24 June, 2024


Women In Sri Lanka Seek 25% Increase Of Women’s Political Representation

Women’s Groups in Sri Lanka have today urged all political parties to take necessary steps to increase the number of women in Parliament.

Issuing a statement following a consultation held on the 11th May on the draft 20th Amendment to the Constitution, the Women and Media Collective says; “taking into consideration that it is a sine qua non of good governance (yaha palanaya) that all citizens should be given equal access to political representation, regardless of gender, class, caste, ethnicity, and so on.”

Kumudini Samuel - the founder of Women and Media Collective

Kumudini Samuel – the founder of Women and Media Collective

We publish below the statement in full;

Political Representation of Women- Ensuring 25% Increase

Recommendations made by Women’s Groups in Sri Lanka to the 20th Amendment to the Constitution Currently under Discussion

Women in Sri Lanka have had the right to vote from as early as 1931, but very little opportunity to become the people’s elected political representatives-not in either Parliament or in Provincial or Local Government. This fact has been highlighted worldwide in official statistics, where the country rates shockingly low on the global index of women’s political representation, even in South Asia, Sri Lanka ranks 140 out of 153 in terms of female representation in Parliament.

Because of this lack of political representation, women’s interests and concerns are barely heard and exert little influence at any level of government. Key policy decisions, including legal reform, are made in critical areas such as security, economic development, reconciliation and democratization while barely consulting perspectives specific to women, 52 per cent of the population, and citizens who do not have the same perspectives as men do, because they do not enjoy the privileges that men have as men in Sri Lankan society. The lack of a strong representation of women in decision making positions is, without doubt, a major cause of gender blind policy making.

President Maithripala Sirisena echoed this concern in his 100 day Work Programme, proposing that legislation would be introduced to ensure at least 25% women’s representation in Provincial Councils and Local Government.

We, citizens and women concerned with democratic change, urge all political parties in Sri Lanka to take necessary steps to increase the number of women in Parliament, taking into consideration that it is a sine qua non of good governance (yaha palanaya) that all citizens should be given equal access to political representation, regardless of gender, class, caste, ethnicity, and so on.

We, women, voters and citizens, call on all political parties support the following provisions and include them in the 20th Amendment:

165 First Past the Post seats

Reserve seats for women : We ask that electorates that have a majority of women be designated only for women candidates or one electorate per district be allocated only to women candidates. This electorate can be selected on a rotating basis. This ensures that women will get 22 seats. Similar provisions have been made in India.
Mandatory reservations of 25% women, in nomination lists submitted by parties: this ensures that women are given the opportunity to contest the First Past the Post seats

District Proportional Representation List

Since this list is small and limited to 31 seats, each district may only have one or two appointments possible; in many instances this may be limited to one PR appointee per district. Therefore, there should be a mandatory appointment of a woman as the first candidate in the District PR list.

The National List

The national list has a limitation of a maximum number of 59 members, but this could go down to 37 in the event of seats being allocated from the overhang. Thus the demand is that every 2nd appointment from the National list be given to a woman. This will enable women to be appointed to at least 18 seats.

Multi Member Constituencies

Given the probability that some electorates may be designated as multi-member constituencies, a minimum of one woman candidate should be nominated to contest these seats.

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  • 9

    Kumudini Samuel – the founder of Women and Media Collective

    RE: Women In Sri Lanka Seek 25% Increase Of Women’s Political Representation

    “Women’s Groups in Sri Lanka have today urged all political parties to take necessary steps to increase the number of women in Parliament.”

    A very good topic. Why?

    1. Out of the 225 Members of Parliament, approximately 93 have NOT passed the GCE OL. That is 41.3%

    So, you can go on a platform, Replace Modayas, and go after each of those members, as the public to select women who have passed the GCE OL and passed Math.

    2. Some the ministers can’t do simple ,math. Example Wimal Buruwansa, 2/2 =0.

    3. Write the Common Sense Phample, Sri Lanka. Ask , why do you want to elect a Moda man, when you have the chance to elect a woman with common sense.

