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Women in Politics: No easy lessons (VOF Month 1)

Women still constitute a very low percentage (5.7%) in Sri Lanka’s highest elected body, the Parliament. This is the trend seen in other elected bodies at district and provincial level too.

But Dr. Sepali Kottegoda and others advocating affirmative action to increase women's political representation, believe that slow, incremental change is possible and their 25+ years of working on the issues are beginning to show results in Sri Lanka.

But there are no easy lessons on this road. Each country has its own challenges, as well as positive influences and ways in which to work in a system that is loaded against women.

But Sepali shared 2 vital lessons learnt from her own work in this area, in Sri Lanka:

1. Profiling Women political candidates in the Media

“I think building up and profiling women in the media, potential candidates or even women politicians, is very important in terms of communication. Media exposure, especially in TV, is essential. You have to link the voice with the face in politics and that is where TV plays such a vital role.”

2. Never Stop Engaging the Policy Makers

“The discourse with policy makers has to be an ongoing process, constantly raising issues, questioning policies, introducing new concepts and initiatives to them. A broader programme of discussion and advocacy on equality has to take place constantly.”

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