( March 8, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) “We are in unanimous agreement that the sustainable existence of the humankind depends on the strength of the empowered women. That is why the sustainable development goals of the United Nations Organization prioritize the plan to empower all women and female children within the next 15 years,” President Maithripala Sirisena in his message to mark the International Women’s Day states.
The message states, “Sri Lanka recognizes the motherhood as precious. However, the recognition does not provide sufficient protection to the entire feminine community. Therefore, the government in its endeavour to achieve the sustainable development, has to implement pragmatic programme to ensure the identity and the protection of Sri Lankan women and to give them an opportunity to engage in the development process,” the President states.
“It is a matter for satisfaction that the women in Sri Lanka, comprising more than half the population of Sri Lanka, have achieved development indicators to the level of the developed countries in the world.
The Sri Lankan women is ahead of her male counterpart in literacy and life expectancy. Today, the Sri Lankan women are taking the highest burden of our economy.
“It is our objective to further expand the steps taken by our government during the last two years to enhance the women’s contribution in the management and the political decision making machinery, in order to empower the multiple roles of Sri Lankan women.
“I expect the intervention and the contribution of women’s organizations, women activists and all relevant parties in this regard.
“I wish the programmes on the International Women’s Day which are organized under the theme “She Envisions Past, Present and Future – Victorious Thorough Efforts,” with the objective of establishing the respectful position of the Sri Lankan women every success. I commend all those who make relentless efforts to achieve the goals of the International Women’s Day.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in a message released for International Women’s Day that falls on March 8, said he hoped Sri Lankan women would find the strength to successfully overcome challenges and ‘emerge as a confident stakeholder of Sri Lanka’s common future.’
The full text of the message is reproduced below:
‘Although in Sri Lanka, women are significantly empowered in many ways than their counterparts in the rest of South Asia, their role in domestic and household work has resulted in limitations being imposed on their contribution to the economy.
While being conscious of her role as a wife and a mother, it goes without saying that the woman of today has the capacity and the potential to play a greater role economically, socially and spiritually.
As a nation, we must be able to set the stage for her to be accepted, acknowledged and recognised within a wider context; one in which we can truly assure her of an equal position and the rightful place in our society.
It is the obligation of the society and the government to ensure that women in Sri Lanka are able to aspire to the kind of empowerment women all over the world have experienced in modern times.
My hope is that the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day will encourage and facilitate the Sri Lankan woman, towards truly fulfilling the role required of her within a greater economic and a social framework at a national level.
This International Women’s Day, may every Sri Lankan woman find the strength within her to successfully overcome challenges and emerge as a confident stake holder of Sri Lanka’s common future.’
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader of Parliament R. Sampanthan sending a message to mark the International Women’s Day stated the contribution of women to the nation has been invaluable.
However, unfortunately, women continue to face routine discrimination, harassment, and maltreatment in every corner of our society, he said.
The Opposition Leader stated that women were also the most affected as a result of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka. “For instance, the war snatched away the lives of their loved ones, leaving many widowed and without livelihoods. Still more, thousands of women continue, to date, to search for their family members who disappeared during and after the war. This matter requires urgent attention and action as it continues to make these women vulnerable to abuse and exploitation and impairs them from moving on with their lives,” the Opposition Leader said.
“As we celebrate the role of women and remember their contribution to our nation, my hope is that we would also, as a people, resolve to ensure gender equality and equity, and safeguard the dignity of all women in Sri Lanka. As such, my hope is that the new constitution would reflect these aspirations, ensuring greater protection and empowerment of all women in all spheres of society,” Sampanthan said.
“As we enter a landmark period in the history of our country, I also wish to affirm the importance and call upon the government to ensure the full participation of women in reconciliation and transitional justice processes. Finally, while recognizing the extraordinary efforts of women towards the prosperity and progress of our nation, I call upon all women to continue to strive hard towards the development of our country,” stated the Opposition Leader in his message.