]), the number of women elected as governors in the 2019 local elections is 60% less than those elected in the 2015 local elections, only 2 out of 32 Governors offices are currently led by women governors. At a municipal level, there is a drop of around 3% in the number of women elected as mayors in the 2019 local elections compared to those elected in 2015. An important development has been the election of the first woman mayor in Bogota. In addition, for the first time, an indigenous woman was elected as mayor for the municipality of Silvia, Cauca. According to figures provided by the Office of the Presidential Advisor for Gender Equality, 74 women were elected as deputies for all the 32 Departmental Assemblies in the 2019 while 68 were elected in 2015, showing a slight increase of women´s participation in these institutions. In the 2015 elections 1900 women were elected for Municipal Councils, whereas 2092 were elected to hold this position in the 2019 elections, also indicating an improvement. However, these numbers remain low considering the total number of elected candidates: 12063 for Municipal Councils and 418 for Departmental Assemblies.

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2.6. An overview of barriers to women's equal access to politics

Social attitudes towards women’s political participation, as well as structural barriers and broad institutional factors, continue to disadvantage women electoral candidates in Colombia. Colombian women who have sought to participate in political and public life identified specific barriers during OECD in-country meetings. The challenges related to women’s political participation at both the departmental and municipal levels, and these barriers were both general and country specific.

Another issue is that violence against female leaders of social movements remains widespread (Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, 2016[15]). This limits women’s ability to participate freely and actively in public life. Many OECD countries have taken action to combat gender-based harassment and violence against women in politics and public life (Box ‎2.1).

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Box ‎2.1. Parliamentary responses to gender-based harassment across OECD countries

Parliaments across OECD countries have addressed different forms of gender-based harassment through policies, codes of conduct or specific resolutions.

  • The Canadian Senate has adopted a Policy on Prevention and Resolution of Harassment in the Workplace that applies to all members and staff.

  • In Mexico, parliamentary members or staff who experience harassment can file a complaint with the Bureau of the Senate, which in turn co-ordinates with judicial units to redress such incidents.

  • The parliaments of Slovenia, Sweden and Luxembourg have adopted provisions on sexual harassment, and the Swedish and Luxembourg parliaments include grievance procedures for redress as well as policy provisions to protect the rights of members of the LGBTQ community.

  • Sweden has also adopted gender-related provisions governing cyber-bullying and use of social media.

Source: (OECD, 2018[16]), OECD Toolkit on Mainstreaming and Implementing Gender Equality, OECD Paris,

2.6.1. Violence against women social leaders in Colombia

Violence against leaders of social movements in Colombia is on the rise, and it affects both men and women. These include threats, attacks and murder by different armed groups. This situation has worsened considerably during the past few years. Since the 2016 peace agreement between the FARC and the national government (as well as a breakdown in dialogue between ELN guerrillas and the government in 2018), new armed groups have taken control of territories previously dominated by the FARC. This helps to explain why the security situation has deteriorated for social leaders, especially for those advocating for land restitution, coca crop substitution and environmental causes (Semana, 2019[17]).

From February 2016 to August 2018, 343 social leaders were killed in Colombia, including 12 in Putumayo and 17 in Chocó (Defensoría del Pueblo, 2018[18]). Electoral campaign periods present a heightened threat to social leaders. In 2018, 40% of the murders of social leaders occurred from May to August, when campaigns and elections took place for Congress, vice president and president of the republic (Defensoría del Pueblo, 2018[18]).

Women are particularly affected: According to the figures shared by the Office of the Presidential Advisor for Gender Equality, until 2019, 6 out of 10 women candidates have been victims of violence. According to the National Ombuds Office, many of the cases took place in the departments of Cauca, Arauca, Antioquia and Norte de Santander, and around 10% in the departments of Putumayo, Caquetá, Nariño, Tolima, Casanare and Boyacá. According to women interviewed by the OECD during the Advisory Sessions in Mocoa (July 2019), this issue is of special concern, as 14 women leaders were killed in Putumayo between January and March 2019.

2.6.2. Stereotypes and other barriers to women’s equality

Gender inequalities – which often stem from deep-rooted and normative gender beliefs, such as women as primary caregivers – are also embedded in political, economic and social structures, the OECD heard during interviews in Colombia. These stereotypes may generate internal barriers for women and members of marginalised groups to participate in political life and top-level decision making, thus reinforcing existing gender roles.

Related barriers include difficult access to affordable care services and limited measures on work-life balance. For example, party meetings and other political events often run until late in the evening, discouraging women with young children from participating. Together, these barriers can reinforce the challenge of balancing work and private life. Sweden offers a good-practice example of a gender-sensitive parliament, while other OECD countries offer practical solutions for increasing women’s engagement and opportunities in political life (Box ‎2.2).

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Box ‎2.2. Gender equality for legislators in Sweden and other OECD countries

Sweden’s parliamentary gender action plans have succeeded in making the country’s parliament more responsive to the needs of women and men, including by introducing subsidised child care, the ability to take parental leave without resigning and standardisation of working hours and sessions.

The parliament’s first Gender Equality Action Plan (2006-10) was developed based on the findings of an internal survey conducted by the Speaker’s Reference Group on Gender Equality Issues. The survey revealed that, despite significant gains towards gender equality, women parliamentarians still faced significant challenges in advancing their careers and receiving the same level of respect as their male counterparts.

A document entitled “Fifteen Proposals for Gender Equality in Parliament”, based on the survey results, formed the basis of the parliament’s first formal gender action plan. A gender-equality plan is now adopted for each legislative session, and the parliament’s secretary-general is responsible for ensuring that there is reporting on the results achieved and the challenges remaining. The plan pinpoints areas in which gender inequity persists and identifies concrete actions to address these within a specified time period by specific actors.

Parliaments in several OECD member states have adopted family-friendly provisions to promote work-life balance. The Danish parliament does not allow voting after 7 p.m., while Sweden’s parliament tries to avoid evening voting as well as votes held on Mondays and Fridays. The Australian House of Representatives allows proxy voting for women who are breastfeeding when a vote is called. A number of parliaments have established crèche or childcare facilities. The Swedish and German parliaments provide crèche facilities for all parliamentary members and staff.

In Spain, legislation was amended under the 2007 Gender Equality Act to provide maternity and paternity leave for elected officials, and to allow remote voting in certain plenary sessions in cases of pregnancy, maternity of paternity issues or serious illness, duly justified and authorised by the Chamber Bureau.

Source: (OECD, 2018[16]), OECD Toolkit on Mainstreaming and Implementing Gender Equality, OECD Paris,

2.6.3. Barriers to women’s equality within political parties

Colombia has seen progress on the issue of funding and promoting women’s political presence: political parties are required to use 15% of their permanent subsidies for the promotion of training and research and the effective inclusion of women, ethnic minorities and young people. However, an absence of legal controls over the use of these funds to promote female leadership has weakened the impact of this measure. The funds have been allocated, for example, for the administration of party offices, the purchase of flowers and the celebration of Mother’s Day (Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, 2016[15]).

As in many other countries, female candidates in Colombia often face challenges in receiving equitable financial backing from their political parties. Accurate information is limited about the real level of election expenses and the sources of campaign funding. An information gap on the implementation of regulations limits opportunities for oversight and accountability, and can complicate efforts to level the playing field among candidates. Former senators and political representatives recognise in interviews that investing more and better resources in training emerging female leaders, and making funding available to women during campaigns (initiatives similar to Emily’s List in the United States), could have an important impact on increasing women’s political participation (Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, 2016[15]).

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Box ‎2.3. Spain: Analyses and data on the implementation of balanced presence of women and men in elections

Since the approval of the Equality Law in 2007, the General Directorate of Internal Policy of the Spanish Ministry of Home Affairs, carries out analyses with detailed data on the impact of compulsory compliance with the principle of balanced presence of women and men in candidate lists in national, local and European Parliament elections. The first analysis was published after the 2007 local elections, which took place after the entry into force of the Law. They are available (in Spanish) at the webpage of the Spanish Ministry of Home Affairs.

Source: (Government of Spain, n.d.[19]),

The uneven implementation of the Quota Law, and the fact that sanctions are limited for non-compliance in electoral processes, can also serve as a structural barrier for women’s political participation. There are no mandatory quotas within political parties’ internal structures. Key elements of elections – such as candidate selection procedures, financial support and career progression and promotion, all of which can have a fundamental impact on women’s advancement in public life – are often conducted outside the reach of quota regulations and other government efforts to improve gender equality in politics. Further, the OECD has assessed that there is not always a strong state institutional presence in rural and regional parts of Colombia, which can limit the implementation of policies intended to support equal access to politics and can increase the challenges faced by women in subnational elections.

