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UN Women’s project boosts community role of females here



Lankan women carry the main burden of household work, and therefore they have knowledge and influence that could be channeled to improve community waste management, which is not only harming health and the environment but also causing disputes between different communities, says Asia and the Pacific branch of the UN Women.

The government’s Time-Use Survey of 2017 found that women spend 27.6 per cent more time than men doing housework each day. Yet while women are the ones handling all the household waste, they barely have a voice when it comes to deciding how to manage waste in the larger community.

In Sri Lanka, the local government councils have the primary responsibility for collecting and disposing of waste within their areas. But historically, very few women have held seats on these bodies because of institutional and structural barriers, and gender stereotypes such as that politics is unsuitable for women or that women should just stay at home.

Before the last local elections, in 2018, women held only 1.9 per cent of these seats. A new 25 percent quota for female representation boosted that number, though today, women still hold only 23.7 per cent of seats.

To address the problem of women’s representation and environmental management, UN Women, United Nations Office for Project Services, and Chrysalis, a local non-governmental organisation, are jointly implementing a project called Promoting Women’s Engagement in Effective Solid Waste Management. The 2020-2021 project, funded by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, is expected to directly benefit about 4,000 people in Puttalam and Mannar districts along the country’s western coast. Most people in these districts work in fisheries and in agriculture.

“Through this project, we are working with women to ensure their voices are heard and that they are fully involved in making decisions that impact them, their households and communities,” said Ramaaya Salgado, Country Focal Point at UN Women Sri Lanka. “Solid waste management was identified as the main community issue that this project addresses, but we are building their capacities so that this whole-of-community approach can be replicated in addressing other conflicts and community issues as well.”

Because improper waste disposal harms health, the environment and inter-communal relations, the project brings communities together to develop sustainable solutions for their shared environment — with women at the forefront of that process.

In April 2020, the project organized a series of local-level dialogues in which about 350 elected officials, public officials, women community leaders, members of civil society groups, religious leaders, young people and others in Puttalam and Mannar discussed common issues and solutions to waste management.

UN Women and Chrysalis then gave the dialogue participants training on collective leadership, peace-building and non-violent conflict resolution.

Earlier this month, UN Women organized two town hall meetings that connected local authorities and women community leaders with experts in solid waste management, including environmental and civil engineers, local government officials and environmental activists. The broader aim was to get more women into leadership positions and adopt best practices on solid waste management.

The women participating in the UN Women project include Kaweeda Manohari, 48, a member of the Chilaw Municipal Council in Puttalam, and Dilushani Fernando, a social worker and community leader in Puttalam.

“Recently, I had to be a mediator to a conflict between two parties,” Manohari said. “Since it was fresh in my mind, I was able to use some of the techniques I learned at our training to help the two parties arrive at a compromise and push for a legal solution to their issue.”

Fernando said: “I learned a lot about waste segregation and the economic benefits of upcycling while reducing waste. Now I always think twice before throwing away something. I use it to create something new instead. This is what I hope to teach young children in my community.”

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President requests the opposition to support the implementation of the IMF agreement




President Ranil Wickremesinghe urged the Opposition to unite and disregard political differences to assist in carrying out the IMF agreement, which would aid in the development of Sri Lanka’s economy.

The President emphasized that his duty is not to condemn previous administrations but to concentrate on the development of the country. He also declared his dedication to constructing a better future by creating laws and frameworks that prevent the recurrence of past errors.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered this message in a special address to Parliament this morning (22) regarding the receipt of the Extended Credit Facility from the International Monetary Fund.

He stated that despite allegations being leveled against him that his objective was not to rescue the country from an economic crisis but to safeguard the Rajapaksa family, the international community had acknowledged his efforts to carry the country across the economic vine bridge.

The President further said that he had faith in rebuilding the beloved country where he was born, brought up and educated, and said that many past experiences were the reasons for confirming that faith.

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SJB, JVP move SC against Finance Secy. for contempt of court



The main Opposition, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday (21) moved Supreme Court against Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana over his failure to provide funds required by the Election Commission to conduct the Local Government polls, ignoring an interim order issued by the apex court, on 03 March.

Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, is the petitioner for the SJB and Vijitha Herath, MP, moved court on behalf of the JVP, the leading party in the Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB).

Two Opposition parties declared action against Siriwardana the day after the Freedom People’s Alliance (FPA) issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Finance Secretary to release the funds.

EC Chairman Nimal Punchihewa is on record as having said that in spite of SC directive he didn’t receive fresh funding.

The petitioners sought the issuance of summons on Siriwardana for contempt of court over failure to carry out its interim orders, given on 03 March.

The petitioners want the Finance Secretary punished in terms of Article 105 (3) of the Constitution.

The SJB stated that Siriwardana had refrained from carrying out the March directives, on the basis of a Cabinet decision, taken on 13 Feb., 2023. The SJB also pointed out that the offensive conduct of the Treasury Secretary, inter alia, causes grave prejudice to the esteemed authority of the Supreme Court and in turn disturb the public confidence in the authority of the highest Court in the country. (SF)

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Minister indicates reduction in fuel prices in April



Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara told Parliament yesterday that fuel prices would be reduced considerably according to the fuel price formula at the next fuel price revision, due in April.

The Minister said that the government would be able to procure fuel shipments, at lower prices, during competitive bidding, with the receipt of the IMF bailout.

There had been practical issues, and problems, in opening Letters of Credit, and obtaining credit facilities, in the recent past, as Sri Lanka could not give a guarantee to fuel suppliers, Minister Wijesekara said.

“We could not open LCs and obtain credit facilities when procuring fuel. After the IMF bailout, we will be able to procure fuel at lower prices during competitive biddings. We will be able to obtain a long-term credit facility as well. Fuel prices in the global market seem to have declined and the rupee has also gained strength against the US Dollar. Having considered all these factors, fuel prices will be reduced by a considerable margin which could be felt by the people,” he said.

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