Whither Women in Parliament?

by manthri.lk - Research Team posted over 8 years ago in Analysis


  A previous Manthri.lk analysis revealed that there is a double problem for women’s representation in parliament. The first is that women constitute a very small percentage in parliament (5.8%). The second is that their total contribution in parliament is much less than even that small percentage (2.6%).

Is this because women limit themselves to just a few topics, or do they contribute well below their weight across the board?

Women’s contribution is widespread:
Of the 42 topics classified by Manthri.lk women have participated in 36 (86% of the topics) from May 2012 to April 2014.

Wide, but shallow: Women’s contribution exceed their parliamentary weight of 5.8%, only in two of these topics (see Exhibit 1). In all the other topics women are contributing below their parliamentary weight.


Being a Minister makes a difference: Three of the top five topics are driven by women parliamentarians holding ministerial positions. Pavithra Wanniarachchi is the Minister of Power and Energy; Nirupama Rajapaksha is the Deputy Minister of Water Supply and Drainage; and Sumedha Jayasena is the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs. The women Ministers outdo the other women parliamentarians in their Ministerial subjects. But they don’t outdo all the men. They rank 4th, 12th and 13th respectively in their Ministerial topics in parliament (Exhibit 2).  


The two other topics in the top 5 are somewhat predictable: “Women, Children and Elders’ Rights” and “Youth Affairs”. How would you interpret this data? Why are women MPs failing to make a stronger contribution in parliament: are they less competent or do they have less opportunity? Your thoughts and questions are welcome at www.manthri.lk/en/blog; or by text to the manthri.lk hotline: 071-4639882.  


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