Effectiveness of Donor Support to Women in Formal Political Leadership – Narrative Review

This narrative review synthesises a selection of evidence based on a rapid literature review


Domestic and external pressures to increase the number of women in formal politics have started to bear fruit over the past 20 years. Overall, this has led to a greater presence of women in elected, appointed, and recruited positions in public bodies, and to their rise to senior positions in these settings, to a lesser extent. A significant amount of rigorous research has analysed women’s access to these positions, the constraints and enablers they experience once there, and their political action in office. Within this literature however, rigorous evidence is scarce and patchy when the focus turns to analysing support that external aid actors have provided women leaders in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This narrative review synthesises a selection of key evidence based on a rapid literature review (it is therefore subject to limitations).

An executive summary of the report is available

K4D helpdesk reports provide summaries of current research, evidence and lessons learned. This report was commissioned by the UK Department for International Development.


Combaz, É. (2018) Effectiveness of donor support to women in formal political leadership – Narrative review. K4D Helpdesk Report 426. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.

Published 2 November 2018