ECONOMYNEXT – Dr Sudarshini Fernandopulle has been unanimously elected as the Chairperson of the tiny Women Parliamentarians Caucus an announcement from Parliament said.
Currently, State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Fernandopulle is a medical doctor who was first elected to Parliament in 2010.
She was elected as the MP for Katana after her husband Jeyaraj, the former MP, was assassinated in 2008.
Freshman Parliamentarian and Viyathmaga National List nominee Dr Seetha Arambepola and Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya MP Rohini Wijerathne Kaviratne are the Deputies in the caucus which has just 12 members in the 225 strong House.
Arambepola is the State Minister of Skills Development, Vocational Education, Research and Innovation.
MPs Thalatha Athukorala, Dr Harini Amarasuriya, Diana Gamage, Kokila Gunawardena and Manjula Dissanayake were also present at the meeting.
The women MPs “discussed steps which need to be taken in order to increase the representation of women in Parliament as well as in the context of Sri Lankan politics as a whole,” the announcement said.
The MPs agreed that a program should be launched in order to educate society to change Sri Lankans attitude towards women in politics.
Despite efforts at the Local Government level to increase women’s participation by introducing a mandatory quota of 25pct women candidates, Parliament has just over 5pct of women members.
Sri Lanka has the lowest rate of women’s participation in Parliament in South Asia while Nepal with over 30pct has the highest number according to the Asia Foundation. ( Colombo, December 14, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana