South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Electoral reforms have become the hottest topic in debate at present. Despite the various promises the good governance regime has granted or is willing to, there are certain shortcomings in this new initiative. Women’s rights have been an issue that has needed consistent attention from those in power. 

Although many women’s rights activists and organizations worked in favour of the good governance concept with some new hope, a question remains as to whether their voices have been heard. 

Following is an insight of the memo which was drafted by two lawyers and rights activists Dr. Nimalka Fernando and Shamila Daluwatte on behalf of the  Women’s Political Academy and the International Movement against all forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR).

Highlights of the memo
This memo has been developed after several consultations with various women’s groups, organizations and political activists. Its main aim is to strengthen women’s political participation while requesting the new government to observe national and international commitments to women’s rights and to promote women’s political rights in line with pledge number 14 given by the government in ‘A new Sri Lanka for Women’ and pledge number 30 of the 100 days programme. 

The memo aims to :

Electoral Reforms
As mentioned at the beginning, electoral reforms have become a major area of concern with regard to the new constitution. This memo in Women’s Political Participation and Decision-Making with regard to Electoral reforms too touches on this topic. In this section the memo recommends to :

Public Appointments
In terms of public appointments, women don’t get much attention. It is quite common to see male-dominated institutions which often exercise biased decisions. Women should be involved at decision-making level and it is a key component in gender equality. As such the memo urges to :

Political Parties
Why women are not given leadership positions is another question that should be raised. Other than the two occasions in which Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Chandrika Kumarathunge were appointed to ruling positions, there has been less to none occasions to celebrate women in power. Realizing this as another vital component in women’s participation, the memo requests to :

Shamila Daluwatte (BA, Political Science) and Dr. Nimalka Fernando, both lawyers representing women’s voices in the legal field drafted this memo on behalf of the Women’s Political Academy to be considered by all political parties along with the guidance of the President, the Prime Minister, and the Cabinet.

Women comprise of 52 percent of the population and 56 percent of voters in Sri Lanka. Therefore, the new government should include constitutional provisions to reserve a 25-30 percent quota for women in local government elections as promised by the Presidential Manifesto Article 14 of the “New Sri Lanka for Women” and the Article 30 of the 100 Days Programme. 

In addition, the National Action Plan for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights section 5(1) states that thirty percent (30%) minimum representation of women in Parliament, Provincial Councils, and local authorities should be included. Taking these pledges and promises into account, women’s rights groups vehemently urge the new government to take women’s rights seriously and give prominence to women’s political rights by including 25 percent quota for women in local government bodies by bringing changes to the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution with immediate effect.  – See more at:

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