Women candidates neglected in polls campaigns - CaFFE | Sunday Observer

Women candidates neglected in polls campaigns - CaFFE

7 January, 2018

Although the allocation of a 25 percent quota for women to contest future polls that came into operation in the run up to the February 10 local government polls has been lauded as an affirmative move in keeping with global trends, it has many shortcomings, including discrimination against women in campaigns and interactions with the electors, according to some candidates and political observers.

Keerthi Tennakoon, Executive Director of the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) told the Sunday Observer that they toured the Southern, Uva and Eastern Provinces last week to observe the general trend and found that women candidates were being neglected in the campaigns.

Such a tendency would even lead to the defeat of the respective political parties, he said. The women should have the support and encouragement of their political parties and the running male candidates, Tennakoon said.

Dr.Selvy Thiruchandran, member of the Right to Information Commission (RTI) and former Executive Director of the Women’s Education and Research Center (WERC) said, the quota system for women candidates is an affirmative move that paves the way for more women in political decision making positions.

Political parties should help women candidates and have a coordinated activity plan for promoting women candidates, she said.

If they nominated blood relatives, such as wives, sisters or sisters-in-law, the whole objective of introducing the quota system is lost she said, adding that candidates should be selected on the basis of the right criterion for the uplift of the community and quality life in the electorate.

Sithi Sabeena Musaffer , a seasoned political leader at local government level and now contesting the Hambantota Municipal Council (MC) on the UPFA ticket said, there has been discrimination from the very beginning. It is the Ministers and parliamentarians who insisted on the 25 percent quota for women, and now they are bent on nominating and supporting their relatives.

They prepared the nomination lists at the very last minute. She has been very much discouraged and this kind of attitude should change in the best interests of the electorate, she said. Alexandrina Sylaja Alexander contesting the Kotagala Pradeshiya Sabha as the candidate of the Tamil Progressive Front (TPF) on the ‘elephant’ symbol said, she anticipated more cooperation and support from the male candidates .

She is a self-employment instructor among the plantation community and since she is contesting the polls for the first time she needed support and encouragement. Women’s leadership concept and the welfare of women in the electorate should be given prominence, she said.

She said, she has been a member of the Upcountry People’s Front (UPF), which is a constituent of the TPF, for some years and wanted to thank party leader and State Minister V. Radhakrishnan for nominating her as the candidate to contest the polls.

Sinthujah Thirumaran is contesting the Batticaloa Municipal Council on the TNA’s ‘house’ symbol.

Although there are no problems or any discrimination within the party, she has noticed that the women folk generally disliked a woman contesting the elections, and their thinking appeared to be that it is a man’s job.

Awareness among the women on women’s leadership and the necessity on their political participation should be promoted, Sinthujah said.