Call to increase female representation in Parliament | Sunday Observer

Call to increase female representation in Parliament

Women Parliamentarians on Thursday (February 20) called upon all Party Leaders to give nominations to more women at the upcoming General Elections to increase the female representation in the next Parliament.

The women MPs convening a joint media conference at the parliamentary complex appealed to the voters particularly the womenfolk to give one preferential vote out of the three to any female candidate contesting a seat in the district irrespective of party differences.

The women MPs said electing suitable female representatives to Parliament at the forthcoming General Election would help make policy decisions in the interest of women and children.

The MPs called upon Party Leaders to consider allocating at least 30 percent space for women in the nomination lists for each district and provide 50 percent reservation for women from the National List.

UPFA Monaragala District Parliamentarian Sumedha G. Jayasena said that it is regrettable that there are only 12 female Parliamentarians in the current Parliament which is only five percent of the 225 Parliamentarians.

She said this has become a major obstacle in making policy decisions, especially for women and children to improve their lot.

The veteran female Parliamentarian Jayasena who has represented Parliament for over 30 years, said irrespective of party differences the representation of women in Parliament and other local government institutions should be increased. She said currently female representation in Local Government institutions is around 22 percent and added that Party Leaders should focus on more female candidates for Local Government, Provincial Council and Parliament representation.

UNP Matale District Parliamentarian Rohini Kumari Wijeratne said the current Parliament consists of 12 female MPs and as a percentage this is 5.3 percent of the total MPs. Therefore, steps should be taken to elect more women representatives to Parliament at the upcoming General Election. Sri Lanka has the lowest women representation in politics compared to other countries in Asia, she said.

MP Wijeratne said 52 percent of the Sri Lankan population is women and 56 percent of the voters are women.

She said within the first two weeks of this year, 142 rape cases, 42 serious sexual abuses and 54 child abuses had been reported.

“ We have raised these matters again and again, but our voice is not loud enough,” she said.

She further said it is a challenge for a woman to contest under the present electoral system and get elected to Parliament as women cannot engage freely in distributing money, liquor and other items which are the tactics that male candidates use to garner votes.

“I also faced the same difficulty in 2015 and it was not that easy to secure nomination from my party. We should educate the public on the need to increase female representation in Parliament.”

UPFA Gampaha District Parliamentarian Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle said all 12 female MPs in Parliament today are professionals and there is no allegation of corruption or fraud against any of them.

“However, we have a long way to go to achieve recognition, respect and dignity for women in politics. Often female MPs are overlooked when granting positions,” she said. UNP Kegalle District MP Dr Thusitha Wijemanna said during the past four and half years female MPs had initiated progressive legislation pertaining to women, children and education at Sectoral Oversight Committees.