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Dinesh says Lankan women on par with their counterparts in West

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Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena addressing the High-Level Meeting on the 25th Anniversary of the 4th World Conference on Women on Thursday

Historically, Sri Lanka had demonstrated its commitment and political will to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women, being cognizant of their invaluable contribution to the social and economic development of the country, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said on Thursday.

 Addressing the High-Level Meeting on the 25th Anniversary of the 4th World Conference on Women, the minister said women in Sri Lanka, comprised more than half of its population, had achieved social development indicators such as literacy rates, social inclusion and life expectancy, which were on par with the developed countries.

 Full text of Minister Gunawardena’s speech: I am honored to represent Sri Lanka at this High-Level Meeting to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the 4th World Conference on women.

Undoubtedly, the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, which was adopted during the 4th World Conference on Women in 1995 is a landmark global agenda for the empowerment of women. This comprehensive policy document remains relevant today as it was 25 years ago, as a source of guidance and inspiration for the advancement of women and the achievement of gender equality, globally.

While recognizing that vital steps have been taken by the global community towards achieving gender equality and empowering women, we also acknowledge that challenges and obstacles continue to remain, impeding the socio-economic and political development of women.

Across every sphere, from health to economy, negative impacts of COVID-19 have affected women and girls worldwide. It is therefore essential to keep gender equality and women in the forefront amidst global efforts to recover from this pandemic.

Historically, Sri Lanka has demonstrated its commitment and political will to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women, being cognizant of their invaluable contribution to the social and economic development of the country.

It is very encouraging to note that the women in Sri Lanka, comprising more than half of our population, have achieved social development indicators such as literacy rates, social inclusion and life expectancy, which are on par with the developed countries.

I am very proud to acknowledge the achievements of women in my country, who play a significant role in every sphere. Sri Lankan women were granted voting rights (universal franchise) in 1931. Sri Lanka produced the first female Prime Minister in the world in 1960.Sri Lankan women have continued to hold several high-ranking positions in the country as Members of Parliament and local Government, Secretaries to Ministries, Heads of Diplomatic Missions, and the Judiciary. Women represent half of the working population in the country and excel in higher education. Their contribution to the national economy is very significant. Women represent 34.5% of the labour force while 39% of the expatriate work force consists of women.

The Government, headed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has received an overwhelming mandate from the Sri Lankan people, is committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), among which the fifth Goal is to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”

In our Government’s National Policy Framework (“Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour”), 10 key policy areas have been identified to achieve a fourfold outcome of ‘a productive citizenry, a contented family, a disciplined and just society and a prosperous nation’. In this framework, priority has been given to gender-based equality, empowerment of women and minimization of gender-based violence.

In line with the above policy framework, the Government will facilitate and ensure the contribution of Sri Lankan women to the betterment of our society as an equal player, in an environment where women will make their own decisions and will be free to reach their aspirations and will not be subject to any violence or discrimination.

 In this context, Sri Lanka fully supports the theme of this meeting, i.e. “Accelerating the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”

 In conclusion, Sri Lanka reaffirms its commitment to the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, which should be our shared commitment towards an inclusive and sustainable development.

I wish to conclude by quoting the theme of this year’s Inter national Women’s Day in Sri Lanka, which is, “Woman’s Courage- Nation’s Strength.”



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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