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Box ‎2.4. Spain’s approach to monitoring the impact of its gender law on elections

Under Spain’s Gender Equality Law, adopted in 2007, the government carries out detailed analyses on the impact of compulsory compliance with the principle of balanced presence of women and men in candidate lists in national, local and European Parliament elections. The analyses, with detailed gender-balance data, are carried out by the Interior Ministry’s General Directorate of Internal Policy and are published on the ministry’s website. They show, for example, that women’s representation as candidates in European Parliament elections rose to 17% in 2009 from 13% in 2004, and that women won 36% of Spain’s 52 seats in that body in 2009, up from 33% in 2004.

Source: (Interior Ministry of Spain, n.d.[20]),

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2.7. Legal and policy frameworks to promote gender equality in political participation

Over the past two decades, Colombia has demonstrated its commitment to gender equality. As of 2015, it had ratified all international treaties on equal rights for women and gender equality, many of which are part of the body of constitutional rules (under CONPES 161 of 2013). However, although Colombia has taken steps to adapt and reform its legal and policy framework to support women’s political participation, there is scope for further progress in the legal and policy frameworks and their effective implementation and monitoring, especially at a local level.

The 2015 OECD Recommendation on Gender Equality in Public Life, (GEPL Recommendation) highlights that achieving gender equality requires:

  • committed leadership

  • effective institutional frameworks

  • resources

  • tools

  • gender mainstreaming across levels of governments.

It underlines that a whole-of government approach, supported by effective institutions and policy frameworks, is essential to ensure that gender equality efforts are sustainable. In light of the GEPL Recommendation (OECD, 2016[21]), this section will examine legal frameworks, national strategies, action plans and institutional arrangements for gender equality, namely in political participation.

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2.8. National level frameworks for gender equality

Colombia has instituted a range of laws, regulations and public policies on gender equality at the national level. These include: 1) a Quota Law for women’s representation in public administration (including an electoral reform law that applies to political party electoral lists); 2) the National Development Plan 2018-22, which includes a specific policy line on women’s political participation; 3) a National Policy for Gender Equality; 4) a nationwide campaign strategy for improving women’s representation in politics; and 5) several gender equality programmes.

2.8.1. Quota Law

The Colombian government enacted national affirmative action for gender equality primarily to improve women’s participation in public administration. The Quota Law (Law 581 of 2000) establishes the participation of women in at least 30% of the top decision-making positions in public administration.

Eleven years after the adoption of this legislation, the Electoral Reform Law (Law 1475 of 2011) introduced the Quota Law for candidacies to political bodies (city councils, assemblies and management committees). It established that political party lists for the election of five seats or more should include at least 30% of candidates of each gender. This law also sets out organisational and operational rules for political parties and electoral processes, making it mandatory to present at least 30% of women as candidates to public bodies.

The Electoral Reform Law also provides incentives for the support of women candidates. It grants political parties and movements an additional 5% funding for the election of women candidates, and also requires political parties to invest 15% of the permanent state funding they receive into research and training activities for the inclusion of women, young people and ethnic minorities in the parties’ internal bodies.

While the Quota Law led to an increase in the percentage of women elected in the last national and departmental elections, the political representation of women at all levels continues to fall markedly short of the 30% set out in the law. This points to a gap between the policy set out in the law and its implementation and enforcement in practice. A more targeted and robust commitment would help to deliver gender equality outcomes, accompanied by adequate governance systems and processes.

As for the Electoral Reform Law, if parties do not meet the required 30% of women on candidates list, the list’s inscription is revoked. The law stipulates that the statutes and regulations of political parties must include dispositions guaranteeing women’s right to equality in the inscription and selection of candidates (Article 4). Compliance and follow-up of the law’s implementation is the responsibility of the Department for Public Administration, the Inspector General and the National Ombudsman.

Spain offers an interesting example of legislation to promote gender parity in political parties. Compared to Colombia, Spain mandates a higher percentage of women candidates on party lists and imposes effective sanctions for non-compliance (Box ‎2.5).

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Box ‎2.5. Spain’s approach to gender balance in electoral politics

Spain’s law for effective equality between women and men (Organic Law 3/2007 of 22 March 2007) amended the General Election Regime Law (Government of Spain, 2007[22]). It mandates parties to have a balanced presence of women and men, with no fewer than 40% and no more than 60% of candidates of each sex, in the lists of candidates for election to: the lower house of parliament, municipal and island councils, the legislative assemblies of the Autonomous Communities, such as Catalonia and the Basque Country, and the European Parliament.

The measure is designed to prevent abuse by political parties: the 40/60 proportion must be respected not only in electoral lists as a whole but also for every five positions within each list. This requirement prevents parties from indulging in bad practices such as relegating the 40% of female candidates to the bottom of the list, thereby placing many of them in unwinnable positions. This is particularly important in proportional election systems with closed and blocked party lists, as in Spain.

The law establishes effective sanctions: electoral lists that do not fulfil the quota requirements are withdrawn by electoral officials.

This amendment has contributed to increasing the political presence of women in Spain’s elected bodies. In the last general elections, held on 10 November 2019, women were elected to 44% of the seats in the Congress of Deputies and 38.87 % of the seats in the Senate. In the parliaments of the Autonomous Communities, women were elected to a high of 46% of seats.

This progress also can be observed at a local level, where the proportion of women councillors and mayors has grown in a sustained manner, with 40% women councillors and 21% of women mayors elected in 2019.

Source: (European Institute for Gender, n.d.[23]), “Spain: Electoral practices that work”,

Certain barriers prevent full realisation of the objectives of Colombia’s Quota Law. For example, fewer than half of the departments (14 out of 32) are entitled to five seats or more in the National Assembly, which reduces the possibility of reaching 30% in the electoral processes as a whole. An assessment of compliance with the Quota Law, supported by the Spanish Agency for International Co-operation (AECID), highlighted that implementation varies across the public administration. For example, public management positions are not subject to the law (UNDP, 2012[3]).

The National Electoral Council does not appear to have the mandate to exercise systematic control or review how Colombia’s political parties spend the funding received from the state. Further, application of the Quota Law is uneven in sectors that face challenges in complying with its standards at top decision-making levels. Examples include the Department of Housing (women’s representation of 12% in 2015, 18% in 2016, and 11% in 2017) and the Department of Intelligence, which reported zero women’s representation in 2015, 2016 and 2017 (DPA, 2017[8]). The two sectors with greatest women’s representation at top decision-making levels in 2017 were the Department of Public Administration and the Social Inclusion and Reconciliation Sector, while the sector with the highest representation of women at the next level of decision-making was the Sports Sector, with 67% of women’s representation in (Casas-Zamora and Falguera, 2016[24]).

The Department of Public Administration aims to systematically follow up through an annual report on compliance with the Quota Law by the executive, legislative and the judicial branches, and by other national and subnational entities. This should encourage transparency by publicising women’s representation in public office every year, both at a national and a subnational level.

Although the Quota Law does not stipulate a gender quota for party membership, some political parties have voluntarily adopted regulations for an internal gender quota. Parties like MIRA, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, the Alternative Democratic Pole Party and the U Party have incorporated women’s right to equality in politics into their statutes and regulations. Some, including the Green Alliance Party, the Alternative Democratic Pole Party and the Patriotic Union Party, have voluntarily adopted regulations on a gender quota inside the parties (DPA, 2017[8]).

Colombia’s electoral system does not require political parties to alternate men and women candidates on their electoral lists – a practice known as the “zipper system”, or vertical parity. This means that political parties can place women candidates at the bottom of their lists and still fulfil the 30% requirement. Research by UN Women revealed that, in the 2015 elections for departmental assemblies, most of the 1 259 women candidates were positioned at the end (40%) or in the middle (33%) of electoral lists, while 27% were placed higher (UN Women, 2016[12]).

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Box ‎2.6. Colombia’s electoral system of open and closed lists

Under Colombia’s electoral system, which was reformed in 2003, political parties may present candidates on two types of lists:

  • the closed list, where the electorate votes for a political party as a whole. Each party determines the order of candidates on its list, with those positioned highest the most likely to be elected. Voters thus have no influence on which candidates are elected.

  • the open list, where the electorate votes for a political party as a whole, but where voters have the right to choose their preferred candidate on the list. After the election, the list is reorganised to take account of this Preferential Vote (Voto Preferente). Voters thus have an influence on which candidates are elected.

In both cases (open and closed lists), seats are apportioned via an “electoral quotient” (Cifra Repartidora) of total votes received by a party divided by the total number of seats.

A political and electoral reform debated in the Colombian Congress in 2018 contained measures to increase the chances for women to be elected, including elimination of the Preferential Vote and introduction of the “zipper system”. Unfortunately, according to a document provided by the CNE, this reform failed in the conciliation stage between the two chambers.

However, the Statute of Opposition (Law 1909 of 2018), which establishes the rights of opposition parties, contains dispositions that favour women, such as a gender equality principle and the right of alternation in party management positions. This law also includes an obligation to define protection measures for women candidates.

