1 October, 2020

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Political Power For Our Mothers, Wives, Daughters & Sisters

By Ratna Bala

Dr. Ratna Bala

I do not wish them (women) to have power over men; but over themselves” – Mary Wollstonecraft –(1759-1797)

First woman to have political power in the civilised world was Pharaoh Hatshepsut in Egypt around 1500 BCE. Her strong believe that she being a women still can be Pharaoh and effectively rule Egypt was unprecedented when this position of Pharaoh was strictly restricted to men. Many centuries later in the democratic world first women to have political power was Srimavo Bandaranaike in Sri Lanka. She transformed herself from being a ‘weeping widow’ to a strong leader of Sri Lanka. She was instrumental in forming ministry of children and women affairs. She played a leading role in the world as head of Non Aligned Movement. Since then no significant progress has been made to include more women in political power for them to constructively contribute in the future of Sri Lanka and promote gender equality.

In United Kingdom when women was treated as third class citizens many courageous women marched and fought courageously. Their struggle which started in 1872 as national movement with  many sacrifices won voting rights for women in 1928.This was celebrated as major achievement for women with political participation equal to men. Unfortunately due to social and cultural reasons their rights to vote and political participation could not progress any further to achieve equal political representation in parliament. Only in the last decade this transformation is taking place very slowly and reluctantly in many countries.

All over the world there are wider struggles against all forms of discrimination and demand for social justice, equality. Many different polarised views and associated emotional attachment  can be found on all forms of discriminations. But considerable amount of general consensus and significant positive atmosphere prevail to accommodate gender equality. Many countries are adopting affirmative programs to promote women to have political power in government and in executive roles in institutions. Recently in United Kingdom major study was conducted on gender equality in 350 big institutions. Their Hampton-Alexander report made strong recommendations to bridge the gap soon to improve gender balance

Countries which have gone through civil war and devastation have acknowledged neglect of women and decided to share power by including more women in parliament. Ruwanda which have seen the worst brutal civil war and have made major leap in gender equality and now have 61% female members in the parliament. World average for women parliamentarians is 24.3%. In Sri Lanka only 6% parliamentarians are women. Sri Lanka need a progressive fast tract programme to have more women in her parliament.

Sri Lanka has a greater obligation to women to give them equal political representation. Our mothers, wives, daughters and sisters pay a enormous contribution to our country’s economy. Foreign exchange income is earned mainly by women working in Middle East, women in textile industry and tea plantation. Important social services such as health care and education now rest mainly on women’s shoulders. All working women are making significant contribution to our government income tax revenue. But women do not have any substantial power in the government to make decisions on how that money is spent or promote proposals to alleviate problems faced by women and benefit their well being.

Srimavo Bandaranaike and few other women were able gain political power only when they became a widow of a male politician. Some may think this as magnanimity towards women. On the contrary, this actually shows how low we have fallen into with poverty of our appreciation of women and ignorance or indifference to injustice fallen upon more than half of our population. It is time to fix this fault line in the system. Then only we can stand tall and hold our head high in front of our mothers, wives, daughters and sisters. In the coming election few parliamentarians could step aside and let their wife or daughter to stand in their place to show their magnanimity and compassion towards women. 

What is the point of giving mother Sri Lanka a Democratic Socialist Republic title when our deeds let her down? In 21st century, if we are not capable of sharing political power equally with our mothers, wives, daughters and sisters, then we may not be able to do anything else good other than dwelling in deception and corruption. It is time to take resolute resolve to change course and make next parliament election as an opportunity give justice to our mothers, wives, daughters and sisters. 

It is time for Sri Lanka to come out of darkness to see the world in new light. It is time to give women their due share of the political power. Remedy for this injustice and facilitate utilisation of their enormous potential for the prosperity of our beautiful country. Many platforms in the world including UN are encouraging and promoting gender equality as mandatory prerequisite for sustainable development. 

Mother Sri Lanka can no longer afford or tolerate our blindness to equality in representation, and equal contribution by women in decision making in governance of her affairs. Without sharing political power equally with half of our population legitimacy of the government and morality of people holding on to power will remain very much below the standards expected from our religious believes too. 

Rise women rise! Demand your rightful place to share political power. Have your say in how is your taxed money is spent and how your needs are prioritised in government policies. In the past march women march campaigns won equal voting rights for participation in politics. Now you need a collective campaign by organised civil groups and influential individuals to gain equal representation in political power.

This is my humble appeal to influential people and leaders in our country. Please promote sharing political power equally to respect dignity of women. All religious leaders! Please give triple gem blessings for gender equality and equal power sharing for women. Together we can make a big difference for the happiness of our people and mother Sri Lanka. 

Happy international women’s day!

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Latest comments

  • 3
    0

    If it is a man or women is not the issue.
    We should have a person who does the job properly.
    We don’t wan’t women like Rosy Senanayake who has done nothing to clean up the city.

    The right person should be elected for the job irrespective of gender.

    • 0
      0

      True, Wimpy.
      .
      “In Sri Lanka only 6% parliamentarians are women. Sri Lanka need a progressive fast tract programme to have more women in her parliament”
      .
      Anyway, it’s an International women’s day piece, nothing more to say.

      • 0
        0

        Good women get corrupted by going to the Parliament.
        Flush all the corrup men and have 100% women then this country will propsper.

