One of our key overall objectives is to ensure consolidation of the collective and individual power of the membership of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus despite our small numbers, in order to engender our core mandate – legislative work, oversight and representational roles of the 12 MPs in the Caucus.

Based on our Terms of Reference endorsed by all members of the Caucus, we have carved for ourselves a few broad areas of work that we expect will bring about substantial equality for women and underrepresented groups. Enlisted below are the thrust areas of our work planned. However, our understanding within the Caucus lends well for flexibility of agenda to ensure that we can always address any unanticipated emerging issues that may impact on women and vulnerable populations.

A Few Key Results Areas:

Policy Advocacy work:

  • Advocacy and lobby to develop a strong overarching women’s rights policy for Sri Lanka and bring strategic coherence with the national development policy of Vistas of Prosperity. (A draft women’s rights policy is available already and that can be strengthened)
  • Advocacy for ensuring gender and social inclusion concerns are factored into all policy and providing space for public consultation and evidence-based policy making to ensure inclusivity.
  • Setting up technical experts’ committees for engendering legislative work as appropriate to review policy and law reform initiatives.
  • Follow up action with the executive and other appropriate agencies throughout the policy development cycle to ensure that policy is approved or amended as appropriate.

Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting:

  • Advocate and promote inclusive and gender responsive sectoral planning, budgeting and performance monitoring process at national level with trickle down impact to other levels.
  • Take lead in implementation of SDG 2030 agenda with specific focus on SDG 5 and other cross cutting gender targets and indicators.
  • Take steps towards formulation of annual gender equality statement prior to the development of appropriation bill and lobby with relevant sectors to ensure gender responsive planning and budgeting in line with the thrust areas identified under the gender equality statement.

Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting:

  • Strengthen the institutional mechanism of Caucus of Women Parliamentarians with sustained structure and resource in place. Thereby engaging the Caucus members in every formalized Committee such as the SOC, Select Committees, Public Petitions Committee or any other specialized Committee set up, to ensure there is female representation and focused attention of women and social inclusion issues in the discussions and decisions.
  • Proactive and strategic intervention to increase women political participation and bring more women into mainstream politics through a quota system and lobby within the political party system.

Addressing SGBV/VAW issues as a priority issue:

  • Carry out sustained efforts to address SGBV in Sri Lanka through regular monitoring of incidence of SGBV, effective dialogue within the Parliament and outside, on the need to uphold zero violence in Sri Lanka, ensure the different policies that address SGBV in Sri Lanka are effectively implemented through sectoral Ministries, Private sector, and Civil Society.

Specific work undertaken as a Caucus since we were elected include:

Technical discussions with experts on selected subjects impacting on women such as the national budget, planning and budgeting for equality and inclusion, period poverty, violence against women, women’s unemployment and under-employment in the workforce, migrant workers rights, laws that impact adversely on women and other special groups of persons who are vulnerable to rights violations.

We have provided a collective proposal for integrating gender and social inclusion concerns into the proposed and pending Constitutional Reforms to the Ministry of Justice.

We have participated in planning meetings with NGOs and CSO to inform them of our agenda and hear from them how they could assist us, keeping in mind our plans and goals.

We have participated in events to mark International Women’s Day 2021 with a view to advocate for women’s rights in politics, in the world of work and in the domestic sphere.

We have launched our own Caucus of the 9th Parliament website to mark International Women’s Day 2021.
We conducted panel discussions to debate the budget issues with male champions from amongst the MPs and announced our plans as a Caucus through a panel discussion so that the public will better understand our vision as a Caucus.
We have also held a media conference on the occasion of IWD 2021 through our own Parliamentary Media Centre, to reach out to the public and engage with them on this significant day.
We lobbied and advocated against the discrimination metered to DIG Bimshani Jasin Arachchi recently and made our dissenting voice heard forcefully. We were well supported by our male colleagues in Parliament too and this was very encouraging.

We have advocated for the setting-up of a Select Committee to specifically address Women’s issues that are brought to Parliament through public hearings or similar forums.

We have participated in two public hearing – listening to the voice of victims from diverse sectors. They discussed with us very openly their experiences of sexual exploitation in the workplace and a plea taken up on ensuring the ratification of ILO Convention 190 – to end violence and sexual harassment in the workplace.

We have also participated in a hearing from stakeholders who have undertaken comprehensive research on land issues and heard directly from women affected by land issues. We will refer the issues to the appropriate consultative committees on receipt of complete evidence advocating for solutions for these women and their poor families.