    Expose those Modayas, who take the People for Modayas.

    Mahinda rajapaksa worst lie ever told to Modayas, and the gulped it!


    • 1

      It is only fools like “Ambarasiri” who support such silly ideas.

      Look at what women in politics all over the world have done to their own countries and to the world.

      Margaret Thatcher ruined Britain, making the rich richer, and died an insignificant death without remembering anything. Hilary Clinton, though never in full power, destroyed the middle east and the world, Libya being her main sin.

      In India we had Indira Gandhi, a stupid egomaniac who flamed Prabhakaran’s terrorism in Sri Lanka. The South Indian harlet Jaylalith is not worth even mentioning.

      In our own country we had Sirima and Chandrika Bandaranayake. Both were incapable of administering a village tea boutique and got in to power only because of colonialist family connections. They ruined this country.

      And we want more of these? Let them manage families, at home.

      • 5


        “It is only fools like “Ambarasiri” who support such silly ideas.”
        ” Look at what women in politics all over the world have done to their own countries and to the world.”

        Interesting Hypothesis. Even a more intelligent women is less effective because of her sex. It is the same hypothesis of the Wahhabis. Why not research the IQ’s of Men and Women, and see if there is support for your hypothesis. The Key is competency.

        On any scale, Wimal Modawansa and Medamulana Mahinda Rajapaksa seem to have billions of neurons missing.

        So what have SWRD Bandaranaike, NM Perera, Colvin R de Silva, JR Jayawardena, VP, and Mahinda Rajapaksa given us? You will find Modayas, Mootals and Fools in both sexes.

        If, it is true for Margaret Thatcher, Srima, Chandrika, Gandhi, why is it not true for your mother as well? Is that the reason why one UPFA politician wanted to strip Chandrika and make her run naked?

    • 0

      It was Sunila Abeysekera who initiated the forming of Women & Media Collective

    • 1

      Kumudini Samuel – the founder of Women and Media Collective,

      For Your Information.

      Tawakkol Karman – Yemen, 2011


      Tawakkol Karman – Yemen, 2011

      Tawakkol Karman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 in recognition of her work in nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peacebuilding work in Yemen. Upon being awarded the prize, Tawakkol became the first Yemeni, the first Arab woman, and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, as well as the youngest Nobel Peace Laureate to date, at the age of 32.

      Karman is a mother of three as well as a human rights activist, journalist, politician, and senior member of the Al-Islah political party.

      Tawakkol was born in 1979 in Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city. She studied an undergraduate degree in Commerce from the University of Science and Technology in Sana’a before completing a graduate degree in Political Science from the University of Sana’a.

      Growing up in a politically tumultuous country, Tawakkol witnessed the unification of North and South Yemen in 1990, followed by a civil war between the two factions in 1994 in which the North triumphed over the South. The civil war led to dissidence in the South as the repressive Northern government assumed control over the country.

      A journalist by profession and human rights activist by nature, Tawakkol responded to the political instability and human rights abuses in Yemen by mobilizing others and reporting on injustices. In 2005, she founded the organization Women Journalists Without Chains, (WJWC) which advocates for rights and freedoms and provides media skills to journalists. In addition, the organization produces regular reports on human rights abuses in Yemen, documenting more than 50 cases of attacks and unfair sentences against newspapers and writers to date.

      In 2007, Tawakkol began organizing weekly protests in Yemen’s capitol, Sana’a, targeting systemic government repression and calling for inquiries into corruption and other forms of social and legal injustice. Tawakkol’s weekly protests continued until 2011, when she redirected protesters to support the Arab Spring. Tawakkol even brought Yemen’s revolution to New York speaking directly with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and organizing rallies at the UN headquarters.

      Bold and outspoken, Tawakkol has been imprisoned on a number of occasions for her pro-democracy, pro-human rights protests. Amongst Yemen’s opposition movement, she is known as “mother of the revolution” and “the iron woman.”