The 2015 reform of the Constitution implicitly recognises the need to reinforce the gender quota and foster women’s political participation. The reform, carried out under the Balance of Powers Reform Act (Legislative Act No. 2 of 2015), establishes three main principles: parity, requiring that 50% of the members of political participation spaces be women; universality, meaning that the Quota Law must be applied in all government institutions and ministries; and alternation, requiring political parties to list electoral candidates in alternating gender order. The regulation of this act could boost women’s political participation and opportunities for engagement.

There is scope for parliament to strengthen implementation of the parity principle through regulations. The Inspector General’s Office could follow up via better monitoring of compliance with the Quota Law and sanctions for non-compliance. To boost gender-sensitive policy making by parliament, this could potentially be championed by the Legal Commission for Women´s Equality (Comisión Legal para la Equidad de la Mujer).

2.8.2. Sanctions for non-compliance with the Quota Law

Article 4 of the Quota Law concerns compliance with the law’s provisions for women to hold at least 30% of the decision-making positions in public administration. However, the wording of the article is vague. Non-compliance by a public entity is to be sanctioned with a 30-day suspension from office, and removal from office if the conduct persists – but the article does not state precisely who is to be held liable, and this is viewed as a vacuum in the law. Some guidance has been provided by the Constitutional Court, which indicates that the person to be sanctioned is the public officer who made the non-complying appointment (Sentence C-371/2000).

The Department of Public Administration monitors implementation of Article 4, submitting its findings each year to the Inspector General’s Office, which is in charge of reporting and sanctioning non-compliant entities. However, the Quota Law does not specify which entity is to follow up on implementing the other provisions of the law, such as women’s access to professional development. This leaves a gap in terms of oversight and enforcement. There also appear to be limited mechanisms for ensuring compliance with the law in practice. This could generate a sense of impunity and discourage women from participating in politics or aiming for public office.

The High Presidential Council for Women’s Equality has emphasised the role of the Observatory for Women and Political Participation in following up on the Quota Law and informing the public about it (UNDP, 2012[3]). The observatory could benefit from increased resources and legal reinforcement for implementing additional follow-up mechanisms together with the Inspector General’s Office, the OECD was told in December 2017 by the Presidential Advisor for Gender Equality. Promoting compliance with the Quota Law – for example, by establishing active mechanisms like the campaign “More Women, More Democracy” and by encouraging the role of civil society as a systematic monitor – could help to ensure the law’s effective implementation.

2.8.3. Financing for political campaigns

Colombia has taken steps to develop a legal framework that would guarantee equitable electoral conditions, protect the rights of vulnerable populations and control the influence of campaign funding from questionable sources. In general, legal provisions have tried to catch up with changing realities on the ground within Colombia’s political context, including illegally financed campaigns (Casas-Zamora and Falguera, 2016[24]). Yet many challenges remain, especially regarding the implementation of effective sanctions and the oversight of political finance.

A study on Colombia’s upper-management decision makers by the United Nations Development Programme found that a number of ministerial-level officials are members of a “social elite group” (UNDP, 2012[3]). Campaign funding in Colombia can be private or public, and in 2014 elections for Congress, private funds represented 70% of the total cost of the campaigns (Casas-Zamora and Falguera, 2016[24]).

According to International IDEA and the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, electoral candidates in Colombia enjoy fundraising opportunities if they have the support of a political group or the advantages of incumbency. Emerging female leaders can thus face more complex financial limitations than women already on the inside lane of Colombian politics (Guzmán Rodríguez and Prieto Dávil, 2014[25]).

OECD interviews and research in Colombia indicate that candidates at a subnational level, especially those on open lists, rarely find campaign funding support from their parties, partly because the parties’ financial structure is weaker in the regions (Casas-Zamora and Falguera, 2016[24]). Furthermore, OECD interviews indicate that while there are indications that political parties allocate resources according to the perceived electoral viability of individual candidates, information on the allocation of funds within political parties is limited.

Law 1475 of 2011 requires that 5% of state funding for political parties be distributed as an incentive for those that gain seats for women candidates. However, the law does not say how these resources should be spent. Furthermore, as there is a voting threshold that parties must reach in order to obtain seats and maintain their legal status (Personería Jurídica), Law 1475 of 2011 also contains incentives for parties that have gained seats in the previous election (to Congress, departmental assemblies and municipal councils).

These incentives are considerably higher than those for having women elected. For instance, parties that won more that 3% of the seats in the previous election to Congress receive 15% of state funding for the next election. This means that parties may find it more advantageous to focus on obtaining seats and votes than on guaranteeing that women are effectively elected.

This law also requires every party and political movement to allocate at least 15% of the state funding they receive to training activities for increasing political participation among women, ethnic groups and young people. However, stakeholders indicate that the parties often have difficulties distributing this percentage in fair proportions among those groups. Additionally, as parties are not required to report on the training activities, it can be challenging to oversee the use of this funding and whether it actually increases inclusiveness and gender equality. The sanction framework for non-compliance with this requirement also needs to be clarified.

Regarding the oversight of financial dispositions, only a handful of investigations were initiated by the National Electoral Council (CNE) after the 2014 legislative elections, despite low levels of compliance with campaign finance regulations by parties and candidates. This is possibly due to structural and internal barriers, which will be further discussed below.

The “Cuentas Claras” (Clear Accounts) mechanism

Like other Latin American countries, Colombia has achieved a robust and sophisticated normative system on public and private funding assigned to political activity. Limits for general spending are precisely defined both by the law and by the CNE. Transparency rules are less precise, combining annual financial reports by the parties with electoral reports that are due only after the election. However, campaign finance reports are publicly accessible, and increasingly available, through the mandatory use of the Cuentas Claras digital application, an official mechanism for accountability launched by the CNE in the 2010 parliamentary elections (Casas-Zamora and Falguera, 2016[24]).

The Cuentas Claras mechanism aims to increase accountability by facilitating access to information on campaign funding. In the 2014 legislative elections, 93% of candidates used Cuentas Claras to report their sources of funding and expenses, and this was considered to mark important progress (Casas-Zamora and Falguera, 2016[24]). Yet there is still scope to improve the accuracy of information about total election spending and the transparency of campaign funding.

2.8.4. Regulations on media access

Colombia’s regulations on access to the media appear to be comprehensive, granting candidates and parties access to both state-owned and private-sector media channels on radio and television during the three-month official campaign period. Moreover, media slots are allocated by ballot to secure impartiality. Yet while the law is rigorous, stakeholders reported in interviews that practices appear to be more lax in this regard, especially at the local level.

As for media access for opposition parties, the Statute of Opposition (Law 1909 of 2018) sets out their rights, such as 30 minutes each month on national and regional television and radio, and a national television slot after every presidential speech.

Law 1475 of 2011 establishes sanctions for parties that do not comply with the requirements on media access, from loss of public funding and loss of access to state-owned media to a prohibition on registering candidates. In practice, however, private media conglomerates can lower their advertising rates for specific candidates or parties, creating inequalities during campaigns.

In Colombia’s electoral system, as in many other countries, individual access to media is as important for electoral success as access to money and networks. Presidential candidates are entitled during the campaign to two minutes per day per television broadcaster (private and state-owned) and four minutes per day per radio broadcaster (private and state-owned). Additionally, candidates, parties and significant groups of citizens are entitled to free advertising on state-owned and private media for two months prior to the election (Law 1475 of 2011, Article 35).

Despite these regulations, stakeholders reported in interviews that political parties and candidates often look for private media options. The financial resources required make this option unavailable to some candidates, which can create unequal access to media for women and other underrepresented groups. There appear to be no estimates about the use of paid electoral advertising by women candidates. Research carried out by a local NGO, the Electoral Observation Mission (Misión de Observación Electora), in the wake of the 2014 congressional and presidential elections found that women were underrepresented in the news coverage (Casas-Zamora and Falguera, 2016[24]). Paradoxically, the proportion of coverage allocated to women, including coverage of gender issues, decreased in 2014 despite implementation of Quota Law.

Colombia might benefit from strengthening implementation and monitoring measures for media regulations on political campaigning. Sweden offers a useful example in this regard. According to a Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) analysis, all candidates and all parties in Sweden “have equal opportunity of access to the national media and other means of communication.” It adds that equality among political candidates in terms of their access to media is to a large extent safeguarded by the public service rules of Swedish public television and radio (SGI, 2017[26]).

2.8.5. National gender strategies and public policies

National Policy for Gender Equality

The Colombian government – specifically, the High Presidential Council for Women’s Equality (CPEM) – published guidelines in 2013 for a national policy on gender equality, with broad input from civil society and groups representative of the diversity of women in Colombia. These guidelines were then approved by the National Social and Economic Policy Council (CONPES) as an official National Policy for Gender Equality. The policy, CONPES 161, set out six priority themes for addressing areas where Colombian women face discrimination: i) peacebuilding and cultural transformation; ii) economic independence and access to work; iii) participation in public life and decision making; iv) health and sexual and reproductive rights; v) gender equality in education; and vi) a comprehensive plan to secure women a life free of violence.

