Law needed to increase women’s representation - Rohini Kumari Wijerathna | Sunday Observer
Parliamentary Elections

Law needed to increase women’s representation - Rohini Kumari Wijerathna

Legal provision should be made to increase women’s representation in Parliament, said Matale district Samagi Jana Balawegaya candidate and former Parliamentarian Rohini Kumari Wijerathna in an interview with the Sunday Observer.

Excerpts:

Q. The purpose of a General Election for a political party is winning a Parliament majority and forming a Government. But many claim that the UNP and the SJB are contesting to win Sirikotha, the UNP headquarters. Is that true?

I do not have any intention to grab power at Sirikotha. We must focus on standing together with the people.

We developed the whole concept of General Elections to a level where it is not just one party that gets the governing power. People must rethink why we send representatives to Parliament. We must end the era where people elect representatives based on cheap giveaways, such as bottles of liquor. If we could convince people to send good legislators to Parliament instead of party politics, we can develop the country soon.

Q. Are Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sajith Premadasa contesting the General Election from the Colombo district to demonstrate their individual strengths based on the number of preferential votes?

A: The late President R. Premadasa contested from the Colombo district throughout his political career.

When Sajith Premadasa entered politics, he did not have his father or anybody to take him on to the stage. He chose Hambantota to serve the people. Now, he has returned to the electorate where his father used to contest.

The fact that who receives more preferential votes is not the problem we have.

The UNP and the SJB are not rivals. The common rival is the Government. We should try our best to defeat the Government. We must avoid them receiving a 2/3 majority.

Q. Do you think the General Election should be postponed again if the Covid-19 situation escalates?

A: First, we need to ensure national security. National security is not just military power. Sanitation is also a part of national security. When Sajith Premadasa and Ranil Wickremesinghe talked about Covid-19 in Parliament, the Government took it lightly.

I do not mind postponing the election. But the Government does not want to do so. The postponement is a disadvantage to the Government.

Q. What are the impediments and challenges that prevent more women coming into politics?

A: It is difficult for women to do politics in the prevailing system. There are candidates who distribute liquor to attract supporters. But can I do that? As a woman, as a mother, I cannot get involved in such activities. When we are doing an election campaign in a district, a large sum of money needs to be spent. But as we have proven our capabilities, it helps us compete with others.

Women do not want to enter politics. I prefer if we could bring a quota for women in Parliament. There are many areas where we need to secure justice for women. We need women representation to do such changes.

Legal provision should be made to increase women representation in Parliament.

Countries, such as Nepal and Afghanistan have a greater representation of women in their legislatures.

Q. What is your idea of nepotism in politics?

A: I entered politics in 2015 because people encouraged me to do so. People voted me considering I am the granddaughter of former MP Muthu Banda, daughter of former Minister Wijerathna Banda, son-in law of former MP P.B. Kavirathna and wife of former MP Sanjeewa Kaviratne.

But in 2020, I have no right to ask for votes highlighting my political background.

People must see me as Rohini. Voters must consider whether Rohini did justice to their votes last time. If so, they can re-elect me to Parliament.

I am happy that I could do a lot during the past four and a half years as a parliamentarian. I pioneered in establishing the ‘Teacher Advisors Service’.

Q. You said that a large amount of money is needed for political campaigns. What is your budget for this election?

A: I have not earned a penny from shady deals in politics. I was a teacher before entering politics. I sold a vehicle to find money for the election campaign. My election budget is less than Rs 5 million.

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