Research Study on challenges faced by women candidates in accessing campaign financing in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia

Region: Hivos Southern Africa
Office: Hivos Southern Africa
Hours: N/A
Application deadline: February 1, 2020


Hivos is a Dutch development organization that seeks new solutions to persistent global issues. With smart projects in the right places, we oppose discrimination, inequality, abuse of power and the unsustainable use of our planets resources. Counterbalance alone, however is not enough. Our primary focus is achieving structural change. This is why we cooperate with innovative businesses, citizens and their organisations. We share a dream with them of sustainable economies and inclusive societies.

Currently, Hivos has two broad programmes which are; Green Society and Open Society. It is under the Open Society that these ToRs are developed under the Women Empowerment component.

Hivos in collaboration with its partners is implementing a five year (2016-2020) Women Empowered for Leadership (WE4L) programme in Malawi. This programme seeks to promote women’s leadership at the political level, in public administration and within civic organizations. It focuses at the sub-national level where decisions are made and policies are implemented that directly affect people’s day-to-day life. It moreover allows for women’s leadership skills to grow and mature. The main catalyzing forces in this programme are women’s organizations and (aspiring) women leaders. Implemented in 5 countries (2 in the Middle East and 3 in Southern Africa). In Southern Africa the project is focusing on Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The goal of the WE4L is “collaborating for increased and effective participation by women in politics and public administration.”


Gender inequality in political processes remains a challenge world-over, as women continue to be severely underrepresented in decision-making processes. A major contributing factor is the unequal access to the resources needed to successfully seek nomination or participate in electoral campaigns. Women often have less access than men to the resources needed to successfully seek party nomination or otherwise contest for election – a situation that creates uneven playing field. The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) conducted a survey in 2008 of 300 MPs affirming that campaign financing was one of the biggest obstacles faced by women. This was later confirmed in research by UN women in 2013, whereby over 80% of the respondents identified access to financing as one of the biggest barriers to enter politics.

An analysis of the relationship between economic resources and electoral processes reveals important differences between women and men candidates. Women’s unequal access to economic resources restricts their engagement in political activities. These barriers range from women’s exclusion from certain circles of power and ‘moneyed’ networks, to their own actual economic status, which is often inferior to that of their male counterparts


Political power is accessible to a small socioeconomic group of women in Malawi, bounded both by class (education, career) and social expectations (marital status, religious belief). Even so, in a patronage-based political and electoral system with few controls on party finance, women are at a distinct disadvantage, with fewer economic resources and less access to male-dominated networks.

Despite constitutional guarantees and other legal basis for gender equality, successive male-dominated governments have not done much to address women’s economic and political exclusion.


With Zambia’s winner-takes-all First Past the Post (FPTP) system, elections are often highly competitive. Only candidates who are seen as having a real chance of winning an election are nominated by their parties or individual supporters. Candidates also need to have financial support guarantees and other resources needed to campaign so that the party does not have to sponsor the candidate 100% in terms of resources. The FPTP electoral system therefore hinders participation of a broader membership of political parties or individual citizens more so women as candidates if they cannot demonstrate the ability to amass financial resources to run for political office.


Under the quota system, women were guaranteed 30% of parliamentary seats in the 2018 harmonised election. However, the implementation of the National Assembly quota system resulted in political parties fielding fewer women across all levels for the Harmonised Elections. Parties used the quota as a ‘zero-sum game’ rather than as a benchmark for engaging women as part of the political process. Structural barriers to entry, such as the nomination fee imposed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the cost of campaigning, also posed challenges for women considering running. Other challenges that hindered women’s political participation included cultural barriers, the violence associated with elections, violence and abuse against women candidates, and lack of access to resources by women.

Overall, the costs of registering as a candidate and running for a political position differs across the three countries and the barriers faced by women differ depending on context. Ultimately though, women’s lower economic status and lack of economic independence creates barriers for their participation in politics, and successful election.

The main objective of the research is to explore challenges and opportunities of accessing campaign financing for women candidates in politics in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi. Overall, this research will help us gain an understanding of the challenges faced by women candidates in accessing campaign finance in the different countries as well as explore opportunities and strategies on how to overcome these.

Specific Objectives:

  1. To understand the dynamics of the challenges women candidates face in accessing campaign finance in the different countries
  2. To provide recommendations, best practices and strategies on how women can better access campaign financing

The Research will cover the following:

  1. Campaign financing and its importance
  2. The regulations governing political party financing in the different countries
  3. The challenges faced by women in accessing campaign financing
  4. The various innovative strategies used for campaign financing
  5. Case studies of success stories and best practices from countries in the region and beyond
  6. Recommendations

Expectations of Consultant:

  1. Develop and design framework, methodology and research instruments
  2. Carry out a field research based on set methodology.
  3. Compile a full Report for the country research including at least three case studies.


  1. Framework, Methodology and Research Instruments
  2. A full report on the challenges and opportunities of accessing campaign financing for women candidates and its role in promoting women’s political participation in Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe
  3. At least three case studies of models/strategies on what is working in the region or beyond.
  4. Annex of supporting documents (questionnaire responses)
  5. A 2-page summary of the report


  1. Successful Consultant will be appointed by 14 February 2019
  2. Thereafter the research project will be undertaken in a period of 60 days (2 months)


  • Ability to work with a diverse team
  • A recent similar body of work
  • Flexibility
  • Knowledge of global gender (Women leadership and participation) issues

Application and Criteria for Selection of Best Offer:

We invite interested suitable candidates to submit the following application documents:

  • CV showing educational/technical background and experience, and a list of similar assignments of individual/proposed team and their role
  • Short proposal outlining how you meet the criteria and particular value added that you bring in delivering this assignment
  • Technical proposal how you will deliver the assignment
  • Financial proposal with a clear indication of all-inclusive fee

Combined Scoring method will be used in the selection of consultant, where the Technical proposal (qualifications, experience and approach/methodology) will be weighted a max. of 70%, and combined with the price offer which will be weighted a max of 30%

Interested consultants should submit their applications to before 1st February 2020.