Women’s equal participation in politics and their representation is recognized by the UN Convention on Eradication of all forms of Discriminations Against Women of which Sri Lanka is a signatory.
The law in Sri Lanka states that women enjoy equal opportunities and equal rights like men, yet it is argued that in practice the woman is only a second class citizen in the county. Opinions are being expressed that in a patriarchal society, the due position of the woman is denied under male dominated thinking and decision making. Rights of women are being discussed in programmes conducted on the International Women’s Day on March 8 of every year. But, surveys have demonstrated that attempts to improve knowledge, attitude and skills in women are minimal and they do not deliver any significant results.
Women’s representation in people’s representative bodies in current Sri Lanka is as follows.
- In Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka – 5.8%
- In the provincial councils – 0%
- In the local authorities – 1.9%
In this backdrop Election Commission is in the process of implementing a series of awareness programmes for representatives of political parties and women activists on the empowerment of women politically, amendments to the laws of local authorities elections, representation of women in local authorities and issues thereof.
Under these programmes the women activists all over the island, are educated on fundamental characteristics of democracy, universal franchise and amendments to the local authorities election law. Election Commission collaborates with election observer groups in organizing awareness programs for women, and at the district level all District Elections offices are conducting workshops inland wide to educate women on the electoral process, democracy, universal franchise and amendments to the local authorities election laws.
The quota system of 25% representation in local authorities and issues of women’s participation in politics are discussed at those workshops.