Political leadership accused of reinforcing misogynistic attitudes

Political parties have placed their female candidates for the February 10 local government election in wards where is a powerful, often male, candidate contesting from another political party and that can lead to distorted election results, Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon, executive director of Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) said.

He made this statement during a program to train female candidates for the coming local government election at Madurankuliya, Puttalam.

“Female candidates must contest in at least 10% of the wards in a particular electorate and political parties often pit their female candidates against very strong male candidates. In most cases women candidates are competing against former chairmen of a local council or an extremely popular figure,” he said.

CaFFE has noted that political parties have given up attempting to win the seats in which their female candidates are competing and that this might adversely affect their ability to win a majority in an electorate.

“This might lead to many unstable electorates and you will see people complaining that this is the fault of the Mixed-member proportional representation (MMP), which is not the case at all,” he said.

CaFFE executive director added that the decision taken by political parties to pit their female candidates against very strong male candidates will also strengthen the perception that women can’t successfully contest against male candidates.

“One of the main reasons why we campaigned for this new electoral system is because we wanted women to contest elections and win. We didn’t want women to just get through affirmative action. By pitting a female candidate against a former chairmen of a local council and not giving her the necessary support to carry out a strong campaign, political parties are ensuring that misogynistic attitudes are reinforced,” he said.

CaFFE is carrying out the largest training initiatives targeting female candidates outside main urban areas and a significant number of female candidates, from all political parties, contesting for wards in Puttalam District took part a training initiative yesterday. (Colombo Gazette)