The National People’s Power led by the leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has fielded the most number of female candidates out of all the main political parties for the upcoming election according to manthri.lk, a website that profiles the actions and activities of each of the 225 Members of Parliament.
Accordingly, the NPP has fielded 16 female candidates. The United National Party, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and the Samagi Jana Balawegaya have fielded 15, 14 and 10 candidates respectively. The Tamil National Alliance has fielded four.
According to the global rankings of female representation in parliament, Sri Lanka ranks a dismal 182 out of 193 countries. In the previous parliament, only 5 percent of the 225 members were women.
Matara district candidate of the NPP, Saroja Paulraj said the NPP has given women the chance to come forward to contest, and this opportunity was given without any fear or favor.
“In Sri Lanka, 52 percent of the population comprises women. However, within all other political parties’ female representation is merely a farce. But the JVP over the years and now the NPP have always tried their best to give opportunities to women” she said.
According to her the JVP, the Women for Rights organization, and several other women’s groups formed the Progressive Women’s Collective which is now a part of the NPP.
“Through this collective, we identified women from various backgrounds and fields who are capable but would not be given the opportunity through another political party to contest as they are not affluent or come from influential political families,” she said.
Paulraj noted that in Sri Lankan politics, women have always been used as a decoration or ornament on election stages. “In Parliament, only around five percent out of the MPs elected are women, which amounts to around 12 seats in the House.
“Even out of these in the last two decades, most female MPs stayed silent in the backbenches and left parliament politics also silently. If any female MP did speak up it was either to make a political joke or if she did attempt to speak about something that matters those in parliament and the public treated her like a joke. Therefore there has not been female representation of quality in parliament in recent times.” Paulraj noted.
According to her, leading male politicians are able to trick women by providing petty promises regarding a plethora of issues that affect women. “If women had proper and quality representation in Parliament, they would not be able to do this” she stressed.