Women, Political Participation and the Gender Deficit in Democracy in Sri Lanka

IDRC's Democratic Governance, Women's Rights and Gender Equality initiative is supporting a body of comparative research on whether and how democratic processes and institutions are responding to women's rights and gender equality. The projects under this initiative will investigate issues surrounding women's participation in political decision-making, the judiciary and the public sector, and explore ways in which state institutions, political parties, civil society and kin-based social organizations can be influenced to advance women's choices and entitlements as citizens, including through increased representation.

Sri Lanka's experience with modern, representative democracy began in the early twentieth century, while the island was still a British colony. Universal adult franchise was granted to Sri Lankan citizens in 1931. Women, trade unions and associations of depressed-caste communities were in the forefront of the struggle for universal suffrage. Nevertheless, the expansion and institutionalization of democracy has led to a few glaring anomalies. The marginalization of youth and ethnic minorities from the state apparatus has let to violence, insurrection and civil war. Another anomaly - recognized but as yet not addressed - is, the unusually weak representation of women in democratic institutions and elected positions. This grant will support an program of knowledge production, education and policy intervention that is designed to address some key gender gaps in Sri Lanka's democratic process.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Monday, January 31, 2011

End Date

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


24 months

IDRC Officer

Singh, Navsharan

Total funding

CA$ 100,000


Sri Lanka, Central Asia, Far East Asia, South Asia


Governance and Justice

Project Leader

Dr. Kumari Jayawardena


Social Scientists Association

Institution Country

Sri Lanka

Institution Website