Send more women to next Parliament – MPs

GENDER REPRESENTATION – Women MPs want more of their gender in the House/Parliament Handout

ECONOMYNEXT – The women Members of Parliament are appealing to voters at the upcoming Parliamentary General elections to send more women to the House in order that there is more protection for Women and Children in the country.

There are only 12 Women MPs in the current House and that constitutes only 5 per cent of MPs.

Such a small number of women means that formulating policies concerning Women and Children is an issue, these MPs said.

They pointed out that in the first two weeks of this year alone Police had reported 142 rapes, 42 cases of serious sexual assault and 54 cases of child rape. “We need to formulate more robust laws to better protect women and children and for that we need more representation,” these MPs said.

MP Thusitha Wijemanne pointed out that women MPs had contributed in a significant manner during the term of this Parliament.

“We have worked on making 18-years the legal age to marry, prevention of child marriage, the removal of the column stating whether the parents of a child are married in the birth certificate and the equitable distribution of property among daughters and sons,” she said.

These women MPs said although women are highly educated, they have no place at the table where policy-making is taking place, she added.

The MPs collectively said that at least one woman MP per electoral district should be in Parliament.

They pointed to the system introduced at the Local Government level where there was a 20 percent quota for women representation.

They urged the leaders of the political parties to ensure that a sufficient number of women are given nominations at the next general elections.

Among the barriers that have been erected for women is the way electioneering is being conducted, MP Rohini Wijeratne said. “The distribution of free liquor and various other goods to supporters makes it difficult for us,” she said.

The MPs participating in the Media conference were Sumedha Jayasena, Sudarshini Fernandopulle, Thusitha Wijemanne, Shriani Wijewickreme, Rohini Kumari Wijeratne, Vijayakala Maheshwaran, and Hirunika Premachandra. (Colombo, February 21, 2020)

-Arjuna Ranawana