Monday, August 20, 2012

Gender imbalance in Politics

Despite Sri Lanka having a the world’s first Female Prime Minister and a female President who happened also to be the daughter of that Prime Minister, our Women’s representation in the political arena is pathetic.

I believe that in our Parliament, the primary legislative body, there are only 12 women from a total of 225 representatives, and 4 of them have been elected out of some past popularity such as either as film or teledrama actresses. It is therefore important that a law be brought in to provide for a minimum of female representation in all areas of Government, all tiers in fact as well as for youth representation.

It was interesting that I read an article today, where a Govt. committee tasked with this had suggested increasing representation to 30% and the women themselves had asked to reduce it to 10%. I know why the ladies wanted this reduced, as they feared the quality of the women who come up with a higher quota would suck, thereby giving the pioneers out there a bad name just because of the forced inclusion of under-qualified women. I do subscribe to that view point to some extent and believe that legislation should instead have a progressive change so that in 15 years it increases to a minimum of 25% from 10%, giving time to empower women into the political arena, an area they are reluctant to enter into unless there is a family connection or with a husband in the political arena from which to take over.

There is a consensus now that politics is dirty and one way of cleaning it up is by including women who are less likely to venture into the depths of today’s men especially the current UPFA Government’s henchmen who have shown the levels to which they disgraced themselves with no shame, as they have safety from prosecution from above.

It is important that legislation is brought into Parliament without delay so that the ball starts rolling and a new period of transition sets in. One can start this off from the next PS or local government elections and then gradually rise to the parliamentary elections. Unfortunately it is the males who will suffer from this initially and are less likely to pass the legislation if they look only at their future, but as it will be effective for Parliamentary elections after most are likely to have left the scene, there is a chance that it gets the attention it deserves sooner rather than later. 

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