Increasing Women’s Representation in Politics
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Despite advancing in various spheres of life, women in Sri Lanka still remains behind their South Asian sisters in terms of political representation. Given the fact that Sri Lanka made world history by electing the first female head of state in 1960 and once again in 1994, Sri Lanka’s current track record of women’s political participation is inexcusable. Sri Lanka currently ranks 135th in the world on female representation in Parliament, with women holding a mere 5.8 percent of total seats. At the Provincial Council level, women hold 5 percent of seats, and in Local Authorities only 2 percent.
However, with the amendment made to the Local Government Act in 2015 ensuring 25 percent representation of women in local government, Sri Lanka has an ideal opportunity to promote women’s leadership within the broader values and principles of democracy, good governance and peace traditions.
Accordingly, political parties will get the opportunity to appoint female representatives based on the percentage of votes they receive at a Local Government election.
As a group that has lobbied over many years to increase the political representation of women, we are happy to see these developments. Therefore, in order to ensure the portion of seats allocated to women are apportioned fairly and effectively, we propose the adoption of following measures:
1. Conduct the 2017 elections according to the revised Local Government Act.
2. Give priority to politically active women within parties when selecting representatives for the 25% seats mandatory allocated for women.
3. Provide a significant amount of nominations for women to contest electoral divisions in addition to the 25% mandated above (in past local government elections, the percentage of nominations given to women has been as low as 6%).
4. Maintain transparency in the nomination process within political parties.
5. If elections are conducted according to the previous system, that political parties ensure 30% of nominations are allocated for women
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