Election Expert on Women’s Political Representation (m/f/d) — Sri Lanka

Form of Employment: Short-term consultancy

Starting Date: 01 March 2021

Duration: 15 days

Location: home-based


Democracy Reporting International (DRI) is a non-partisan, independent, not-for-profit organisation registered in Berlin. DRI promotes the political participation of citizens, accountability of state bodies and the development of democratic institutions worldwide.

DRI is operating in Sri Lanka since 2016 and has implemented various democratic strengthening projects with the support of the German Federal Foreign Office, the European Union, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). DRI has worked in Sri Lanka on the thematic areas of human rights, constitutions, and democratic discourse with a focus on strengthening civil society in their work towards democratic reforms.

DRI is also working in Sri Lanka on electoral reforms. Women’s political representation in the Sri Lankan Parliament, as well as in other elected political bodies, remains abysmally low. Despite being the majority of the electorate as well as the majority among registered voters, women’s voices remain absent from formal politics. Over the last 31 years (1989 – 2020) during which elections have been held under the proportional representation system, there has been no significant change in the percentage of women who are elected to parliament. In fact, the recent 2020 general election saw the lowest number of women entering parliament through preferential votes in the last two decades. As of the 1 January 2020, Sri Lanka ranked 182nd out of 191 counties in terms of percentages of women in Parliament.[1] The percentage of women who get elected is usually significantly lower than the percentage of female candidates who contest, suggesting that even the few women who do get nominated do not get elected.

In 2012, a mixed-member proportional system was introduced for local authorities elections, where 60% of candidates are elected through wards and the other 40% through proportional representation. A further amendment in 2017[2] brought in quotas for women, requiring that 10% of candidates nominated for the wards must be women and 50% of the candidates on the proportional representation list must be women. 25% of the members in local authorities are required to be women, and if this number is not met through the candidates elected through the wards, that percentage is made up by the proportional representation list.[3] However, there are certain loopholes in the law which can result in a situation where less than 25% of the seats in a particular authority are filled by women.[4] Apart from the law itself, other social, political, economic and cultural constraints exist, which limits women‘s political participation. These include traditional roles attributed to women, lack of support from family, male-dominated politics, challenges getting nominated since major political parties are reluctant to nominate women as they are not considered winnable candidates, perception of voters, lack of equal playing field in the absence of a campaign finance regulation among others.

In light of this, it is important to look at legal and other constraints impacting women’s representation in politics and suggest recommendations on steps that can be taken to increase women entering politics by looking at international best practices, particularly from similar jurisdictions.

DRI, therefore, requires the services of an Election Expert: Women’s Political Participation in Sri Lanka.

Your Duties and Responsibilities

Under the overall supervision of DRI’s Director of Programmes in Berlin Head Office and the Country Representative (Sri Lanka). The Election Expert will perform tasks and deliverables which include the following:

  • Review existing provisions on women’s political participation in Sri Lanka;
  • Provide input towards improving legislation on women’s political participation in Sri Lanka in line with international standards;
  • Hold interviews with relevant stakeholders to inform the research;
  • Provide comparative examples / best practice cases for women’s political representation from other countries;
  • Synthesize information to outline the needs and shortcomings of women’s political representation in Sri Lanka against international standards and country examples;
  • Provide materials and analysis on women’s political representation, as required;
  • Draft an outline for an analytical paper on improving women’s political participation and revise this as per feedback from DRI and partners;
  • Collate all findings in an analytical paper according to the agreed outline;
  • Provide information for the creation of infographics to illustrate the findings;
  • Draft recommendations for Sri Lankan stakeholders to drive the discussion on improving women’s political participation forward and improve the legal framework;
  • Other relevant duties, as required.

Your Education and Experience

  • University degree in law, gender, politics, social sciences, or any other relevant discipline;
  • At least 5 years of professional experience in applied research and/or political analysis or international politics, particularly regarding women’s political participation, electoral reforms, and election observation;
  • Demonstrated expertise in analysing trends in relation to women’s political participation, including legislation and regulations;
  • In-depth understanding of elections and democracy issues in Sri Lanka and internationally;
  • Knowledge of international standards for democratic elections, especially related to women’s political participation;
  • Comparative expertise on women’s political representation internationally;
  • Demonstrated experience of writing high-quality research reports;
  • Excellent analytical skills and the ability to conceptualise policy formulation within the subject area;
  • Excellent English language skills (spoken and written) is a requirement.

For interested applicants, please send your application (short outline of how you would address this topic, CV and fee rate) to [email protected]. Please include “2021: Election Expert: Women’s Political Representation in Sri Lanka” in the subject line.

Closing date for applications: 28 February 2021.

Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. The position may be filled before the end of the deadline so early applications are encouraged.

Organisation responsible for this vacancy:

Democracy Reporting International gGmbH

Elbestr. 28/29

12045 Berlin,

Tel +49 30 27877300

Fax +49 30 27877300-10

Data processing of personal data in third countries will not take place. We process your data in accordance with the provisions of § 26 German Federal Data Protection Act. More information about processing your personal data: privacy policy.

[1]‘Women in Politics: 2020 (Map)’, Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women, 2020. Available at https://www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/publications/2020/women-in-politics-map-2020-en.pdf?la=en&vs=827

[2]Available at https://elections.gov.lk/web/wp-content/uploads/publication/acts/16-2017_E.pdf

[3]For a detailed explanation of the system see – Chulani Kodikara and Kumudini Samuel, ‘The Significance of the 25% Quota for Women in Local Government’, Groundviews, 7th February 2018. Available at https://groundviews.org/2018/02/07/the-significance-of-the-25-quota-for-women-in-local-government/

[4] ‘Women’s quota in local authority elections: Outcomes will fail the promise’, Verité Research, DailyFT, 9th February 2018. Available at http://www.ft.lk/opinion/Women-s-quota-in-local-authority-elections–Outcomes-will-fail-the-promise/14-649106

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