June 2023
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Women in Politics: Monitoring Online Violence against Candidates for President based on Gender

Women in Politics: Monitoring Online Violence against Candidates for President based on Gender

IFES is an independent, non-governmental organization (NGO) with headquarters registered in the United States of America. IFES supports citizens’ rights to participate in free and fair elections. The “Violence Against Women in Elections Online” tool analyzes publicly available social media data to identify direct threats and abusive and violent rhetoric surrounding womens political participation. The tool examines the content intensity, volume and speed of harmful cyber-discourse to halt hateful commentary in its tracks by sharing analysis with law enforcement, public service responders and other actors. The VAWE-Online project is supported by funding from USAID and UKAID. Data analysis is performed by the Ukraine Marketing Association.


On March 31 during election day in Ukraine, the Ukraine Marketing Association analyzed Facebook content posted from 7:00 to 24:00. During this period, 510Facebook comments containingviolent content against Ukrainian presidential candidates.were identified. 200 such comments are addressed to female candidates.

During election day,. almost all candidates examined in the study posted photos and videosfrom their respective polling stations. Throughout the comment sections of these photos, positive sentiments prevailed(94%). Negative comments were primarily left under posts where allegations of fraud had been reported.After the exit poll resultswere announced, Facebook exploded with violent content in relation tocandidateswhopreviouslypassedtothesecondround

Translation: Clowns chose a clown. Translation: This puppet will give you cancer.

, According to the exit poll, female presidential candidates won 14.2%, 0.3%, 0.1%, and 0.1% of the vote and respectively ranked 3rd, 12th, 17th and 29th in the list of candidates. All femalecandidates publicly expressed their satisfaction with the election results either verbally or via social media. It is interesting to note that even candidates who received violent online comments and direct threatsthroughout the entire pre-election periodreceived exclusively positive comments and congratulations on the actual day of the election. Everyone, except for the woman candidate who gained the most votes and closely approached the leaders of the race. Online users also reacted to the candidate's decision to refuse to accept the preliminary results of the exit polls, and to spend the night near the polling stations and arrange a rally near the Central Election Commission. This is the only candidate who received an equal number of negative and positive comments during this election campaign period.

The following topics prevail among the negative comments: premature announcement of the results; harassment of losing candidates; insults concerning the age and gender of the candidate; proposals to retire from politics.