The Sri Lankan parliament on Wednesday passed the Provincial Councils Elections (Amendment) Bill to give 25% reservation for women in the Provincial Councils in the country, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, M.A.Sumanthiran said.
Currently, women’s representation in the nine provincial councils is only 4.1%, although women are 51% of the Sri Lankan electorate, and Sri Lanka has had Universal Adult Suffrage since 1932.
Women’s representation is no better in the other elected bodies. It is 5.7% in the national parliament and 1.8% in the local bodies like Pradeshiya Sabhas, Urban Councils and Municipalities.
This, despite the fact that Sri Lanka boasts of having given the world its first woman Prime Minister Mrs.Sirimavo Bandaranaike. Her daughter Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, who was twice elected as Executive President, holds the record of winning a Presidential election by a majority of 60%.
There is yet no law to reserve seats for women in the country’s parliament.
According to the Provincial Council Elections bill, passed by two thirds majority in parliament, the occupation of 25% of the seat is to be ensured by the political parties as well as the Elections Commission, Sumanthiran said.
To get a sufficient number of women elected, political parties will have to see that they put up at least 10% of women in their lists of candidates for constituencies which come under the First Past the Post System and 50% of the candidates for seats which come under the Proportional Representation System.
In case, sufficient number of women do not get elected under the First Past the Post System, the Elections Commission would see that the number is made up in seats which comes under the Proportional Representation System.
To fill seats which come under the Proportional Representation System, parties put up a list for each district. Seats are allocated on the basis of votes that each party list gets.
In any Provincial Council, 60% of the seats will come under the First Past the Post System and 40% under the Proportional Representation System.
The Proportional Representation System has been retained to give representation for small parties which cannot get through under the First Past the Post system.
Since from now on Provincial Council elections will be held under the new system, constituencies will have to be delimited for the purpose of holding elections under the First Past the Post System.
According to Sumanthiran MP, delimitation will take four months to complete.
This means that the next Provincial Council elections will be held after January 2018. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has promised to hold them before March 2018.
The term of office of nine provinces are scheduled to expire as follows: Sabaragamuwa, Eastern and North-Central expires in September/October; Central, Wayamba and Northern in October 2018; Central, Southern and Western in April 2019; and Uva in October 2019. (newsin.asia)