Sri Lanka has 23.2% (4.64 million) of its population aged between 15 and 29 years old. Youth in Sri Lanka are facing various daily struggles, such as education, unemployment, health, social integration, and the post-war rehabilitation process, therefore, they can be classified as a vulnerable group within the present society.
According to the 2014 National Human Development Report for Sri Lanka (NHDR) although 71.5% of youth in Sri Lanka exercise their right to vote, only a small fraction is directly engaged in politics through activism within political parties or trade unions. Furthermore, 17.7% of youth do not exercise their voting rights and/or participate in any political activity.
In 1990, a youth quota system was introduced by an amendment to the Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Act no. 254 of 1990, to provide for 40% of youth candidates, between 18-35 years of age, in nomination lists to promote youth involvement in democratic politics. According to Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Act, 25% of the nominees may be women and youth (under 35).
However, in the last Presidential Election in 2015, positive change was observed as people became more aware and interested in politics and elections. Social media sites became platforms where people shared and discussed political content, especially young people especially started actively sharing ideas and opinions. A new voter base of one million young people emerged with the Presidential Election, while candidates showed more attention to what young people were saying.
Sachinda Dulanjana, The Political Scenario in Sri Lanka: does it whither Youth and Women?,UNDP, May 3 2016, http://www.lk.undp.org/content/srilanka/en/home/Blog/2016/5/3/The-Political-Scenario-in-Sri-Lanka-does-it-whither-Youth-and-Women-.html.
Chapa Perera, Sri Lankan General Elections: What was missing?, The Royal Commonwealth Society, Sep. 21 2015, https://www.thercs.org/news/news-and-blog/sri-lankan-general-elections-what-was-missing/.
Representative Democracy & Electoral Reforms in Sri Lanka, Research Department- One Text Initiative, Jan.13 2013, http://www.onetext.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Research-on-Representative-Democracy-and-Electoral-Reforms-in-Sri-Lanka.pdf.
Country Gender Assessment Sri Lanka: An Update, Asian Development Bank, Deutsche Gasellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GiZ) GmbH, 2015,http://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/institutional-document/172710/sri-lanka-country-gender-assessment-update.pdf.