Last week International Alert, in collaboration with the South Asia Policy and Research Institute (SAPRI), held a discussion on increasing women’s participation in political institutions in Sri Lanka.
The event, which was held in Colombo on 21 May, built upon the recommendations of a working paper and two earlier workshops held on this theme and focused on how other countries have progressed on the matter of female under-representation in politics.
While our previous debates had focused on the views of those within the country, this event aimed to harness experience from outside Sri Lanka. Attendees therefore included representatives of the embassies and high commissions of Canada, the European Union, India, Japan, Romania, South Africa and the United States.
Alert Sri Lanka’s Project Manager Amjad Saleem and SAPRI’s Director Geetha de Silva opened the discussion, focusing on the outcomes and recommendations of the previous workshops and discussions.
The diplomats around the table then expressed their views on the topic, citing examples form their own countries and personal experiences. A common consensus was reached that the issue of minimal female representation in politics is not a situation unique to Sri Lanka, but across the globe, with socio-cultural perceptions seemingly the number one factor hindering women from entering politics.
Based on the discussion, it was felt that Sri Lanka could learn from both the negative and positive experiences of other countries on this issue.
It was a comprehensive and fruitful discussion that shared views that will be useful in informing the next stages of the project.