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Sri Lanka’s appalling record in the area of gender equality in politics and governance at the grassroots will be the focus of a unique national summit of women in Colombo later this month. Sri Lanka’s appalling record in the area of gender equality in politics and governance at the grassroots will be the focus of a unique national summit of women in Colombo later this month. More than 300 women from predominantly rural backgrounds will air grievances, share experiences and call for measures to encourage better representation for women in local government at this summit, organized by the South Asia Partnership – Sri Lanka (SAPSRI) as part of a three-year programme funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

The key issue driving the event’s theme is the fact that women, who make up 52 per cent of the population of the island, represent an abysmal 1.97 per cent of overall local government in stark contrast to the rest of South Asia.

In neighbouring India and Pakistan, females represent 33 per cent of local government; in Bangladesh 30 per cent of local government representatives are women while the figure for Nepal is 20 per cent.

“Sri Lanka appears to be one of