In 2017, in line with Colombia’s commitment to an open government, CONPES 161 became the first public policy evaluated through a participatory approach. It was also the first results-oriented evaluation of a national gender equality policy led by the National Planning Department. In comments to the OECD, the CPEM indicated that the evaluation would be used as an input for the second Action Plan for CONPES 161; the first action plan expired in December 2016.

As mentioned previously, the National Development Plan 2018-22 introduced a chapter on women’s rights, the “Pact for Women’s Equality”, with policy lines that are similar to those of CONPES 161: strengthening institutions to promote women’s rights; education and economic empowerment for women; women’s political participation; women's right to a life free of violence; rural women as agents of transformation; and equity for women in peacebuilding.

More Women More Democracy

A strategy to increase the political participation of women, “More Women More Democracy”, was introduced during Colombia’s 2018 legislative election campaign. The strategy aims to promote women’s leadership, inclusion and political participation in electoral processes. Within its framework, a virtual site offers tools to improve training, provide information and support the participation of female party candidates and civil society organisations (Interior Ministry of Colombia, n.d.[27]).

This campaign was launched with the signing of a “Pact for Peace and the Inclusion of Women in the Electoral Process”. The pact was signed by the Ministry of the Interior, the High Presidential Council for Women’s Equality, the Presidency of the Senate, the Chamber of Representatives, and the Legal Commission for Women in Congress, along with representatives of Colombian’s political parties and movements.

“More Women More Democracy” evolved from earlier initiatives. In 2005, political party leaders were invited to sign a “Pact for the Effective Inclusion of Women in Politics” and to strengthen female candidacies through political training, funding and communication strategies. This led to the introduction, in elections of March 2006, of a “More Women More Politics” campaign. However, its impact was not immediately evident: indeed, women’s representation in Congress decreased, to 8.4% in 2006 from 12.6% in 2002. This led to an overhaul and rebranding of the campaign (DPA, 2017[8]).

“More Women More Democracy” was run through the Ministry of the Interior and the High Presidential Council for Women’s Equality; the International Co-operation Gender Table also participated in its development. Commitments included among others electoral training for women to foster their effective participation in the political process; training and skills development programmes for new candidates; and instituting practices that promote equal access to electoral campaign resources for both female and male candidates.

Moving forward, there is scope for addressing the remaining structural barriers that impede the participation of women in political life, comprehensively and from a long-term perspective. For example, following national and subnational meetings, the need for measures that facilitate the work-life balance was identified as a key element for women’s inclusion in political life. During the launch of the “More Women More Democracy” campaign, the president of the Congress proposed the development of a gender-sensitive infrastructure, through an interparliamentary study and action plan, to improve working conditions for women and men inside the chamber. Specific policies could include the implementation of work-life balance reconciliation policies that set specific times during which meetings can be held to accommodate working parents. Inclusive strategies could also be created to facilitate the participation of legislators who cannot attend debates in person, for reasons of pregnancy or maternity, in order to combat discrimination against women candidates based on their prospective absence during these periods.

These efforts could be complemented by strengthening institutional mechanisms, such as the National Electoral Council and the High Presidential Council for Women’s Equality. It would also be beneficial to raise awareness and educate the public about the damage caused by gender stereotypes and how such stereotypes negatively impact both women and men. The use of information campaigns to influence a change in public behaviour and attitudes was demonstrated in Sweden through a communication strategy to combat male dominance in politics and improve social perceptions of women in politics and public life (Box ‎2.7).

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Box ‎2.7. Sweden’s approach to combatting male dominance in politics

Sweden has conducted a nationwide campaign to inform political parties and other organisations about male “domination techniques” and strategies to combat them. Domination techniques are defined as strategies of social manipulation and domination through which a dominant group maintains its power and privilege. Men may use domination techniques to assert themselves, for instance by treating women as invisible, ridiculing them, withholding information and so on.

Actions to address and counter male domination in Sweden have involved the use of role play, films and exercises. This has stimulated wide debate on women’s representation in politics and has facilitated discussions in schools, workplaces, municipalities and political parties. The creative employment of such innovative awareness-raising tools is essential for making initiatives visible and popular. Sweden’s National Federation of Social Democratic Women also produced a Power Handbook, which advises women on how to resist male dominance techniques and to obtain, keep and utilise power.

These strategies to combat male domination and promote balanced decision making have been elaborated and used over many years, and have proved to be effective. They have been spilled over from politics to other areas, like the workplace and education.

Why does this approach represent good practice and how does it advance women in politics?

  • It addresses masculine domination techniques and the theory of male power in an innovative way.

  • It creatively employs a variety of awareness-raising and training tools (films, plays, exercises, social media, etc.).

  • It is rooted in a gender-mainstreaming framework.

  • The materials and tools produced have been used extensively across Europe and around the world.

  • The model is very transferable and adaptable to different contexts.

Source: (European Institute for Gender Equality, 2016[28]), Advancing gender equality in political decision-making: Good Practices,

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2.9. Departmental level frameworks for gender equality

2.9.1. Putumayo’s policy on gender equality

The Department of Putumayo’s gender policy was adopted in late 2017. It is officially titled “Public Policy on Gender Equity and Equality for Women of Putumayo: Dignity, Recognition and Territory 2017-27” (herein referred to as the Putumayo Gender Policy). Its purpose is to complement the National Policy for Gender Equality with a regional perspective (Government of Putumayo, 2017[29]). The policy describes the multiple causes of women’s low political participation and explains that they are due to a range of personal, social, political and economic factors, as well as the rules of the electoral system and the internal functioning of the political parties themselves. It defines guidelines, strategies and goals that the department should follow in order to guarantee rights for all women in Putumayo.

The Putumayo Gender Policy has eight objectives, one of which, Objective 4, relates specifically to women’s political participation. Objective 4 calls for designing initiatives that favour the training and political empowerment of women in their territories to enhance their participation in decision making and high-level positions. These initiatives should further the implementation of gender-sensitive strategic agendas and interests. Section 3.6, on women’s empowerment, outlines a strategy for “institutional strengthening, women’s empowerment and capacity building for active participation and access to power” (Government of Putumayo, 2017[29]).

The Putumayo Gender Policy serves as a development and evaluation tool for public policy and includes cross-sectoral strategies, work areas and lines of action, such as Line of Action 1: “Prevention, care and punishment of all forms of violence against women and girls.” It encourages the department to reduce gaps between men and women in an effort to overcome historical inequalities and gender stereotypes.

At the time of drafting this assessment, Putumayo was governed by a woman, and the OECD fact-finding mission in December 2017 was told that this seems to have helped foster the introduction of gender-related public policy at the departmental level, in line with the mandate of the National Development Plan. For instance, the launch of participatory budgets includes a budget line for rural women and actions for the political participation of women.

On-the-ground interviews in Mocoa suggested that the gender-balanced composition of the Putumayo Assembly also contributed to the inclusion of gender equality issues in its agenda.

Moving forward, incorporating Putumayo Gender Policy into the department’s Territorial Development Plan and allocating it with a specific budget could help to ensure its sustainability and continued prioritisation and the establishment of a robust institutional structure. To ensure a holistic response to gender-equality needs, this could be complemented by promoting spaces for dialogue and capacity building, in collaboration with women’s associations, to promote and highlight women’s inclusion and participation in the Department’s political life.

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Box ‎2.8. Community consultation in developing Putumayo’s gender policy

A grassroots women’s organisation in Putumayo conducted a two-year exercise to adapt Colombia’s National Policy for Gender Equality to women’s needs within the department. To achieve the goal of forging an inclusive policy, the consultation involved women from across the department, including local farmers, indigenous and Afro-Colombian women, and representatives of civil society organisations.

The organisation, the Alliance of Women Weavers of Life (Tejedoras de Vida), carried out this participatory process before presenting the policy to the department.

The resulting Putumayo Gender Policy is one of the few public policies built and implemented by a grassroots women’s organisation, or perhaps the first such policy. During its development, roundtable discussions were held in Putumayo’s 13 municipalities and its rural districts, with the participation of more than 1 500 women of all ethnic groups. Thematic and institutional roundtables were also held for awareness and capacity building.

Source: OECD interviews during the December 2017 fact-finding mission.

Putumayo’s departmental development plan

Putumayo’s Departmental Development Plan (2016-19) was enacted in 2017. The plan, which aims to develop a comprehensive vision of the leading political, social, environmental and economic issues in the department, incorporates the concepts of gender and human rights in the department’s development work. Roundtable discussions involving both women and men were conducted in all municipalities to inform this plan (Electoral Observation Mission, 2018[30]).

One of the plan’s objectives is to eradicate gender-based violence by developing sustainable public policies, improving gender balance in political participation, promoting women’s access to and participation in the labour force, and acknowledging the role of both parents at home. The plan also acknowledges the important role women play in peacebuilding scenarios within the post-conflict context.

