Where are the women in Local Government?

A film by Chulani Kodikara and Chitra Velayudan
Approx 8 minutes, 2010.

Despite an extremely favourable Human Development Index
(HDI) for women, women’s representation in elected political
 bodies in Sri Lanka is abysmally low. It is 5.8% in
parliament, 4.1% in provincial councils and only 1.8% in
local government. Nominations for women by the major political
 parties have remained almost stagnant in the last 50 years and 
even after Sri Lanka switched to elections based on proportional representation (PR) in 1989. Although, there are many women leaders at the
 community level they are marginalized and ignored when it 
comes to nominations. Women’s organizations have used
 many strategies to increase representation in the last 10 — 15
years including through independent women’s lists and
 advocacy for a legal quota for women. However in a culture
 which is based on patronage politics, independent lists have 
so far not succeeded. A legal quota has also not been 
implemented. Therefore if women’s representations in local
 councils are to be increased, the major political parties must
 be pressured to give more nominations to women, while at
 the same time raising public awareness about the problem of
 under-representation of women at local level.
This film seeks to raise awareness about the issue of under-
representation of women at local level as well as the
 importance of having women’s representation in local
 councils at the
community level.

The film was made in collaboration with the Women and Media Collective collaborated and with OVP as part of the 2010 Sri Lanka Visual Media Training Project.