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Muslim women urge PM to increase female representation

4 months ago

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  • Ferial Ashraff meets Dinesh, seeking mandatory 50% female quota  
  • Seek ban on parties not providing equal representation
BY Mirudhula Thambiah   Female Muslim political activists from various parts of the island met Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena yesterday (28) to emphasise that they are willing to increase their representation in politics, and therefore, requested the PM to mandate 50% female political representation in the nomination lists of political parties and independent groups. Speaking to The Morning yesterday (28), political activist Ferial Ashraff, the wife of former Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Leader M.H.M. Ashraff, stated that around 16 Muslim female political activists from across the island met Premier Gunawardena to urge the latter to raise female representation in the said nomination lists by 50%.  “We requested Gunawardena to raise female representation in the nomination lists by 50%, and we received a positive response from him,” she added.  Ferial Ashraff noted that there is a general perception among certain persons that it is very difficult to convince Muslim women to enter politics.  “They also think that their nomination lists will have vacancies if the representation of Muslim females is made mandatory. There is also a perception among certain people that it is very difficult to get Muslim women to enter politics. It is the general perception. If the female nomination list becomes a mandatory requirement, according to some persons, their list could become incomplete,” she added.  She also noted that having Muslim women in nomination lists would be against the interests of certain parties, and that these parties would therefore prefer it not be made mandatory.  “Neither Gunawardena nor President Ranil Wickremesinghe have any access to how Muslim women feel. They are exposed only to the ideas of those representing the Muslim communities. Therefore, we came to meet the Prime Minister and convey that this perception is totally incorrect, and that we are ready to enter politics,” she said.  Meanwhile, Mannar Women’s Development Federation Co-Founder Shreen Abdul Saroor told The Morning that the representatives had emphasised that parties should not be allowed to contest in electorates unless they provide equal representation to women.