      Since receiving the award, Tawakkol has continued to support female journalists and rally Yemenis against government corruption and injustice. Fiercely committed to change, Tawakkol spends the majority of her time in a tent in Change Square, where she continues her peaceful protests for justice and freedom.

      Nobel Peace Prize
      Women Journalists Without Chains
      – See more at: http://nobelwomensinitiative.org/meet-the-laureates/tawakkol-karman/#sthash.8DIApgNC.dpuf

  • 7

    Bloody good.

  • 4

    In a progressive society, competence and ability should be the only criteria for any office or position. The women, who have fared well in our society,should come forward to claim their place in the sun. The biological constraints, are no barrier any more.

    Come out and compete for your share. We will be better for it. It should be your right and not a favour granted by men. However, do not become malish ( if there is such a word!) in the process. Cherish your femininity and give a woman’s caring touch to this island.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 2

      What do you mean by malish and keeping your femininity. Our mothers taught us women a particular kind of behaviour and I have quoted some below. These norms are considered feminine. These are patriarchal norms internalised by mothers
      – Do not raise your voice
      – Girls must be seen and not heard
      – Do not bang your footsteps on earth
      – Be obedient to males particularly husbands
      – Do not talk back
      – Do not go out for rallies as these are meant for men
      – Do not be among men in the evenings

      I don’t know whether you mean this kind of femininity. We cannot do politics with that kind of stuff. Both males and females must do politics without violence. Integrity and honesty should be the first principle to be followed by males and females. Avoiding thug and unruly behaviour is for both. Hammering each other with chairs and bottles are to be avoided by both.

      I always supported your comments in CT. But this?? Can the good doctor explain what his thinks is feminine and malish

      • 1

        Dear Maali K,

        I have mentioned caring and will now add giving, kind, tolerant and strong. I say strong because you outlive men and survive as embryos better than males. Males are modified females biologically. The template is the female. Males may have more brawn, but yet are weak. You can withstand stress and pain better, although you appear weak.

        You should have more than 50 % share of everything that this world has to offer, as the sex ratios at birth favour the female. You also survive longer. You are also physically more evolved than men!

        You are already giving the males a run of their lives in many spheres. However, do not forget that you are anatomically and physiologically different. You are designed differently, because of the fact that you have to bear children, care for them and raise them. Please bring these assets into play to have a greater edge over men.

        Without you we males (& of course females) cannot be born or survive. This is a biological and evolutionary imperative. Man the brute is yet instinctively the barbaric hunter. We love our mothers more than our fathers.

        All I am saying is: Do not try to become men, in order to compete with them. I would also say that modesty is an adornment on females. Do not throw it away and became brash, loud mouthed and vulgar in word and deed ,as men. Do not become drunkards and alcoholics like men.

        Our old grandmothers were not second to you in their endeavours although they were confined to their homes. read Robert KNox on the role of the female in the Kandyan Kingdom. Even today it is females who are the back bone of the war-destroyed society in the north and east !

        I have had in my lineage brave, courageous and forward looking ladies, who paved the way for what we are today. I am grateful to them much more than to my male ancestors.


      • 1


        The good doctor seems to have a naughty side too. While encouraging women to become emancipated, he doesn’t want them to cease to be sexually desirable for men. This is the coded message of his play with the words “malish,” and “femininity.” Come on doctor….there’s nothing wrong in feeling “that” way. Just spell it out.

        • 1

          Off the Wall,

          Thanks for the humour. However, as a reproductive biologist by training, I understand that attractiveness is the the first step in the reproductive dance. Pheromones, hormones that can be smelled, play a major role in this attraction. Humans have supplemented this with washing, soaps, perfumes, lipstick, jewellery, dress etc. the Male birds dance. These are biological imperatives that underline the urge to reproduce. The desire comes from the urge, which is rewarded by the associated pleasure. However, I was not implying in anyway the sexual angle. My emphasis was on women accepting their feminity and the culture ( refinement of mind, morals and taste that are unique to communities of people and have evolved with humans) that go with it and claiming their due place in the world. However, further evolution is imperative to meet the needs of the times and circumstances.


