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Joining the race: Pathways to politics for grassroots and development-sector women in Sri Lanka

Womens representation in political office is critical to achieving gender justice, to advance womens interests, and for inclusive development leadership. These positive outcomes are hampered across Asia due to womens under-representation and the elite backgrounds of women elected into legislatures.

In Sri Lanka, the introduction of a local government quota in February 2018 increased womens participation, yet the elite backgrounds and/or lack of experience with constituents concerns leaves many questioning the capabilities of elected women and their ability to promote the concerns of women.

Lacking is an understanding of why women working in grassroots politics or in national developmentorganisations do not seek and/or attain seats in state or national assemblies. This comparative project develops such an understanding of the experiences of a diverse group of women actors in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. This research will increase the diversity and number of women elected into political positions in both countries, with lessons identified for other Asian countries. We will achieve this by:

  1. Deliveringpolicy and practice–relevant knowledgeas to how to increase thenumber of women from grassroots and development-sector backgrounds contesting elections

  2. Educating and building awarenessas to the benefits of having women in power from diverse backgrounds through reflexive dialogue with key stakeholders

  3. Identifying strategies for NGOs and feminist organisationsto recruit and support women in election campaigns

  4. Advancing theoryabout pathways to power for women and sharing strategies to facilitate those pathwaysthrough comparative research and knowledge exchange

This project is sponsored by the Development Leadership Program (DLP) and funded by Australian Aid, University of Birmingham, and La Trobe University.

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ICES is part of a 32-institution global hub on Gender, Justice and Security supported by the UK Research Initiative and the Global Challenges Research Fund. It is a five-year research project working

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