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Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus calls on all to stand in solidarity with the Global Activism against Gender-Based Violence

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The Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus is calling on all Sri Lankans to pledge solidarity with the Global Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) that will be carrying out a series of advocacy measures during the 16-day campaign against Gender-Based Violence.

The female parliamentarians’ movement has said that while Sri Lanka is facing new vulnerabilities with the current economic crisis, women and girl children are at greater risk.

The Caucus has, in a statement, noted that even prior to the economic crisis, women and the girl child did not enjoy complete freedom, opportunities and safety due to the grave human rights violation of gender-based violence.

The Women’s Wellbeing Survey 2019 conducted by the Department of Census and Statistics reported that during their lifetime, 20 percent of the ever-partnered women have faced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner and that 25 percent of women have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner or a non-partner after 15 years of age. 18 percent expressed that they were subjected to economic abuse by a partner in their lifetime. 21 percent of the women who experienced violence by a partner had never expressed it to anyone before the interviews.

“The economic crisis has certainly made these already vulnerable individuals at further risk. High inflation rates and the resulting hunger, nutritional crisis, expenditure struggles at homes, rising poverty levels, social unrest, reduction in healthcare assistance including reproductive health and other services would only make women and girls more vulnerable to gender based violence and its resultant adverse impact on them,” the statement said.

The global theme of the campaign 2022 is UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls.

“It emphasises that without unity GBV cannot be combatted, thus calling on governments, development partners, CSOs, youth, media and all other stakeholders to come together to fight against GBV. Therefore, the 16 days of activism against GBV is an important advocacy period for our goal to advocate for and ensure equal grounds for women in Sri Lanka.” Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, Chairperson, Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus (WPC) said.

MP Rohini Kaviratne, Deputy Co- Chairperson, WPC said GBV is nothing new to women in Sri Lanka. “We as women have to face it always. But, that doesn’t make it okay. We cannot let it be normalised. As women parliamentarians we always face verbal violence based on our gender. During elections, and whenever someone needs to disgrace us, the most common weapon used is our gender roles and the stereotypical thinking that stigmatised our roles in the public sphere and stepping out of the house to be a leader in politics, as a female parliamentarian. We should fight this. We should fight any form of GBV.”

“Today we enter into this year’s 16 days of global activism against GBV, within this grave context in Sri Lanka. As women parliamentarians, we take it very seriously. We have always sought to bring about, or at least improve gender equality in Sri Lanka as people’s representatives,” Geetha Kumarasinghe, State Minister of Women and Child Affairs said.

“We urge all Sri Lankans to have zero tolerance for any kind of violence or sexual harassment committed against any human being by showing strong aversion coupled with adequate responses expressing zero tolerance for such acts of GBV. It is our indifference that causes the perpetrators to normalize these human rights violations they commit. So, we should act, not be silent and be passive observers,” Diana Gamage, State Minister of Tourism urged.

“We understand that this is an era where society has lost trust in parliamentarians in general. However, despite our party differences, we, as twelve female parliamentarians, stand in unity with the global community to fight against GBV, particularly to empower women in Sri Lanka to stand against GBV,” MP Manjula Dissanayake, Member of WPC commented.

Parliamentarian Dr. Harini Amarasuriya, Member of WPC said the Caucus is in the process of supporting the drafting of a Women’s Bill to be presented to parliament.

“However, we are also conscious that laws alone do not effect change and that there is a lot of work that needs to be done institutionally and politically to ensure that the bill when passed will make a meaningful difference in the lives of women in Sri Lanka,” she added.

To stand in solidarity with this global movement, the female parliamentarians will be carrying out a series of advocacy measures starting from 25th November.

They are conducting two panel discussions on combating GBV on 28th and 29th November and also a press conference on 1st December.

On the day of the press conference, a wristband with the message “Let’s Unite to end Gender Based Violence” will be tied on Parliamentarians as a solidarity measure and all women MPs will be invited to come in Orange attire. This will take place in the recently established Gender and Social Inclusion Section of the Parliament Library which contains publications relevant to gender equality and social inclusion available for reference by all MPs.

All these activities will be carried out hand in hand with the Parliament Communications Department and the Parliament Secretariat in the hope of raising awareness among Parliamentarians and the public against GBV.



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Pakistan’s ex-president, Pervez Musharraf dies aged 79

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(picture BBC)

BBC reported that Pakistan’s former president General Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, has died aged 79.

The former leader – who was president between 2001 and 2008 – died after a long illness, a statement from the country’s army said.

He had survived numerous assassination attempts, and found himself on the front line of the struggle between militant Islamists and the West.

