By Sumaiya Rizvi and Lumbini Karandana

The Women and Media collective, an NGO promoting women’s rights requested female voters at the upcoming local government election to cast at least one preference vote to a woman candidate.

A total of 25 women candidates were nominated from the main political parties for the local Government elections from five districts after some of the NGO’s for good governance and women’s representation campaigned and lobbied for them, Women and Media Collective Director Kumudini Samuel said at a ceremony held at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel.

“All of these women faced a lot of hardships in the nomination race and a large number of them were rejected,” Ms. Samuel said.

These NGOs on behalf of these women approached the political parties of the candidate’s choice lobbying them to include them in the nomination list, she said.

“We ask the women population of the country to cast at least one of their preferences for a woman,” Samuel said. According to Samuel only 1.8 % of the women are represented in the local government.

The United National Party (UNP) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) were the most responsive while the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress said that it was against the religion to have women in politics, Ms. Samuel said.

“We have got more than 6000 signatures in a petition from the public from the Trincomalee District supporting women entering into politics and we even got a letter from the Islamic cleric attesting that women can enter politics to prove a point to the SLMC,” Ms. Samuel said.

Meanwhile, many women who got nominated and who did not get nominated spoke at the event.

“I have contested and won with the TNA last time but they refused to nominate me this time since I was the first person in the Trincomalee district to show that even the local councils can build a concrete road,” a candidate from the Trincomalee district Bavani Krishnamoorthy said.

“I thought that women can help without entering into politics but when I was engaging in my community work I realized the trouble and time we spent going behind the local council members for their approval,” a candidate from the Trincomalee district Naleema Rifaydeen said.

Source: The Daily Mirror – 12.02.2011