A group of Tamil women called for a quota for female politicians to be instituted during consultations by the Jaffna Zonal Task Force of the Consultation Task Force earlier this month.
At the consultation which happened at the Jaffna Kachcheri on August 5, a group of Tamil women including a local TNA village councillor and the Women’s Society President, expressed frustration at the lack of political space given to women by both the TNA and the NPC. They stated that there are many Tamil women ready to join politics but Tamil political parties must do more to bring women into their parties.
The same group also raised the issue of livelihood for Tamil women stating that the military presence in the North-East made it hard for former female cadres and single women to safely earn a living. Additionally, initiatives providing women with livestock like cows and chickens are not working they said. In most cases, those animals die quickly and then those women are left without an income again.
The group also made a demand for more female police stating that it is difficult for women to go to male police about certain issues.
On the government’s transitional justice initiatives the women stated that there was still deep-rooted fear among the Tamil people that would make it difficult for them to go before any truth-finding body and that the government has done nothing to address this fear. Even now they said it is difficult to protest due to interference by the CID. To get rid of that fear the women said that an initial step could be the inclusion of victims in those mechanisms, and a protocol that permits victims to go before the mechanism with someone such as a lawyer or some type of representative.
Regarding disappearances, the women emphatically stated that they do not want a missing certificate which they believe will only lead to them receiving a death certificate in a few years. What they want is to know what happened to their disappeared loved ones. They also stated that the disappearances commission should including representation from the areas where the people were disappeared from alongside international representatives. Further they stated that families of the disappeared should be given assistance for their living situations.
The group also noted issues between Tamil and Muslim communities in the North-East which had been raised by a Muslim delegation earlier in the consultation and stated that there was much work to be done so that the communities could begin to understand each other and come to a resolution of issues.
The group called for more people to look beyond the roads and infrastructure development in the North-East and actually speak to grassroots women’s groups to see the issues they truly face.