14 December 2020
GENDER EQUALITY OR EQUAL OPPORTUNITY?
Equality & Equal Opportunity are often taken as one and the same. But they are not. Equality is the visible part of a status. Like in majority rule, or seniority by age, it is only a primary level measure. The related law applies to Equal Opportunity. An opportunity is combination of the visible outcome and the potential ability. Whether one is Equal or not, is often confirmed by the effects produced in a Natural or balanced environment. A game regulated by common rules and played in an open environment is an example of Equal Opportunity. Towards this all factors other than the skills personal to the players need to be visibly equal or comply with common rules.
My attention was recently drawn to the interview of Mr TNA MP Shanakiyan – a TNA MP, by Ms Sonali Wanigabaduge of News 1st at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXfYh58cOdw
One of the issues discussed was the lack of Gender Balance in Sri Lankan Parliament and also within Tamil National Alliance in particular. The question is whether we need to focus on increasing the visible presence of women or encourage women to remain as the power behind their male partners. Likewise, in the case of minorities – do we separate so we become majority in a part or we remain the hidden power that works the majority.
Ms Sonali Wanigabaduge did highlight the lack of visible participation in national issues by the TNA leader between 2015 and 2018 when TNA held the position of Opposition Leadership in National Parliament. During my lifetime, this was the second time that this happened. The first was in 1977 after Vaddukoddai Resolution in 1976 – which was a declaration of political belief. The results confirmed that the declaration was true and therefore had the support of Universal powers which included Tamil, Sinhalese and all Colonial Rulers whose values were being carried forward by the Tamil community at a time when the Sinhala-Buddhist community relied heavily on Majority power of the then current Sinhala— Buddhists. Both outcomes confirmed the true investment of Tamils in all ancestral powers – including the British. This power which is exponential was stronger than the relative power of majority in 2015 and in 1977.
To the extent Sinhala— Buddhists use British systems but do not attribute credit to them their access to those powers are negated. If at the same time, Tamils have been continuing to pay their dues to British ancestors also, those powers are accessed. This is the key to success of minorities in Sri Lanka. To draw from Sinhala-only or Tamil-only heritage, one has to go back to pre-colonial rule in Sri Lanka.
Minorities including women in a male-driven society working as per their conscience – and paying their taxes to the common pool – but draw lesser than their counterparts in majority group, develop exponential power which will manifest as per the needs of minority. Hence they say that God always answers a mother’s prayers. I have found that unless there is a true need – the quiet enjoyment of minority power is sweeter than the enjoyment of apparent power. It is also a binding power that spreads itself quietly to keep the whole as One common unit bound by belief and therefore does not need Transparency or Accountability.
To Ms Wanigabaduge’s question about Sri Lankan contribution – Mr Shanakiyan highlighted the leading role played by TNA leader the Hon Sampanthan in accessing the power of the law in 2018 during the Constitutional Crisis. From then on that power worked independent of numbers.
So long as minorities have Belief – we will continue to defeat those who depend on majority power. Hence women who belief in Mother power – will continue to be the driving force of the whole.