The plan includes a “Women and Gender Equity Programme”, which aims to contribute to the prevention of gender violence and the promotion of gender equality through economic and legal empowerment, and to encourage women’s participation in decision-making contexts. The plan also includes a programme called “Rural Women for Land Transformation”, which aims to promote the inclusion of women in the development of the agricultural sector.

With its gender-sensitive approach to policy making at a local level, Putumayo’s Departmental Development Plan represents an important step in the inclusion of gender considerations across levels of government. The importance of national support to facilitate local-level initiatives was evident in the creation of this plan, which was developed with the support of the High Presidential Council for Women’s Equality.

Promoting the creation of interterritorial networks at a departmental level could enhance valuable collaboration with civil society, through representatives of women’s associations, with greater implementation in the respective territories. The results of the work of the interterritorial network could inform the agenda to be developed by the “More Women, More Democracy” programme.

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Box ‎2.9. Spain’s approach to co-ordination on gender policy

Spain’s “Sector Conference on Equality” provides an example of co-ordination between national and regional bodies on gender-equality policy. The conference deliberates and co-operates to attain the highest possible level of consistency and effectiveness in the determination and implementation of the different policies defined by the General State Administration, on the one hand, and Spain’s Autonomous Communities, on the other. This takes place through the exchange of views and joint examination of problems that may arise, as well as actions to address and solve them.

The tasks of the conference include: setting the co-operation framework; harmonising technical criteria, exchanging information and statistical data; serving as an information channel on current and pending legislation, plans and programmes on gender equality; participating in the elaboration, development and follow-up of state plans and programmes to implement equality policies; determining the distribution criteria for budgetary credits to the Autonomous Communities and following up of the use of those credits; informing the Autonomous Communities on international treaties and actions on gender policy; and co-ordinating national studies, surveys, research or campaigns on gender policy.

2.9.2. Chocó’s policy on gender equality

The Public Policy on Gender Equality for Women of Chocó, adopted in 2018, aims to complement the National Policy for Gender Equality with a regional perspective. Its main goal is to guarantee the rights of women in the department, acknowledging their particularities (e.g. ethnic and cultural factors), with the purpose of contributing to the elimination of inequality, discrimination, and exclusion.

Chocó’s Gender Policy has seven core topics, one related to women’s political participation and another to violence against women. For each topic there is a diagnosis of the current situation. There is no specific timeline for the policy. It is implemented by T topics a ten-year Action Plan that serves as a development and evaluation tool for public policy on gender, with guidelines, strategies, goals and timelines. It depends on the will of the governor in office effectively comply with the policy.

The objective related to violence against women proposes actions, such as workshops, to disseminate prevention measures; train and sensitises public officers in order to improve women’s’ access to justice; create shelters for women victims of violence; and design, strengthen and disseminate other pathways for women victims of violence.

Local women’s civil organisations and leaders play an important role in raising awareness about the main barriers to women’s political participation and the need for action. The direct intervention of women’s organisations in the design of public policies in Chocó is evidenced in Ordinance 013 of 2011, through which an Inter-institutional Committee to design and implement the gender policy was created (Government of Chocó, 2018[11]).

Follow-up and monitoring of implementation of Chocó’s gender policy (the Action Plan) is to be carried out by the gender mechanism within the Secretary of Integration and by the Secretary of Planning and Ethnic Development in the Governor’s Office (Government of Chocó, 2018[11]).2

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Box ‎2.10. Community consultation in developing Chocó’s gender policy

In the aim of creating an inclusive gender policy, Chocó’s departmental administration formed an Interinstitutional Committee in 2014 to design and implement the policy.

Community consultations were held in order to draft the policy document. Nine workshops took place, with 186 women from all municipalities of Chocó, and discussion groups were organised in Quibdó with more than 100 participants, including victims of the armed conflict, and men, girls and LGBT representatives. In addition, 233 surveys and 13 interviews took place with public officers in order to complement the policy with their views.

The Interinstitutional Committee is integrated by the Governor’s Office, local institutions in charge of protecting and guaranteeing women’s rights and representatives of civil society.

Source: (Government of Chocó, 2018[11]), “Política Pública de Equidad de Género para las Mujeres Chocoanas” (Public Policy on Gender Equality for the Women of Chocó),

Chocó’s departmental development plan

The Departmental Development Plan for Chocó (2016-19), “Opportunities for all Subregions”, includes the design and implementation of the Public Policy on Gender Equality for Women in Chocó through six projects. These include: i) making and implementing a Departmental Plan for promoting and encouraging women’s’ rights (Law 581 of 2000); ii) including in the Public Policy the peace agendas and the mandate of the First Congress of Indigenous Women; iii) strengthening indigenous women’s’ political participation and leadership; iv) implementing actions to favour women’s right’ to health, education, culture and peace; v) creating and implementing a secretary in charge of gender issues within the Governor’s Office; and vi) creating and implementing an Observatory to protect women’s’ human rights (Government of Chocó, 2018[11]).

Although resources were allocated for most of these projects, there were no resources for the creation of a secretariat in charge of gender issues within the Governor’s Office, pointing to limited alignment Office. This reflects a gap between public policy (Secretary of Planning) and budget (Treasury Secretary). Furthermore, according to the High Presidential Council for Women’s Equality, and as evidenced by the OECD’s fact-finding mission in Quibdó in July 2019, although the liaison in charge of gender issues within Choco’s Governor’s’ Office has been proactive and engaged with women’s’ rights, one person is not sufficient to implement the women’s empowerment agenda effectively within the department (Government of Chocó, 2018[11]).

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Box ‎2.11. Spain’s approach to economic empowerment of rural women

Spain’s Ministry of Equality has taken action for women in rural areas through an initiative called “More Women Better Companies”, in which agri-food co-operatives agree to work to promote the balanced presence of women and men in decision-making positions and on their executive boards over a four-year period.

The ministry, through the Institute of Women and for Equal Opportunities, provides to provide high-level training, such as mentoring or coaching for rural women or implements awareness-raising programmes for senior managers. Under this initiative, collaboration agreements have been signed with 22 agro-food co-operatives and associations of co-operatives, including Agri-Food Co-operatives Spain.

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2.10. Municipal level frameworks for gender equality

Important steps have been taken in Putumayo to improve women’s political participation at the municipal level. The municipality of Mocoa’s Gender Public Policy and Local Development Plan with Gender Perspective are examples of public policies aiming to incorporate women’s rights and relying on women’s participation at the local level. The Municipal Council of Mocoa has also created a Gender and Women’s’ Committee working on lines of action to empower women economically.

Although the concept of women’s advisory councils does yet not appear to be well embedded in Mocoa, the mayor has expressed his willingness to work on gender policies and to establish a Women’s Advisory Council at the local level. The members of the current municipal council have reaffirmed their commitment to gender issues and are adopting measures to prevent violence against women through advertising campaigns.

The Government Plan of the Mayor's Office of Mocoa 2016-19, “Time for Renewal, Peace and Equity”, includes a priority line on the promotion, formulation and consolidation of long-term public policies for the benefit of women and gender equity. However, beyond general objectives, there is no development of this line of action. To improve the political participation and representation of women, an Action Plan could be developed to build on the commitment by identifying, guiding and monitoring activities and action items for realising gender equality. The proposed Women's Advisory Council could be the appropriate mechanism to provide technical and programmatic support and ensure that the work of the Gender Equality Advisory Office is focused on closing identified gender and implementation gaps. Synergies can be strengthened with Municipal Council boards, where women have a leading presence, and with women’s associations, establishing collaboration lines and permanent participation instruments in the design and implementation of the municipality’s public policies.

Important steps have also been taken at the municipal level in Chocó to improve women’s’ political participation. Quibdó’s Development Plan 2016-19, “Route Q… We Keep Moving Towards Peace” (Ruta Q… Seguimos Avanzando hacia la Paz) includes a programme for women (Mujeres inteligentes y amorosas, Mujeres MIA’s) aimed at implementing the National Policy on Gender Equality at a municipal level. This programme includes four projects, each with a set of targets and indicators, on empowering women’s’ leadership and roles to promote peace and ethnic and cultural identity. One of the projects also aims to reduce the gap between urban and rural socio-economic conditions for women in Quibdó by promoting work opportunities for women outside the urban core of the city. According to municipal authorities in Quibdó interviewed during the OECD fact-finding mission in July 2019, one of the main issues faced by women in the municipality is informal employment, which does not seem to be explicitly addressed by the Municipal Development Plan.