He supported the US “war on terror” after 9/11 despite domestic opposition.

In 2008 he suffered defeat in the polls and left the country six months later.

When he returned in 2013 to try to contest the election, he was arrested and barred from standing. He was charged with high treason and was sentenced to death in absentia only for the decision to be overturned less than a month later.

He left Pakistan for Dubai in 2016 to seek medical treatment and had been living in exile in the country ever since.

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The 75th Anniversary of National Independence celebrated under the patronage of President, PM

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(picture Presidents Media)

The 75th National Independence Day celebration was held under the theme “Namo Namo Mata – A Step towards the Century”, under the patronage of President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Saturday morning (04) at Galle Face Green.

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Lanka sovereign bond holders write to the IMF

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ECONOMYNEXT –Sri Lanka’s bondholders have written to the International Monetary Fund expressing their willingness to engage in debt re-structuring talks but also raising matters related to the domestic debt re-structuring and economic assumptions and forecasts.

The group, styling itself as the “Ad Hoc Group of Sri Lanka Bondholders (the Bondholder Group) has written last week to the IMF Managing Director from New York said inter alia that the Bondholder Group through its Steering Committee stands ready to engage quickly and effectively with the Sri Lankan authorities to design and implement restructuring terms that would help Sri Lanka restore debt sustainability and allow the country to re-gain access to the international capital markets during the IMF Programme period.

The letter concluded with the paragraph: Recognizing the important commitments made by India in the India Letter, the Sri Lankan authorities will apply the principle of comparable treatment in respect of the debt relief requested and obtained from all their remaining official bilateral creditors.

Following is the text of the letter:

NEW YORK, Feb. 3, 2023

Dear Managing Director Georgieva,The Ad Hoc Group of Sri Lanka Bondholders (the “Bondholder Group”) acknowledges the Sri Lankan authorities’ engagement with their official creditors towards a resolution of the current crisis and restoration of debt sustainability.

The Bondholder Group further acknowledges that such engagement has recently resulted in the Government of India (in its letter to the IMF, dated January 16, 2023 (the “India Letter”)) delivering letters of financing assurances, committing to support Sri Lanka and contribute to its efforts to restore debt sustainability by providing debt relief and financing consistent with the IMF Extended Fund Facility Arrangement (the “IMF Programme”) and the IMF Programme targets indicated in the India Letter.

Similarly, the Bondholder Group through its Steering Committee stands ready to engage quickly and effectively with the Sri Lankan authorities to design and implement restructuring terms that would help Sri Lanka restore debt sustainability and allow the country to re-gain access to the international capital markets during the IMF Programme period.

Based on the limited information available to us at this time, including information contained in the India Letter, we understand that the IMF Programme’s debt sustainability targets are identified as

(i) reducing the ratio of public debt to GDP to 95% by 2032,

(ii) limiting the central government’s annual gross financing needs to GDP ratio to 13% in the period between 2027 and 2032, and central government annual foreign currency debt service at 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032 and

(iii) closing of the external financing gap.

The Bondholder Group hereby confirms it is prepared to engage, through its Steering Committee, with the Sri Lankan authorities in restructuring negotiations consistent with the parameters of an IMF Programme and the targets specified therein (the “IMF Programme Targets”), which the Bondholder Group understands to be the targets identified in the India Letter; it being recognized that these negotiations will necessarily be further informed by the receipt of the forthcoming DSA.

We would note that the finalization of an agreement will also be subject to the satisfaction of the following conditions:

The central government’s domestic debt – defined as debt governed by local law – is reorganized in a manner that both ensures debt sustainability and safeguards financial stability.

Assuming that annual gross financing needs should not exceed 13% of GDP in the period between 2027 and 2032, whilst allowing for central government annual foreign currency debt service to reach 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032, domestic gross financing should therefore be limited at 8.5% of GDP for the period 2027-2032.

While we recognize that the determination of the economic assumptions underpinning the IMF Programme Targets is ultimately the responsibility of the IMF and that the overall design of the IMF Programme is one that is negotiated between the IMF and Sri Lanka, it is nevertheless important that the Bondholder Group has the opportunity to express its views on both the economic assumptions underpinning these IMF Programme Targets and the adequacy and feasibility of the adjustment efforts contemplated under the IMF Programme.

When considering any restructuring proposal that is made to the Bondholder Group, it is the Bondholder Group’s intention to take into consideration the extent to which the economic assumptions and the adjustment efforts are consistent with these views.

Recognizing the important commitments made by India in the India Letter, the Sri Lankan authorities will apply the principle of comparable treatment in respect of the debt relief requested and obtained from all their remaining official bilateral creditors.

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