        • 1

          Off the wall,

          Incidentally, Siva who is worshipped by ‘Hindus’ is conceptualised as half male and half female. The male aspect is the form and female aspect is the motive power ( Sakthi). There cannot one without the other. One is not second to the other. Our ancients seem to have been more advanced in many matters than us.

    • 0

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran,

      …. competence and ability.

      I raked my head to discern the distinction between the two. (‘and’ is used for purposes of connecting two). I wasn’t successful.

      As my last resort, I looked up The Oxford Dictionary, UK.

      COMPETENCE: possession of required skill, knowledge, qualification, or capacity

      ABILITY: competence in an activity or occupation because of one’s skill, training, or other qualification

      You candidly add: However, do not become malish ( if there is such a word!) in the process.

      Why use hyperboles! What was that that you wanted to say? Was it, ‘However, do not become mulish (stubborn) in the process’.

      • 1


        For me competence is potential to perform and ability is to perform. I mean ‘ Malish’ and not mulish and why I did so is clear.


        • 0

          So, The Oxford Dictionary means little or nothing to you. You are mulish, indeed.

  • 5

    Kumudini Samuel

    I appreciate your effort to increase women’s representation in parliament to 25%. Eventually women should aspire for equality and that would mean demanding 50% representation. Like the parliament, another important arena in our lives is the bed. I’m waiting with bated breath for the day when the women of Sri Lanka would relinquish their false pretences and engage equally in the action in this department. I for one am willing to allow 100% participation to women in this regard. I’m all for women’s liberation, all the way.

  • 1

    Women are less corrupted and there are quite a few ladies who hold Phds and doctorates in various fields and they should be encouraged
    to enter the political field. As mothers, they accept more responsib
    -ilities than men but an age limit of 50 years should be set for them
    to contest an electorate as men of all shades are in the parliament
    who could pry on young women MPs. There were instances where young govt. teachers, who went for transfers etc.were harassed by MPs and ministers. Conservative India has many women in the parliament and
    cabinet and why not Sri Lanka?. The positions should be limited to
    ministerial levels and not beyond that as Israel’s Golda Meir, Margret
    Thatcher,Srimavo & her daughter CBK proved too tough and uncontrollable
    as PMs and President.

  • 1

    Off the wall.

    There must have been a reason or a very rational reason why a Male was called a Man and a female was called a WOMAN.

    100% Participation will lead to disaster of Mankind!

  • 0

    The need of the our is the quality of representation and not the proportion of gender representation.
    Look at the ladies in parliament they are no better than the quality of the guys in parliament. The Sri Lanka parliament has lost its integrity and turned into a house of scoundrels.
    Clean that up and young men and women of honor will join the process without doing that if you go into an direct or indirect quota system what you will get is a bunch of pretty faces living off the state funds with all the perks doing little or nothing to the public.

  • 0

    I wish women well. But look at this statement:

    Women and Media Collective says; “taking into consideration that it is a sine qua non of good governance (yaha palanaya) that all citizens should be given equal access to political representation, regardless of gender, class, caste, ethnicity, and so on.”

    There is no statement here. Taking all that into consideration, what? Please finish your statement. Till you do it is an empty nothing.

    I do not wish to speak for women but I think what was intended was to say simply:

    “It is a sine qua non of good governance (yaha palanaya) that all citizens should be given equal access to political representation, regardless of gender, class, caste, ethnicity, and so on.”

    Am I correct or was something else intended to be said?

  • 0

    I believe that we should do the necessary structural reforms that will increase women’s participation,than just to plonk for a quota system,

    What are the problems that are a barrier to women entering the parliament.Let us remove them and just sit back and see capable women entering parliament on full merit w/o the baggage of feeling that they owe their position to favouration and not capability.

    1.The electoral system.The PR system is better for women to enter parliament than the first past the post system.In a PR system there is multi member electorates.In a First past the post,a single member represents an electorate.That is why in western countries women are much more in the senate than in the house of representatives.When PR lists are filled the parties feel that they can include more women than when there is the single member system.

