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Cry Sis! Women insist on 25% quota
Published Date: 20/02/2018 (Tuesday)

Following the confusion and issues related to the 25 per cent quota for women in Local Government (LG) authorities in the country, 163 women and 44 leading women organizations have sent a strong letter to Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya, leaders of political parties and the Speaker, urging them not to 'back-track' on their promises and the Act that ensures the participation of women in local government.

Women from all walks of life have signed this letter urging political parties to comply with all provisions of the law and recognizing the exceptions in the quota, and to encourage political parties to go beyond the minimum requirements and nominate more women to fulfil the spirit of the 25 per cent quota, thus strengthening diverse representation.

One of the members of the Election Commission S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole has also stated that 'Women should not be insulted and devolving powers to women is no burden.'

He pointed out that there have been recent calls to not implement fully the legal requirement of having at least 25 per cent women in each local government authority and that has been highlighted in leading newspapers.

He noted that the media reported that 'The Election Commission is to ask that the Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Act No. 22 of 2012 be amended to allow councils to be established even without the mandatory 25 per cent quota under special circumstances, which Hoole says is incorrect for two reasons. First, the 25 per cent quota is of very recent origin and is from Act No. 16 of 2017. And second, no such decision was ever taken at any meeting of the commission.He said, "Speaking for myself as a member of the Elections Commission (and not for the Commission) I say that the women are right in feeling their long-fought-for gains are threatened. Indeed, I do not see any lacunae in the law that need urgent attention. When the quota is the law, we cannot have exceptions. In my view, backdating changes to the law to affect the elections that have already been conducted is improper." He pointed out further that these conditions are often misquoted as exemptions for meeting either condition as in one of the news articles cited above. There is also the wrong idea that ward candidates contest and that those on the PR list do not contest. In fact, they all contested.

Source: Ceylon Today

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