Non-elite pathways to women's political leadership in Sri Lanka and Indonesia

Tanya Jakimow, Ramona Vijeyarasa, Asima Siahaan, Aida Harahap, Yumasdaleni, Mario Gomez, Viyanga Gunasekera, Nadine Vanniasinkam

Women protest for their rights in Indonesia. Nur Taufik Zamari, Unsplash
Image: Women protest for their rights in Indonesia. Nur Taufik Zamari, Unsplash

WHAT IT’S ABOUT

How women from non-elite backgrounds can be supported to contest elections.

  • What explains the prevalence of women from elite backgrounds in representative politics?
  • How do women politicians conceptualise leadership and representation and how does this differ according to their background and experience: (a) grassroots politics; (b) development/NGO action; and (c) elite political families?
  • What are the experiences of elected women from diverse backgrounds?
  • What role can NGOs, the women’s wings of political parties, and feminist organisations play in increasing the number and diversity of women elected into parliaments?

WHAT WE EXPECT TO LEARN

Why women working in grassroots politics or development organisations are under-represented in state or national assemblies. Better strategies for NGOs and feminist organisations to recruit and support women in election campaigns.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

This comparative project will examine a diverse group of women actors in Indonesia and Sri Lanka to better understand why women working in grassroots politics or in national development organisations do not seek and/or attain seats in state or national assemblies.

Women’s representation in political office is critical to achieving gender justice, to advance women’s interests, and for inclusive development leadership. These positive outcomes are hampered across Asia due to women’s under-representation and the elite backgrounds of women elected into legislatures. In Indonesia, there is a lack of capable women candidates willing to contest elections while women working in grassroots social work and the development sector do not pursue a career in politics. In Sri Lanka, the introduction of a local government quota in February 2018 increased women’s 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.

Women are tarnished by early activities in local level politics, preventing advancement in political careers. Women in the development sector suggest a preference for ‘clean politics’ of civil society and relative freedom of activism. This project will test these propositions, and identify how women politicians have successfully navigated gendered social norms (cultural expectations) and public perceptions to cultivate legitimacy as political leaders.

Tanya Jakimow, Principal Investigator

WHO’S INVOLVED, WHERE

Tanya Jakimow, The Australian National University
Ramona Vijeyarasa, University of Technology, Sydney
Asima Siahaan, Universitas Sumatera Utara, Indonesia
Aida Harahap, Universitas Sumatera Utara
Yumas Daleni, the National University of Malaysia
Mario Gomez, International Centre for Ethnic Studies
Viyanga Gunasekera, International Centre for Ethnic Studies
Nadine Vanniasinkham, International Centre for Ethnic Studies

RESEARCH COUNTRIES

Sri Lanka, Indonesia

Map to highlight research countries, Indonesia and Sri Lanka

TIMELINE

February 2020 - February 2022

FIND OUT MORE

NEWS

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Authors


Tanya Jakimow

Tanya Jakimow

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the College of Asia and the Pacific, the Australian National University

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Ramona Vijeyarasa

Ramona Vijeyarasa

Chancellor’s Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney

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Asima Siahaan

Asima Siahaan

Senior Lecturer, Department of Public Administration, Universitas Sumatera Utara

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Aida Harahap

Aida Harahap

Research Fellow and Adjunct Teacher, Universitas Sumatera Utara

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Yumasdaleni

Yumasdaleni

Research Fellow, PhD student, the National University of Malaysia

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Mario Gomez

Mario Gomez

Executive Director, International Centre for Ethnic Studies

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Viyanga Gunasekera

Viyanga Gunasekera

Program Officer/Researcher, International Centre for Ethnic Studies

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Nadine Vanniasinkam

Nadine Vanniasinkam

Program Officer/Researcher, International Centre for Ethnic Studies

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