The representation and involvement of women in Sri Lanka’s political life has been inadequate at best. Although women are equal to men in revenue generation and often reach higher levels of literacy and education, they are left out of decision-making processes in local and national legislative bodies.
Women in Local Governance targets a group of 80 promising female political leaders in 3 districts – Ampara, Badulla and Kurunegala – who represent all religious and ethnic groups in the country. The project aims to strengthen their leadership skills, enabling them to be more influential within governance structures, while simultaneously promoting an attitudinal shift in the way society perceives women in governance.
These outcomes will be achieved by focusing on three components: training and capacity building for existing and potential women political leaders; radio and community activities, to create a positive public attitude towards female leadership; dialogue, advocacy and a petition to engage political parties in efforts to increase the representation of women.
We believe that Women in Local Governance will have a positive impact on the participants and enhance the capacity of women’s rights organizations to better tackle under-representation. Additionally, we envision that the phases of media outreach and dialogue with political parties will benefit society as a whole, by increasing women’s participation in local and national governance.
Our partners in this project are the Women’s Media Collective (WMC) and the Association for War Affected Women (AWAW), both of which have extensive experience in engaging women in the political process and utilising media for social change. At the district level, the Women Development Centre (Badulla), the Women Resource Centre (Kurunegala), and the Foundation for Rural Empowerment in Digamadulla (Ampara) work alongside us to mobilize the women leaders.