    Today the men are trying to dilute the Pr system because they may be under pressure to select women candidates because more women will put up their hands than is they had to represent an electorate completely on their own.When their is only one position the competition is intense,whereas the the PR ‘listing’system it is less.Same for any job,when they advertise for only one position we get disheartened to apply .whereas when we inquire and find that their are 3 or 4 positions available we are encouraged to apply and give our best shot.

    So women beware,the current electoral reforms proposed under the 20th amendment will work against you and you should stop it.

    2.The candidate selection processes of the political parties.

    These processes should be thoroughly reviewed preferably by a committee of women of the party,to see whether there are any discriminatory policies against women being selected as candidates.If there are these should be removed with amendments to the party constitution on selection procedures.half the population of srilanka are going to be women forever without disappearing in the future,so permanent measures are neede to safeguard the right of not only current women,but future generations too.It should not be today giving and tomorrow taking away.

    after doing this the party should take appropriate affirmative action programmes which would give women equal opportunity to take a greater role in the political process.

    3.cultural and social factors.

    Prevailing concepts of a woman’s traditional social roles,discourage women from standing as political candidates.They find it very difficult to juggle their work with the traditional roles of childcare and family responsibilities.They also will encounter prejudice that they won’t be good at economics and as a result lose votes.women also have poor access to established power networks.

    There should be some answers found for these type of problems faced by women.i don’t know whether the solution is to have house husbands.In western countries it is common to see men during the day taking and bringing back children from school and going to the supermarkets with them.You can see the children tearing the hair out of daddy who has a resigned look on his miserable face.

    4.the parliamentary environment.

    There should be family friendly reforms in the parliamentary environment,as i have highlighted some of the problems women face in my previous point no 3.Children should be allowed to be brought in by their mothers. when i say brought in,i mean they should be allowed to be in the chambers if they are very small and be with the mother.On site childcare facilities should be there,rooms for breast feeding(properly enclosed so that vermin like mervyn can’t substitute himself for the baby as he said once he would like to be a baby so that he can chomp on paba’s nipples),women to vote by proxies etc.

    also tugging the saree must be strictly prohibited as rosy as well as jayalalitha have experienced.Throwing drink bottles at women and masturbating looking at them etc should be censured by the speaker.

    one more important matter i wish to mention is the local governments.I maybe wrong but i believe they are called pradeshya sabhas in srilanka.This friday they are going to be dissolved and administered by somebody or other until the next election for them.Women must try hard to become members of this local government because it is a great career path to enter the parliament after that.Don’t miss the bus here.

  • 1

    Looks like once again some elite NGO women are trying to creep in without soiling their hands
    in real politics. How much have these groups spent for real political campaigns for women in party
    politics? This about coming from the bottom dear ladies and not from the top. Little bird tells me that
    some women are now queuing up for posts under RW/MS. They were also doing the same under MR.
    So why could they not shout like this then?

  • 1

    Kumudini Samuel has given her views on low political participation of women. She further says
    ” This fact has been highlighted worldwide in official statistics, where the country rates shockingly low on the global index of women’s political representation, even in South Asia, Sri Lanka ranks 140 out of 153 in terms of female representation in Parliament.” Also she gives reasons why it should be increased and how it should be increased.
    I would very much appreciate if the CT readers can tell us on a SERIOUS NOTE
    – arguments against increased women’s participation of women.
    – With literacy rate being high, why is that participation low.
    – What are the reasons for it.
    – Constitution says that affirmative action can be taken- What affirmative action can be taken
    – What are the electoral reforms you would suggest ie ifyou agree that women’s representation should increase.
    – Any other comments

    Thanks- Priyangika

  • 0

    it should be legistlatured. Fr4om District list a minimum of 25% should be chosen from each list inorder of votes.This means people who get more votes wont be elected but a minimum percentage is ensured. Otherwise it should be mandertory for parties to nominate a qouta of members such that women gain 25% trepresentation. as legistlatured in electrol reform.

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