Text and Pix by P.D. De Silva
Over 100 females who were either former members of local government institutions, had been candidates at a local government election or were leaders of civil society organisations capable of contesting the forthcoming local government elections in the Southern Province aired their woes and challenges faced in entering the local political arena at a workshop convened by the Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government (MPC&LG) and the Sri Lanka Institute of Local Governance (SLILC).
The panel of resource persons comprising Professor Kamala Liyanage of the Department of Political Science of the University of Peradeniya, Ministry of Provincial Councils Legal Officer Gayani Premathilake, former Northwestern Provincial Councilor Upulangani Malagamuwa and University of Peradeniya Senior Lecturer Shobana Rajendra discussed the challenges women face when engaging in politics.
With the amendments to the Local Government Elections Act it is expected that 2,206 female councillors (i.e. 25% of the total number of councillors) will be nominated to sit in the 336 local government institutions in the near future.
Of the many challenges named by the participants the most common were financial restraints, unsupportiveness of party organisers and district organisers and nominations being handed out to family and relatives of Parliamentarians.
Although Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Faiszer Mustafa and Chief Minister of the Southern Province Shan Wijelal de Silva were to attend the opening sessions, it was announced that the Minister was engaged in making corrections to the report of the Delimitation Committee reviewing the demarcation of electoral boundaries in local government wards while the Chief Minister was abroad.