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Box ‎2.12. Local-level gender equality initiatives in Spain

Spain offers interesting examples of local-level initiatives to promote gender equality. A project called “Work-Life Balance at the Local Level” was carried out by the Institute for Women and Equal Opportunities (IWEO) from 2008-15 within the framework of the “Gender Equality and Work-Life Balance” programme. It was co-funded by the European Economic Area Funds and in collaboration with the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) and the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities. The purpose of the project was to support an exchange of good practices between Spain and Norway and to draw up local plans for the reconciliation of personal, family and work life, and the equal sharing of family responsibilities (work-life balance plans) in a series of Norwegian and Spanish municipalities.

The result of the first phase of the project (2008-11) was the publication of a “Guide of Best Practices” for family work-life balance in local bodies in Spain and Norway. One of the main conclusions of this phase was the need to “externalise” the work-life balance plans, so that not just local governments, but also the parties involved, participated in their preparation and implementation, particularly social partners (labour and management), educational institutions and residents in general.

In the project’s second phase, work-life balance plans were developed in 12 locations in Spain and three in Norway, with a comprehensive perspective involving social partners from each location from the beginning of the process. The design, development and implementation of plans therefore stemmed from a participatory process, resulting in a better performance by all parties involved.

In a separate initiative, a “Collaboration Agreement” between the IWEO and the FEMP, signed on an annual basis, aims to foster gender mainstreaming in local public policies through a call for grants to promote work-life balance and equal sharing of family and domestic responsibilities, equality in employment and women’s empowerment, paying special attention to women who live in remote and rural areas. In the framework of this collaboration, a guide on work-life balance at a local level was elaborated, including good practices (FEMP, n.d.[31]).

Source: (FEMP, n.d.[31]), Conciliando Desde lo Local: Exportamos Experiencias,

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2.11. Institutional design to promote women’s political participation

2.11.1. Electoral management and oversight bodies

National Electoral Council

Colombia’s National Electoral Council (Consejo Nacional Electoral, CNE), the country’s highest electoral authority, was created by the Constitution of 1991. It oversees the electoral process as well as political parties and political movements, and monitors their activities, such as publicity and marketing, in order to guarantee fair conditions for the opposition and minorities. The Councils resources are assigned by Congress to the National Civil Registry. Its members, nine magistrates, are chosen by the Congress. At present, only one of the magistrates are women.

The CNE also supervises the financing of political campaigns and guarantees the right of citizens to participate in democratic elections. It counts the votes and determines the winners of every election. The Council is also responsible for sanctioning parties that do not comply with the requirement that women candidates comprise 30% of party electoral lists.3 In September 2015, for example, the CNE’s sanctioning power was used to revoke 166 lists, from 11 political parties, that did not comply with the gender quota for the 2015 election of governors and mayors. (El Tiempo, 2018[32]). However, the CNE recently decided that lists comprised only of women for the 2019 elections for local governments will not be revoked (CNE, 2019[33]). The Council has also made important efforts to train electoral bodies on gender issues and on making violence against visible.

OECD interviews and research in Colombia indicate that there is scope to strengthen the CNE’s resource base and administrative capacity. First, limited administrative capacity seems to pose a challenge for comprehensive monitoring of political parties and movements by the Council. Parties are expected to provide information on how they spend their resources, the number of women in their management bodies and the composition of their candidate lists. Implementation of these commitments is not yet fully and systematically reviewed by CNE, beyond ensuring that the electoral lists include 30% of women.

Second, under Colombia’s system for candidate selection and the funding of electoral campaigns, prospective candidates are required to pay for their nomination by political parties. This situation, which limits participation to those with sufficient financial resources, has been identified by representatives of the departmental assemblies of Putumayo and Chocó, and by female candidates to the Mocoa and Quibdó city councils in previous elections, as one of the factors limiting the participation of women in political life.

Various steps could act as a catalyst for further promoting gender equality in electoral processes: strengthening the CNE’s budgetary and political independence; creating regional offices; improving the Council’s resources and capacities; and increasing the Council’s technical instruments and administrative capacity for monitoring gender issues during elections. Another policy option could be the creation of a Gender Office within the Council, with its own staff and budget. This would facilitate the monitoring of both the compliance of political parties with their obligations and the evaluation of electoral results.

National Commission for the Co-ordination and Follow-Up of Elections

In 2013, the Ministry of the Interior created a National Commission for the Co-ordination and Follow-Up of Elections law (Decree 1421 of 2013). Entities on the commission include the Ministries of Interior, Defence and Foreign Affairs, the Presidential Secretariat for Transparency, the Armed Forces, the National Ombudsman and the National Prosecutor. The commission’s purpose is to ensure and guarantee the electoral process, to protect political parties’ rights and to ensure party compliance with the law.

The commission’s office in charge of dealing with complaints by citizens regarding electoral procedures is called the Unit for Immediate Reception to Guarantee Electoral Transparency (Unidad de Recepción Inmediata para la Transparencia Electoral). In theory, this initiative promotes co-ordination among institutions and encourages transparent electoral procedures. In practice, however, citizens who took part in an OECD political participation survey in 2017 suggest that the commission may face operational challenges and that limited public information is available regarding the complaints.

In this respect, the commission could consider publishing periodic reports on complaints received through its electoral transparency unit, especially those regarding women’s rights and the rights of other minority populations.

2.11.2. National Civil Registry

The National Civil Registry is responsible for organising and processing vote tallies and election results, and for identifying all Colombian voters by regulating the distribution of identity documentation for each citizen. Women represent 24% of the registry’s officials but hold none of the top level (DPA, 2017[8]).

To ensure that vulnerable and displaced populations, and communities at risk, are able to register, the Colombian government has run a civil registration programme over the last eight years through the National Civil Registry’s Unit for Vulnerable Populations (Opción Legal, 2013[34]).

However, the difficulty of obtaining identity documents due to the civil conflict remains an important obstacle for women’s participation in political and social movements. This is particularly the case of women from Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities and women living in rural areas, especially those affected by the armed conflict (Opción Legal, 2013[34]).

Moving forward, the CNE and the National Civil Registry could strengthen their information systems by systematically collecting, using and disseminating gender-disaggregated data. The CNE and the registry should be encouraged to record cases of violence against women candidates and others (social leaders and candidates). The National Commission for the Co-ordination and Follow-Up of Elections could report these cases through its Unit for Immediate Reception to Guarantee Electoral Transparency. The government and the CNE could consider additional oversight mechanisms, that provide field data, to complement and substantiate the results obtained through the Cuentas Claras mechanism.

2.11.3. High Presidential Council for Women’s Equality

The national institution in charge of gender policies in Colombia is the High Presidential Council for Women’s Equality (Consejeria Presidencial para la Equidad de la Mujer). This is a special unit located in the Office of the Presidency. The High Presidential Council for Women’s Equality promotes strategies for the advancement of equality between men and women, including:

  • promoting the incorporation of a gender perspective in the formulation, management and monitoring of policies, plans and programmes in national and territorial public entities

  • establishing follow-up mechanisms to comply with domestic legislation and international treaties and conventions related to women’s’ equity and gender mainstreaming.

  • promoting the regulation of laws aimed at achieving equity for women.

A challenge faced by the council concerns amount of states presence at subnational levels and whether regulations at the central level can compel local levels to adopt national policies and comply with restrictions. There is scope to strengthen the structure and budget of the High Presidential Council for Women’s Equality in order to boost policy and programme delivery. While the council’s links to the Office of the Presidency gives it a solid mandate, having its own budget and strengthened human resources could increase its impact at the local level.

2.11.4. Civil society organisations working on gender equality

At the departmental level, civil society organisations (CSOs) working on gender equality and women’s’ empowerment in Putumayo and Chocó provide important support for women in public office and in popularly elected bodies. These women’s social organisations are fundamental in shining a spotlight on the social problems related to gender equality in the departments. Historically, these groups have worked mainly on political participation, human rights, development and environment. The growing dialogue between local authorities and CSOs to meet the needs of the territories is a notable achievement.

Civil grassroots organisations open the possibility of diversifying traditional political methods. One example is the Women Weavers of Life (Alianza de Mujeres Tejedoras de Vida), which, as noted above, helped to forge Putumayo’s public gender policy. AA leading social organisation of women in Putumayo, the alliance brings together more than 30 organisations throughout the department, with more than 3 000 women leaders (Alianza de Mujeres Tejedoras de Vida, n.d.[35]). By creating a strong and collective voice and opportunities for collaboration, it has become an important platform for promoting women’s rights and preventing gender-based violence. The alliance works to train local women and women’s organisations, and to bring crimes committed against women into public discussion. Its strong communication links with subnational institutions facilitate institutional responses, according to representatives of civil society interviewed by the OECD in Mocoa in December 2017.

Likewise, two major civil organisations advocating for women’s’ rights in Chocó created and developed an initiative called “Schools for Political Training” that aims to facilitate and promote women’s political participation. These organisations - the Chocó Women’s Network (Red Departamental de Mujeres Chocoanas) and the Women’s Peace Route (Ruta Pacífica de Mujeres) - have worked with the community and political parties to reinforce this initiative, according to representatives of civil society interviewed by the OECD in Quibdó in June 2019.

