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UN urges social protection for SL’s vulnerable women for post-Covid recovery

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Sri Lankas high number of women-headed households are especially hit hard by Covid-19 particularly because women are losing their livelihoods faster than men, the United Nations said.

More than a quarter of all households some 25.8% or 1.4 million are female-headed and more than half are by women who lost their partners in the separatist war.

In a media statement, UN Women in Sri Lanka representative, Ramaaya Salgado said women are particularly affected because they are exposed to hard-hit economic sectors, have less access to social protection and are more likely to be burdened with unpaid care and domestic work.

Salgado who is the country focal point for the subject added that women heads of households, in particular, carry a double burden in caring for their dependents and being the sole breadwinner of the family.

Long-term investment in social protection is needed to ensure female heads of households are resilient in the face of crisis situations. Hence, womens economic empowerment must be at the heart of COVID-19 response and recovery she said.

Describing a typical woman, the UN said, has been struggling to make ends meet since her husband died 15 years ago due to the conflict.

The release cited a woman named Tharshini who had been badly affected since the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns that started last year.

Her income from poultry farming has dropped, and her eldest daughter, who they relied on for household expenses, has found no daily-wage work.

During the lockdown, we had to take loans from our neighbours, said Tharshani. We were struggling to find the money for food, and my son had to go to school every day without breakfast. I was afraid he might not be able to continue his education, said the mother of three.

Recovering from the COVID-19 crisis must include urgent policy action to introduce economic support packages for vulnerable women, according to the UN Women publication Gender Equality in the Wake of COVID-19 the statement added.

Further, the publication highlights that eliminating inequality in the labour market is more urgent than ever. This includes addressing issues related to occupational segregation, gender pay gaps and inadequate access to affordable childcare. Data on socioeconomic effects as well as improved and up-to-date gender-responsive data collection systems are also vital to understanding the pandemics impact on different groups of women.

Last year, with support from the Government of Australia (DFAT), UN Women in Sri Lanka together with local NGO Viluthu has supported more than 1,300 female-headed households through the delivery of emergency relief packs including dry rations to meet their daily needs, the statement said.

With enough supplies for the next few months, I am now able to save up to cover the costs of my sons education, says Tharshani who was also among those that received the emergency relief packs.

2020 marked the 25th anniversary of the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which set out how to remove the systemic barriers that hold women back from equal participation in all areas of life. To ensure economic empowerment of female heads of households like Tharshani, COVID-19 is a reminder that urgent action is needed to invest in the future of women and girls in Sri Lanka, and around the world it added.

(ECONOMYNEXT)



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‘Those who fear exposure making a din over Easter Sunday carnage PCoI report – PM

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Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said that some of those who fear that they will be held accountable under the law for the Easter Sunday attacks are now making a big noise over the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the carnage.

“They know that they will be exposed. That’s why they are making a din in the belief they could escape being taken to task under the law”, the premier told The Sunday Island.

Meanwhile, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has declared March 7 as ‘Black Sunday’ to demand justice to the victims of the attacks by bringing before the law those responsible for the carnage.

Church leaders have their congregations to be attired in black when they attend mass on Sunday. Church bells will toll at 8.45 am, the time of the near-simultaneous attacks, and special prayers will be offered for justice for the victims.

Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena said that the CID will begin investigations shortly to initiate the process of filing legal action against those responsible for the Easter Sunday attacks.

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Sri Lankan High Commission in India remains headless for 14 months

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN

Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, March 5:

The Sri Lankan High Commission in India has remained without a Head of Mission for 14 months now.

Veteran civil servant Austin Fernando, who was posted here as the High Commissioner, went back home in January last year.

Former Minister Milinda Moragoda was appointed as the new High Commissioner with a Cabinet rank late last year, and India has accepted the appointment shortly thereafter.

But Moragoda is yet to take charge. It is not clear when he is planning to arrive in India.

Being a large neighbour and in view of excellent relations between the two countries, India is important for Sri Lanka.

Besides, as many as 92 New Delhi-based Ambassadors and High Commissioners are also concurrently accredited to Sri Lanka. Only 41 countries maintain their diplomatic missions in Colombo.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, direct flights between the two countries were suspended early last year. But Air India has been running special flights at regular intervals from Colombo to New Delhi and other cities to bring back Indian nationals stranded in Sri Lanka while on a holiday or a business trip.

India has also created air bubbles to allow flights to over 20 countries, including Bangladesh. But Sri Lanka is not one of them. Negotiations are said to be in progress to make this happen in due course of time.

Sources in Colombo said Moragoda is expected to leave later this month.

 

 

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WFP and Korea to Help Supply Thriposha to Children and Mothers

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COLOMBO – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) are supporting the Government of Sri Lanka with funding worth USD 600,000 (LKR 117 million) to procure maize for the production of Thriposha.

The funding will be used to produce Thriposha, a maize-based fortified food product, which will be provided to 1.1 million mothers and children. The grant from Korea helps ensure continuation of the Thriposha programme, which the Government of Sri Lanka has been conducting for almost 50 years to provide nutrition to undernourished children and pregnant and lactating women.

Thriposha, which means triple nutrients, is a locally produced supplementary food product, provided free of charge to children below 5 years of age who are underweight or with a slow rate of weight gain and pregnant and lactating women with a low body mass index (BMI), through the public health system.

“The world is facing unexpected circumstances while battling with the pandemic,” says Kang Youn Hwa, KOICA Sri Lanka Office Country Director. “The contribution from KOICA for the Thriposha National Programme was extended with the objective of improving the nutritional status of vulnerable people, especially children and pregnant/lactating women who are disproportionately affected by Covid-19. KOICA stands in solidarity with the Government of Sri Lanka during this difficult time.”

This latest contribution forms part of the activities carried out by KOICA — the Official Grants Division to the Embassy of the Republic of Korea — in response to Covid-19. KOICA has been present in Sri Lanka for over two decades, with programmes that support a variety of sectors including education, health, rural development, water management and transportation. One such intervention is the “R5n” programme, a joint project conducted with WFP since 2019. “R5n” aims to improve the lives and livelihoods of rural smallholder farmers by strengthening their resilience to recurring climate shocks, especially drought. KOICA’s support for the procurement of maize to produce Thriposha complements its on-going assistance to the Government of Sri Lanka.

Covid-19 has brought about fresh challenges in the country, including an estimated rise in unemployment and reduced incomes. This affects a family’s ability to access nutritious food and threatens to have long-lasting impacts on the health and nutrition standards in the country. The Thriposha programme provides a readily accessible source of nutrition to mothers and children when they need it the most.

The Ministry of Health requested WFP’s support in ensuring a continuous supply of Thriposha. In response to this, WFP together with KOICA, arranged to provide funding to bolster the Thriposha programme and help safeguard the health and nutrition of women and children.

“WFP has been supporting the Thriposha programme for over a decade, as part of its efforts to improve nutrition standards in the country,” says Andrea Berardo, Deputy Country Director of WFP Sri Lanka, highlighting that Sri Lanka ranks among the countries with the highest rates of wasting, known as thinness, among children under 5 years of age (15 percent). “This latest contribution reflects our long-standing support to the government to not just treat, but also prevent these high rates of malnutrition and importantly, safeguard development gains made within the country.”

In 2021 and beyond, WFP will continue to work with the government to enhance the national health system as part of its efforts in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 of enhancing food security and improving nutrition in the country.

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