Nicaragua ranks as one of the most gender-equal countries in the world, with nearly 50 percent women in its parliament. However, barriers to women’s participation continue to persist.



Nicaragua ranks as one of the most gender-equal countries in the world, with nearly 50 percent women in its parliament. However, barriers to women’s participation continue to persist.

Nicaragua National Election 2016

2016 National Elections

As Nicaragua’s national elections moved forward in 2016, CSOs continued to monitor the electoral process for transparency and equity.

The group Etica y Transparencia, as part of Panorama Electoral (a consortium of Nicaraguan organizations), undertook a non-partisan independent observation throughout the election period. Despite a lack of access to some key processes (such as the vote count and tabulation of results), observers reported on the general electoral environment, and few reported witnessing or hearing reports of violence against women at any point during the election.

Before the Election

Panorama Electoral deployed observers in over 150 municipalities during the three months before the day of elections. These observers reported back regularly on pre-election activities by electoral institutions and political parties. While few incidents of violence were reported by observers, Panorama Electoral did note and report on a gender bias in events and the composition of local electoral boards throughout the pre-electoral period.

Nicaragua Appointment of Supreme Electoral Council Authority

In Nicaragua's 2016 election, the national-level Supreme Electoral Council had the ability to place auxiliary personnel as members of municipal-level electoral councils directly. As this graph shows, in municipalities where such authorities were placed, they were largely men, with observers in 37% of the municipalities reporting that male authorities were put in place, whereas only 19% reported that women authorities were placed in the municipality. The remaining 44% of observers reported that no authority was placed in that municipality.

Nicaragua Pre-Election Sexualization of Women

During the pre-election period, observers looked for and reported on incidents of sexual exhibition of women. This included the exhibition of women in sexual ways to draw attention to campaign or political party events. This graph shows the average percentage of municipalities in which observers reported seeing ("Yes") or not seeing ("No") this kind of sexualization of the female form in different parties'campaign activities. 

Election Day

On election day, Panorama Electoral deployed observers proportionately throughout the country to monitor the electoral processes and general environment -- including any incidents of violence.

Nicaragua Election Day Critical Incidents by Type of Incident

While Election Day in Nicaragua was peaceful overall, there were 211 confirmed critical incidents reported by observers. Of these incidents, only 20% in total were reported to be violent, as seen in this chart. These incidents, in turn, were nearly all incidents of intimidation, threats or bullying, with only 2% of all reported incidents characterized by physical violence.

Nicaragua Election Day Critical Incidents, Victim by Affiliation

Of the reported incidents on election day, victims were primarily voters: in 36% of reported incidents, observers indicated that voters were the victims of incidents. However, a significant percentage of incidents were reported with no clear affiliation or role for the victim. Members of civil society were also more frequently targeted, with 19% of reported incidents affecting them. 

Nicaragua Election Day Critical Incidents (Physical Violence) by Perpetrator

In the few reported incidents of physical violence on election day, the perpetrators were overwhelmingly reported by observers to be men. In 80% of reported incidents of physical violence, perpetrators were male, while female perpetrators were reported in only 20%.

Nicaragua Election Day Critical Incidents (Threats and Coercion) by Victim

Of the incidents of intimidation, threats and bullying that were reported by observers on election day, 54% involved both male and female victims. In reported incidents where only one gender was reported, slightly more men were attacked than women. 

About the Observation

Panorama Electoral deployed observers in 152 municipalities during the three months leading up to election day. On election day itself, 650 observers were deployed, including 158 municipal and district coordinators, as well as 492 short-term observers deployed in a proportional manner throughout all municipalities of the country.

Nicaragua Gender Breakdown of Observers

When designing their observation methodology and recruiting observers, Panorama Electoral placed a high priority on ensuring there was a gender balance in their observers. As the graph below shows, they were able to meet that goal: their full complement of observers, from both pre-election and election day observation periods, showed even representation of men and women. 

For more information about this observation, check out the reports from Panorama Electoral, available here in Spanish and English.

NDI Gender, Women and Democracy logo

Electoral violence undermines democratic elections, which are a cornerstone of democratic governance. Violence against women in elections is a particular form of electoral violence, motivated by a desire to prevent women from participating in the electoral process, which sees women attacked for daring to participate in elections. Learn More About Votes Without Violence