Community Action Boards (JACs) are strive to be the representative institutions of each community in Colombia. They are composed of residents of a determined area of the municipality who volunteer to work for the interests of the community. As non-profit social organisations, with legal capacity and independent budgets, the JACs are open to all citizens. They are therefore important in terms of women’s political participation. Although there is no information regarding the proportion of women in JACs in Mocoa or in Putumayo as a whole, the community recognises this space as educational and politically inclusive. Community Action Boards in Mocoa communicate regularly with the local authorities (i.e. Justice House) in order to meet the needs of the community.

Community Action Boards could consider taking affirmative action to motivate women’s’ participation. Strengthening the links between civil society, local governments and international institutions could help to develop a holistic regional strategy for the strengthening and legal empowerment of women’s’ associations and the implementation of gender policy.

Local governments and international organisations could also play a key role in building bridges and highlighting opportunities for partnership among the existing civil organisations. Local governments could promote the creation of interterritorial networks at a departmental level focusing on the challenge of women’s low participation in politics. Such networks would allow the exchange of experiences and good practices and the identification of priority actions, which could feed into the “More Women More Democracy” strategy. Relevant CSOs could also work on the design of proposals for changing the traditional method for funding political campaigns.

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Box ‎2.13. Spain’s initiative to give European funding a gender perspective

Spain’s “Network of Policies of Equality Between Women and Men”, created in 2009, is the country’s main forum for analysis and debate aimed at improving the real and effective integration of the gender perspective in actions co-financed by European Structural and Investment Funds. It has become an essential tool for sharing experiences and good practices, designing pilot actions, conducting training and technical guidance, and improving collaboration among management leaders in general.

The network’s permanent members are the bodies responsible for gender policy and for managing European funding within Spain’s national administration, its Autonomous Communities and the European Commission. It is co-presided by the Institute of Women and for Equal Opportunities and the ministries responsible for the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund.

Source: (Government of Spain, n.d.[36]), ¿Qué es la Red de Políticas de Egualidad?” (“What is the equality policy network?”),

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Box ‎2.14. Colombia’s platform for supporting rural women

The Colombian Platform for Rural Women, a collective body of 26 rural women’s organisations linked to 840 grassroots organisations, has lobbied the Colombian Congress effectively for the establishment of an Office for Rural Women within the Ministry of Agriculture, and for the development of an explicit public policy for rural women under the 2014-18 National Development Plan (Article 232).

A member of one of the platform organisations was in fact appointed director of the Office for Rural Women, providing an opportunity for further positive influence of the national agenda and policies through a gender-sensitive lens.

Source: (Oxfam, 2017[37]), Supporting Rural Women to Drive Peacebuilding Processes in Colombia,

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Box ‎2.15. Spain’s financial support for women’s’ organisations

Spain’s Institute of Women and Equal Opportunities supports women’s organisations and promotes their participation through its annual call for proposals for their infrastructure maintenance and operation. Organisations may also obtain financial resources to carry out projects for women through a call for grants funded out of the country’s personal income tax.

Participation and communication between women’s NGOs and the government takes place through the Women's Participation Council, a collegiate advisory body comprising nationwide women’s associations and organisations, public administrations and social partners. It was created by Organic Law 3/2007 for the effective equality of women and men, and its functions, competences and composition are regulated in Royal Decree 1791/2009.

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2.12. The way forward

The government of Colombia has taken steps towards achieving gender equality over the last two decades, from legal reforms, such as the introduction of the Quota Law and the Electoral Reform Law, to institutional reforms such as the establishment of a Gender Legal Committee in Congress and a High Presidential Council for Women’s Equality. These efforts at the national level have not always been evenly reflected at local levels. There appear to be opportunities for increased policy coherence and co-ordination between the national government and the departments of Putumayo and Chocó and municipalities of Mocoa and Quibdó, specifically on the topic of women’s political inclusion.

Despite government measures and efforts to improve women’s political participation and access to opportunities to engage in public life, a number of barriers remain, many of which appear to stem from gaps between policies or laws and their implementation. Steps for closing these gaps include: strengthening the implementation of sanctions for non-compliance with the Quota Law; enhancing the accessibility and accountability of the campaign financing process, including by increasing the powers of the National Electoral Council; and supporting public campaigns to break down gender stereotypes and foster positive perceptions of women in politics. Taking action to close the gaps and ensure that policies and programmes are functioning as intended will be more efficient and effective with increased co-operation among different levels of government, and with stakeholders such as CSOs and women’s organisations.

The recommendations contained in this paper build on the Colombian government’s ongoing efforts in the gender equality area. The OECD-SIDA Co-operation Joint Work Plan aims to provide a path forward on how to realise these recommendations and support the systematic and deliberate implementation of existing and new policy measures to enhance women’s access to and participation in political life.

2.12.1. Public policy frameworks

Proposed actions for the national government

  • Strengthen implementation of the parity principle established through the Balance of Powers Act. Legislation could be considered to operationalise this principle to ensure both vertical gender parity (alternating male and female candidate on electoral lists) and horizontal gender parity (across municipal electoral lists). This could be coupled with a revised role for the Inspector General’s Office for more active engagement in monitoring compliance with the Quota Law and in sanctioning parties for non-compliance in order to enhance accountability.

  • Strengthen equal access to all media for female and male political candidates, and work to remove gender imbalances in electoral media coverage. Collecting systematic data and information on the use of paid electoral advertising by men and women could be an important step.

  • Introduce further incentives for inclusiveness by political parties in terms of female membership and leadership and for greater support of women candidates in their campaigns. It is important to ensure implementation of the requirement that political parties invest 15% of state funding to support research and training activities for the inclusion of women, young people and ethnic minorities in their internal bodies. Enhancing transparency and measuring the impact of such investments on increasing gender equality in political parties, and in politics more broadly, could also be beneficial.

  • Consider implementing a “Zipper System” mandating the alternation of men and women on party electoral lists.

  • Assess the gender-differentiated impact of political financing regulations namely the measures related to post-election reimbursement of expenses and the role of banks in providing credit to cover campaign expenses. It is important to work to mitigate the risk that such measures could disadvantage women running for political office who may have lower access to credit and personal finance.

  • Consider developing more active methods to co-finance regional policies on gender equality, in line with the OECD Public Governance Scan on enhancing administrative capacity at the subnational level for better planning in Colombia (OECD, 2019[38]). This document recommends that the national government help improve the co-ordination of national and subnational development agendas by increasing investment in capacity building at the subnational level in order to strengthen the longer-term sustainability and effectiveness of regional development efforts.

Proposed actions for national, departmental and municipal governments

  • Continue addressing structural barriers that impede women’s participation in political life. A long-term perspective and comprehensive approach are needed, for example via measures that facilitate the work-life balance in elected office: meeting times can be set to accommodate working parents, and measures can facilitate the participation of people who cannot attend debates in person, specifically in the case of pregnancy or maternity. Measures to address structural barriers should include improved security for women leaders.

  • Strengthen integration of the gender policies of Putumayo and Chocó into the Territorial Development Plan in the near future, and allocate them with an adequate budget that can help ensure their sustainability and continued prioritisation, in line with the OECD Public Governance Scan on Colombia (OECD, 2019[38]). This document, prepared within the framework of the joint OECD-SIDA co-operation project, recommends aligning national, departmental and municipal planning agendas to achieve development outcomes more effectively. To ensure a holistic response to gender equality needs, this can be complemented by promoting spaces for dialogue and capacity building among social organisations and public institutions, in collaboration with women’s associations, to promote and highlight women’s inclusion and participation in the political life of the departments.

  • Consider addressing the needs of indigenous and Afro-Colombian women by developing targeted legal and policy frameworks that also address the barriers that hinder the exercise by these women of their political rights. The national government should also seek to enhance opportunities for dialogue between community leaders and government, and to establish additional guarantees to protect female leaders and candidates from acts of violence and discrimination.

  • Develop an Action Plan for the municipality of Mocoa to help identify, guide and monitor activities for realising gender equality. This would build on the commitment of the Mocoa Mayor’s Office to improve the political participation and representation of women. Advisory councils working on gender equality and women’s’ empowerment, as proposed below, could be the appropriate mechanism for providing technical and programmatic support.

  • Strengthen efforts to increase awareness about land rights and to educate citizens, in particular rural women, about their restitution. Such government-led efforts, with in-depth and continuous political capacity building, could help to enhance women’s exercise of their rights.

2.12.2. Institutional frameworks

Proposed actions for the national government

  • Bolster the High Presidential Council for Women’s Equality with strengthened institutional autonomy and capacity to increase the impact of gender equality policies and to offer ongoing technical assistance throughout the country.

