The recently passed Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Act, No. 1 of 2016, introduced a 25% mandatory quota for women. Representation of women in Sri Lankan political structures is the lowest in South Asia. They had only 4% of seats in Provincial Councils and 1.9% in local government. In 2017 the Inter Parliamentary Union ranking of women in Parliament, Sri Lanka was placed 180 out of 190 countries.
The new amendment has increased the number of seats at local level by 25% from 6,619 to 8,825. This is the increase that will be available for women candidates nominated by political parties on a separate list according to the proportion of votes obtained by each party at the local council elections. Seats will be allocated according to the order of priority on this list as decided by the party. The number of women will increase dramatically from the present 90 to over 2,000. Although there are limitations such as the status quo or incumbency of male politicians, the dichotomy between women’s seats and general seats, and power to the political party has over the selections, this is just a beginning towards women’s equal representation.