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Is this the beginning of women’s political representation in the Northern Provincial Council

Is this the beginning of women’s political representation in the Northern Provincial Council

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Published by Thavam

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Published by: Thavam on Sep 25, 2013
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05/15/2014

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- on 09/25/2013 The Northern ProvincialCouncil Elections has concluded amidst various challenges. While WANwelcomes the conclusion of these elections the need for the full devolutionof powers so as to ensure the rights of historically subordinatedcommunities remains. The women who contested the elections facedseveral additional challenges to their male counterparts irrespective of thefact that only a very few women got nominated. In the post war contextwhen women came forward to participate in the democratic process, it’sdisturbing to note that all the mainstream political parties acted in thesame patriarchal manner against these women. Venugopal Gitanjali whocontested under UPFA in Killinochchi was subjected to several maliciousattacks through various media outlets. The harassment by men of theopposition partyof TNA’s Killinochchi candidate Vinubanadakumari whileshe was travelling to Vannerikulam, the harassment and violenceperpetrated against TNA’s Jaffna candidate Ananthi Sasitharan since theday she filed her candidacy must also be noted.Ananthi Sasithran has been raising the issue of the LTTE cadres whosurrendered to the SL Army on the last day of the war and have beendisappeared for sometime now. Ananthi, a mother of three children, enteredinto politics without any political background, financial power or backingand the same applies to the other women who contested. For example: assoon as Ananthi filed for her candidacy there was a protest against her in Jaffna, while campaigning her vehicle was attacked at the five-junction in
 
 Jaffna town. Two days before the election her house was attacked by armedmen and caused severe injuries to several of her supporters and finally onthe day of elections a fake publication replicating a popular local Jaffnanewspaper was published and distributed freely which carried as a leadnews item the claim that Ananthi of TNA has joined the UPFA . This falsestory was also spread through several radio announcements and TVbroadcasts.However, she withstood these slanders, threats and attacks and was able tosecure 87,870 preferential votes and came second to the chief ministerialcandidate in the Jaffna District. Venugopal Gitanjali secured 1866 votes andVinubanadakumari secured 2953 votes respectively in Killinochchi.UN Security Council Resolution 1325 calls for women’s full and equalparticipation in post war/conflict governance and reconciliation measures,particularly inclusion of the very affected women’s experiences inreconciliation, rebuilding and democratic processes. Women’s ActionNetwork sees Ananthi’s entry into NPC in this perspective and wishes tocongratulate her upon her victory and also the other women candidateswho courageously ran for political office that has been dominated by men,denying women their due share in governance. The reason for Ananthi’s victory is the vote of women and men who losteverything due to the war and have been calling for justice andaccountability. Ananthi in her campaign consistently stated that she wasstanding for elections to combat the violence taking place against womenand children in the north and the need to find sustainable methods to curbsuch increasing violence. She also focused on the issues women faced inthe post war context and the harassment women faced when seeking justice. Now that the women have overwhelmingly elected her, Ananthishould adhere to democratic principles, values and good governance andplace women at the center of her decisions as promised in her campaign.She must work towards peace and democracy while ensuring women areprovided equal opportunity, safety, and reconciliation, rule of law, justiceand rights. Women’s Action Network hopes that she will respect principlesof good governance, transparency and accountability and prove thatwomen indeed are evenhanded leaders. If not, she will become justanother elected representative who fails the people who repeatedly placetheir trust upon politicians, hoping for change and democracy. The TNA manifesto placed emphasis on the war, its implications andaftermath. In this context it is vital that TNA places women’s concerns,needs and solutions within its framework so as to ensure gender equality.Women need to be included in all levels of decision making anddevelopmental measures. TNA must protect the rights of all communitiesthat live within the Northern Province and ensure that the resettlement of the Muslims who were forcefully evicted in 1990 is conducted in a sensitive,

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