  • Strengthen the National Electoral Council with further budgetary and political independence given its central role in ensuring free and fair elections. It is important to expand the CNE’s outreach to regions, for example through the creation of regional CNE offices; to enhance the CNE’s resources and administrative capacities to act as a catalyst for promoting gender equality in electoral process; and to remove the existing gaps between the gender parity principle and its implementation.

  • Consider creating a Gender Equality Office with its own staff and budget within the CNE. This would facilitate the monitoring of monitoring of political parties in terms of their compliance with their obligations, as well as the evaluation of their results. Adequate measures should be introduced in parallel to improve the gender balance among the magistrates who sit as members of the CNE.

  • Collect and disseminate gender-disaggregated data to enhance the information systems of the CNE and National Civil Registry. This should take place on a systematic basis. To complement and substantiate the results obtained through the Cuentas Claras mechanism, the government and the CNE could consider additional oversight mechanisms that provide field data.

Proposed actions for national, departmental and municipal governments

  • Work to remove implicit and explicit gender bias within political parties through awareness raising and training seminars on gender equality and women’s’ leadership. National, departmental and municipal governments should consider investing resources to measure the impact of such seminars. The use of innovative methods and deep-dive approaches, such as behavioural insights, can be considered to help remove gender bias in political parties.

  • Encourage the CNE and National Civil Registry to record cases of violence against women, in particular women candidates and social leaders. The National Commission for the Co-ordination and Follow-Up of Elections could also report these cases through its Unit for Immediate Reception to Guarantee Electoral Transparency.

  • Promote the creation of inter-territorial networks at the departmental level to enhance valuable collaboration with civil society via representatives of women’s associations with greater presence in the territories. The results of the work of these interterritorial networks could feed into the agenda of the “More Women More Democracy” programme.

  • Consider strengthening synergies with Municipal Council boards, where women have a leading presence, and with women’s associations. Collaboration and instruments for permanent participation could be established in the design and implementation of the municipality’s public policies.

  • Work together to integrate gender equality across the systems and processes of the national government and local governments through gender mainstreaming, gender budgeting and enhanced resource co-ordination. Increasing the number of national institutions with appropriately trained staff and increasing the number of staff in charge of gender-related matters at the subnational level would also help achieve gender equality outcomes.

  • Foster the creation of Advisory Councils on gender equality and women's empowerment in municipalities. This could help to ensure the implementation of gender policy, making it a government focus in all municipalities and ensuring that implementation reaches the ground level.

  • Continue developing training activities to address gender stereotypes in co--operation with community members, and especially in schools. Women’s organisations can play an important role by disseminating knowledge to a wider community.


[35] Alianza de Mujeres Tejedoras de Vida (n.d.), Alliance of Women Weavers of Life (website), (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[10] Alianza de Mujeres Tejedoras de Vida-Putumayo (2015), Newsletter, Alliance of Women Weavers of Life, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[24] Casas-Zamora, K. and E. Falguera (2016), Political Finance and the Equal Participation of Women in Colombia: A Situation Analysis, International IDEA and the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, Stockholm and The Hague,

[33] CNE (2019), Consejo Nacional Electoral Colombia (website), Bogotá, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[9] ColombiaCom (2015), Elecciones Regionales 2015 (Regional Elections of 2015) (website), (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[4] ColombiaInfo (2015), Information About Departments of Colombia (website), (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[14] Colombian NGO Corporación Sisma Mujer (2019), “Disminuye la presencia de mujeres en cargos de elección popular”, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[18] Defensoría del Pueblo (2018), Homicidios de Líderes Sociales y Defensores de Derechos Humanos (Homicides of Social Leaders and Defenders of Human Rights), Ombuds Office, Government of Colombia, Bogotá, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[8] DPA (2017), The Implementation of the Quota Law Report, Department of Public Administration, Government of Colombia, Bogotá.

[32] El Tiempo (2018), “Asi funcionan las listas cerradas y abiertas al Congreso” (“The functioning of open and closed lists in Congress”), Bogotá, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[30] Electoral Observation Mission (2018), Ruta Electoral 2018: Proceso de Escrutinios, Misión de Observación Electoral (supported by Open Society Foundations and USAID),

[23] European Institute for Gender (n.d.), Spain: Electoral quotas that work (website), European Institute for Gender, Vilnius, Lithuania, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[28] European Institute for Gender Equality (2016), Advancing Gender Equality in Political Decision-Making: Good Practices, European Institute for Gender Equality, Vilnius, Lithuania,

[31] FEMP (n.d.), Conciliando Desde lo Local: Exportamos Experiencias (Reconciliation from the Local Level: Let’s Export Our Experiences), Federación Española de Municipios y Provincias (FEMP), Ministry of the Interior, Government of Spain, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[11] Government of Chocó (2018), Política Pública de Equidad de Género para las Mujeres Chocoanas (Public Policy on Gender Equality for the Women of Chocó), Gobernación del Chocó,

[29] Government of Putumayo (2017), Política Pública de Equidad e Igualdad de Género Para Las Mujeres Del Putumayo: Dignidad, Reconocimiento y Territorio 2017-2027 (Public Policy on Gender Equity and Equality for the Women of Putumayo), Gobernación de Putumayo,

[22] Government of Spain (2007), “Ley orgánica 3/2007, de 22 de marzo, para la igualdad efectiva de mujeres y hombres” (Law 3/2007 22 March, on effective equality between women and men), Official State Bulletin, Madrid, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[19] Government of Spain (n.d.), “Elecciones y partidos políticos”, Government of Spain, Ministry of Home Affairs, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[36] Government of Spain (n.d.), “¿Qué es la Red de Políticas de Egualidad?” (“What is the equality policy network?”), Equality Ministry (website), (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[25] Guzmán Rodríguez, D. and S. Prieto Dávil (2014), Participación Política de Mujeres y Partidos: Posibilidades a Partir de la Reforma Política de 2011 (Political Participation of Women and Parties: Possibilities from the Political Reform of 2011), Dejusticia (Centro de Estudios de Derecho, Justicia y Sociedad), Bogotá, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[27] Interior Ministry of Colombia (n.d.), More Women More Democracy (website), Government of Colombia, Bogotá, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[20] Interior Ministry of Spain (n.d.), “Elecciones y partidos politicos” (Elections and political parties) (website), Government of Spain, Madrid, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[6] IPU (2019), “Women in National Parliaments” (database), Inter-Parliamentary Union, Geneva, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[13] Municipality of Mocoa (n.d.), “Nuestros consejales” (“Our councillors”), Alcadía de Mocoa (website), Government of Putumayo, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[15] Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (2016), NIMD Country Programme: Colombia, The Hague, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[7] OECD (2019), Government at a Glance 2019, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[38] OECD (2019), OECD Public Governance Scan, Colombia: On Enhancing Administrative Capacity at the Sub-National Level for Better Planning and Open Government, OECD, Paris,

[2] OECD (2018), “Women in Government”, Directorate for Public Governance, OECD, Paris, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[16] OECD (2018), OECD Toolkit on Mainstreaming and Implementing Gender Equality, OECD, Paris,

[1] OECD (2016), “Conference on improving women’s access to leadership”, Background Report, OECD, Paris,

[21] OECD (2016), 2015 OECD Recommendation of the Council on Gender Equality in Public Life, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[34] Opción Legal (2013), Strengthening the National Civil Registry to Assist Displaced Populations or Those at Risk of Displacement, Corporación Opción Legal, Bogotá,

[37] Oxfam (2017), Supporting Rural Women to Drive Peacebuilding Processes in Colombia, Oxfam International, Oxford, UK,

[17] Semana (2019), “A marchar por los lideres: Estos son las razones y los puntos de encuentro”, Semana magazine, Bogotá, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[26] SGI (2017), SGI Sweden: Quality of Democracy, Sustainable Governance Indicators, (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[12] UN Women (2016), La Implementación del Sistema de Cuotas Electorales y Su Impacto en la Participación Política de las Mujeres en las Elecciones Locales de 2015,

[5] UN Women/UNDP (2018), Balance de la Participación Política de las Mujeres Elecciones 2018, ONU Mujeres / United Nations Development Programme,

[3] UNDP (2012), Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Public Administration: Colombia Case Study, United Nations Development Programme, New York,


← 1. Under the 2016 Peace Agreement between the FARC guerrilla movement and the national government, 10 seats in the Congress were assigned for members of the new FARC political party.

← 2. Based on the Beijing+5 Political Declaration and Outcome Document (2000), the Colombian government has disposed that all departments and municipalities shall have a body in charge of gender issues. Departments and municipalities are to have a secretary in charge of gender issues or at least a division, programme or liaison with the Office of the Presidential Advisor for Gender Equality. In Chocó there is a liaison in charge of gender issues within the Secretary of Integration, while in the municipality of Quibdó there is a secretary in charge of gender issues.

← 3. The Council of State has confirmed the competence of the CNE to revoke lists that do not comply with the gender quota (Consejo de Estado, Sección Quinta, 6 May 2013).

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