Due to gender-based socio-cultural norms and biases, it is understood that there are barriers to entry and engagement for women to contribute actively in politics in Sri Lanka.
Violence against women in elections is regarded as a major deterrent to women’s political participation as electoral and political leaders.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence is a global campaign that runs from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to 10 December (Human Rights Day), advocating for the elimination of all forms of Gender-based Violence (GBV) against women around the world.
To mark the campaign in Sri Lanka, the National Forum Against Gender-based Violence is delivering a public advocacy campaign titled ‘Elect her. End Violence’ (ඡන්දය ඇයට. ප්රචණ්ඩත්වයට තිත. அவளைத்தேர்ந்தெடுப்போம். வன்முறையைஒழிப்போம்).
The campaign aims to bring all Sri Lankans together through a public pledge that calls for action in ending Violence Against Women in Elections (VAWIE) in order for women to have equal access and opportunities for active political participation. A caravan carrying the pledge will travel around the island during the 16 days, obtaining signatures from the public to advocate for a violence-free election environment for women.
To launch the campaign, the Forum convened a press conference in Colombo. Members of the head table included Ms. Ritsu Nacken, Chair of the Forum Against GBV and Representative of UNFPA; Mrs. Swarna Sumanasekara, Chairperson, National Committee on Women; DIG Priyantha Jayakody, Sri Lanka Police; Mr. Samantha Jayasinghe, Deputy Commissioner and Gender Focal Point, Election Commission, and Mr. Sudharshana Gunawardena, Director General of the Department of General Information and Chairman Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation.
At the press conference, to commence the journey of the caravan, Chairman of the Election Commission, Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya, placed his signature on the travelling pledge. Also, a trilingual video featuring, women leaders, political figures, female political candidates, activists, and forum members was officially launched. The video is available on the website: www.fagbvsl.org/16days2017.php
The National Forum Against GBV is a collective of over 50 organizations representing Government agencies, UN agencies, national and international non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, and individual experts and activists. The Forum, which has evolved into a National-level platform for coordinated advocacy and collective actions against GBV, is chaired by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Sri Lanka. (Colombo Gazette)