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UN told about progress made by Sri Lanka for the advancement of women

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Despite the many challenges in the last few years Sri Lanka has maintained the progress made in the context of its national machinery for advancement of women, Chathura Weerasekara, First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, said addressing the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.

“Sri Lanka has a good track record of gender equality, both historically and culturally as clearly detailed in our recorded history for more than 2500 years. Our historical evidence provides ample evidence as to the significant role, played by women, enjoying such high degree of independence, equality, viability and decision-making opportunities both at ancient royal courts and in the contemporary domestic sphere, and thereby in public life. Therefore, in modern times, it was not surprising when Sri Lanka became one of the first countries to adopt universal adult suffrage in 1931,” he said.

In compliance with the articles stipulated in the constitution of Sri Lanka and in realizing the commitments made to the international human rights instruments such as CEDAW, the laws and policies of Sri Lanka has given due consideration to promote gender equality, Weerasekara said.

Given below are excerpts of his speech: “The legal framework in Sri Lanka is in place to protect women and girls from sexual violence and in respect to many offences such as murder, rape, sexual abuse and harassment, incest, trafficking and child abuse. In 2020, the Cabinet of Sri Lanka has approved establishing a National Policy to collect sex and age disaggregated data with the ambition of designing development programmes for women and children under the national policy framework. We also note with happiness that women’s representation in the Local Government bodies has risen to 22% in 2018 with the introduction of a quota for women.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the progress made by Sri Lanka in this area faced a slowdown in parallel to its global counterparts. The pandemic has imposed a heavier burden on female healthcare workers including nurses and midwives. It has slowed down the pace of progress of development activities in the country and impacted the programmes aiming at the empowerment of women. In addition, statistics have revealed increase of incidences of violence against women and children as a result of restricted mobility.

“Against this backdrop, it can be said with pride that Sri Lanka has maintained the progress made in the context of its national machinery for advancement of women. For instance, the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs of Sri Lanka has launched a gender mainstreaming mechanism that covered all major development sectors and line ministries. The mechanism included establishment of Gender Focal points at the senior level of the said institutions, building sectoral staff capacities on gender mainstreaming and gender responsive planning and budgeting and establishment of anti-sexual harassment committees within the line ministries.

“Currently, Sri Lanka is in the process of formulation of the draft National Women’s Policy. During this process, special attention is given to investigate women’s rights issues structured by areas such as ethnicity, social class, caste that may require additional policy interventions. In addition, action is being taken to repeal the discriminatory provisions of the laws towards women.

“Sri Lanka is currently taking substantive actions to address the issues which include, inter-alia, conflict related sexual and gender-based violence towards women, trafficking and exploitation of prostitution and to strengthen the participation of women in political and public life and decision-making.

With less than eight years remaining to realize the targets envisioned in the 2030 agenda, it is vital that the subject of the advancement of women be treated as a top priority. With long-term and holistic policies, Sri Lanka looks forward to meaningfully realize the advancement of women in timely manner.”



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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman

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Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand

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At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night

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President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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