  • 3
    0

    What a drab women’s day presentation.
    .
    Not having gender equality is not the only bane the country is faced with. Our women cannot be considered a workforce in the true sense of the word. Women in the Middle East, textile and plantation are no better than slave labour.

    • 2
      1

      Shameless Sri Lanka Govenment
      should provide jobs for women in Sri Lanka
      instead of sending them off to middle east to work as Slaves.

      The huge social cost is beyound the meger earnings that they bring back. Husband becomes a drunkard , children are neglected and emotionaly scared. The women themselves are physically and mentally abused and when they return most of them are in a very fragile state.

      • 3
        3

        Citizen Silva

        “Shameless Sri Lanka Govenment should provide jobs for women in Sri Lanka
        instead of sending them off to middle east to work as Slaves.”

        Where is your pride in this 2500 years old Sinhala/Buddhist island populated by 2500 years old Sinhala/Buddhist people, and run by Sinhala/Buddhist government, under the leadership of Sinhala/Buddhists and the state manned by Sinhala/Buddhist paper shuffling dimwit, defended by Sinhala/Buddhist saffron brigade and the Sinhala/Buddhist armed forces, …………………… ?

        • 3
          2

          My Dear Vedda,
          We had a good taste of your Tamil government during the LTTE era
          The Sinhala Buddhist are 10 times better.
          The valiant Sri Lankan Military never used women and children as canon fodder and civilians as a human shield.
          The armed forces assisted the Tamil Civilians during the civil war.

          There was no food shortage in Jaffan because the government made sure of the food supply inspite of LTTE terrorism. The armed forces personnel risked their own lives and rescued the innocent Tamil Civilians.
          We are Proud of our Armed Forces , Army, Navy, Airforce, Police, Home guards. They are the best of the best.

          • 2
            2

            Citizen Silva

            “We had a good taste of your Tamil government during the LTTE era”

            Good taste of my Tamil government during the LTTE era.
            What are you talking about?
            This alone shows how stupid individually you are but collectively as well.

            “The Sinhala Buddhist are 10 times better.”

            Could we have a copy of your comparative study.

            “The valiant Sri Lankan Military never used women and children as canon fodder and civilians as a human shield.”

            The Rana-virus were hiding behind VP’s bum from IPKF.

            “The armed forces assisted the Tamil Civilians during the civil war.”

            True once and for all your Rana-virus finished many of them off helping them to attain Nibbana.

            “There was no food shortage in Jaffan because the government made sure of the food supply inspite of LTTE terrorism. “

            Being silly does not make you and your Sinhala/Buddhist Rana-viruses any better.

            “We are Proud of our Armed Forces , Army, Navy, Airforce, Police, Home guards. They are the best of the best.”

            Of course it is natural the war criminals Rana-viruses will have to congratulate themselves, patting on their own back regularly.

            People know what happened in April to August 1971, between 1987 and 1991 and over 30 year until 2015.
            Hence you deserve the best of the best war criminals, we saw deployment of Gotas goons Clashing with unarmed cricket fans at Sooriyawewa Stadium Even Namal Baby wanted immediate inquiry.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ag3GsWl3WWI

            • 0
              2

              Dear Native,

              Our Dalit Leader Doughie is also forming a Jana Bala Vegaya in Jaffna to contest against the TNA and and the Vellala CM Wigneswaram.

              Wonder who are in Doughies JBV ?…And how do you call it it Tamil, Native?..

              Is Samoathar going Solo in Trinco ?.
              Or is he with Bathudeen , Rauf Hakeem , Hesbolla and Assath Sally, his mates in the Yahapalanaya specially after last Easter..

      • 3
        0

        Citizen Silva,
        Majority of women who work in the Middle East are Sinhala Buddhist women. They work hard and earn much needed foreign exchange. ‘Para’ people use that money and import all kinds of junk and get rich. Politicians who have not earned a single Dollar use that money and import luxury vehicles without paying duty.

      • 2
        2

        Citizen Silva,

        “should provide jobs for women in Sri Lanka
        instead of sending them off to middle east to work as Slaves.”

        What you don’t seem to realize is that our govt to provide jobs to minimum OL qualified, our illiterate maids have to work for Arabs. Now don’t attack me for my name what I said, is pathetically true.

        • 2
          1

          Abdul,
          OL should not be a barrier
          Simply because they don’t have OL that dose’nt mean that they
          don’t have brains.
          They could be trained. The government has to invest in them.

          Or else we have to get foreign investment so that our valuable human resources could be utilised within Sri Lanka.

          One of the key performance indicators for the next government should be to stop Sending House Maides to Middle East within 2 years in government.

          By the way Abdul are you the person that runs the House Maid Agency in Maradana?

  • 2
    2

    Vedda,
    “What are you talking abou? “

    Don’t try to be aThoththa baba you cannot fool all the people all the time.

    We can play Cricket thanks to Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksha if Ranil ?Sajith combo was in power Zaharan / LTTE will BOMB all the fans armed or unarmed.

    • 1
      1

      Citizen Silva

      What the hell are you talking about?

      “We can play Cricket thanks to Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksha if Ranil ?”

      Did Gota introduce cricket to this island?
      FYI Ceylon played world class cricket in 1920s.

  • 1
    0

    Citizen Silva

    What the hell are you talking about?

    “We can play Cricket thanks to Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksha if Ranil ?”

    Did Gota introduce cricket to this island?
    FYI Ceylon played world class cricket in 1920s.

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