Where are the women in Local Government?

Despite an extremely favourable Human Development Index (HDI) for women, women’s representation in elected political bodies in Sri Lanka is abysmally low. It is 5.8% in parliament, 4.1% in provincial councils and only 1.8% in local government. Nominations for women by the major political parties have remained almost stagnant in the last 50 years and even after Sri Lanka switched to elections based on proportional representation (PR) in 1989. Although, there are many women leaders at the
community level they are marginalized and ignored when it comes to nominations. Women’s organizations have used many strategies to increase representation in the last 10 — 15 years including through independent women’s lists and advocacy for a legal quota for women. However in a culture which is based on patronage politics, independent lists have so far not succeeded. A legal quota has also not been implemented. Therefore if women’s representations in local councils are to be increased, the major political parties must be pressured to give more nominations to women, while at the same time raising public awareness about the problem of under representation of women at local level.

It also seeks to raise awareness about the issue of under-representation of women at local level as well as the importance of having women’s representation in local
councils at the community level.