Dynasty and Double Standards: Women Leaders in South Asia

This article was published by Roar.lk. Full article here: http://roar.lk/features/of-dynasty-and-double-standards-women-leaders-in-south-asia/

While the U.S. has arguably shown the world that it would rather have a leader that grabs pussies than has one, in South Asia only the Maldives and Bhutan (which is a patrilineal monarchy in any case) have not had a female head of state. Political scientists have been fascinated by this exceptionalism of female leadership in Asia but much of the research says the same thing.

“… the easiest way for a woman to enter politics is to marry a politician”[i]

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On Mother’s Day 2016

Here’s to those who choose to and do not choose to become mothers
to those who are trying to or trying not to
to those who can and those who can’t
or who still wonder whether to
to those who know they don’t want to
to those who are but didn’t choose to be
to those who are but didn’t expect to be
to those who are and wanted to be
to those who are.
Here’s to the women who are people too
who don’t want to be defined by being a mother
or not being one
Here’s to the people and institutions and legislations and communities supporting whatever choice is made.
Here’s to the people who have to make that choice.

This poem was later submitted to and published by the Kavithé Collective here. Kavithé Collective ie ‘a collective of writers from Sri Lanka scattered across the world who want to see more creative writing engaged with social and political realities.  Kavithé is also a space for work that is identifiably of Sri Lanka: its sounds, smells, situations…’. See more about them

Kids on a train: or Why I still hate children

As a Sri Lankan woman, I am doubly obliged to like kids. I feel like South Asians give white women a tacit waiver, accepting that many of them ‘choose’ not to have children but of course ‘regret it when their maternal instinct kicks in’ or ‘when they’re 40 and alone and miserable and their husband hates them because they are barren, pau aneh’. Yeesh. As a Sri Lankan woman of course, when something whose age is still counted in months is carried into the room, I am expected to goo and gah over it. If I stand away continuing to talk politics with the men, I feel as though I’ve let someone down. So I walk over, pretend to be interested for as long as other women appear to be, and try not to commit too far to this baby-loving persona in case I accidentally touch the thing and set it screaming. Continue reading

#25forwomen: why affirmative action is not discrimination

Five quick reasons Sri Lanka needs affirmative action:

  1. Sri Lanka is the only country in South Asia without a quota for women in government: http://www.quotaproject.org/uid/countryview.cfm?country=131
  2. Female population of SL is 52% but less than 6% representation in parliament, out of which their participation is less than 3%
    http://www.manthri.lk/en/blog/posts/whither-women-in-parliament
  3. In 2012/2013 admissions year, 61.3% of total university admissions were female; 85.7% of law admissions were female. We need to break the myth that there aren’t enough qualified women to lead us and that women aren’t informed enough to make intelligent decisions about how we must be governed.
    http://www.ugc.ac.lk/downloads/statistics/stat_2013/chapter2.pdf
  4. Women’s issues are not a ‘minor’ issue. Gendered persepectives are essential to creating policy regarding reconciliation, social welfare, labour practice, education, everything. Boxing ‘women’s issues’ under one Ministry solves nothing.
  5. Finally, it was promised to the nation by this government: http://www.president.gov.lk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/A-new-Sri-Lanka-for-Women-EN.jpg

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The Tax on being a Woman

After commenting to my friend last night that I had finally stopped being contacted by a stalker, I woke up this day – while I was praying, of all instances – by a call from yet another unknown number. I’m a social worker and work heavily in youth volunteer activities. I am a representative of two organisations and receive calls from all kinds of people at all hours of the week. Whether it’s someone calling out for help, an idea, a donation, a keenness to serve our community, or someone who just wants to know more, I have to be the voice behind that phone call. I need to have the freedom to do this and as of December 2014, this vocation of mine has taken a different turn. Continue reading