72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Item 29: Advancement of Women
H.E. Dr. Rohan Perera
Permanent Representative of
The Permanent Mission of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the UN
06 October 2017
At the outset let me congratulate you and your fellow Bureau members on your election to this important Committee.
The Delegation of Sri Lanka associates itself with the statement made by Ecuador on behalf of the G77 and China.
We also take note of the reports presented by the Secretary-General under this agenda item.
As we enter the second year of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the importance of gender mainstreaming has become even more urgent considering the rapidity of the changes that are taking place across the globe. In the past two years, we have had to combat an unprecedented number of natural disasters as well as some of the bloodiest conflicts in the world. In all these disasters and conflicts, women and children were among the most vulnerable groups. We all agree that, females have the capacity to become proponents of development, the change-makers and creators of a better world, Therefore, empowering them has become all the more critical, at this point of time in history.
It is in this context that Sri Lanka has taken a number of steps to ensure that women will have a platform to contribute to development and to become more resilient in the times of conflict and natural disasters.
Sri Lanka is a country which has emerged from a long drawn conflict. Women and children were the prime victims of this conflict. The question of female headed households was a key challenge that we had to face. Research has shown that female-headed households remain vulnerable to conditions of poverty, violence and social exclusion due to lack of opportunities, access to services and means of uplifting their livelihoods.
This spurred, the Government along with the UN organizations, to launch multiple programmes to address issues of female headed households particularly on their livelihoods, safety, security, and reproductive health. A study has been carried out a few months ago to update the data on female-headed households, the nature of current interventions and gaps in implementation. The Ministry of Women and Child Affairs is currently working to implement the recommendations of this study. The core thrust of all these programmes is to empower these women to move forward, with confidence.
Sri Lanka has also recognized the positive contribution that women could make to society as agents of reconciliation and peace building.
The Civil society Consultation Task Force (CTF) on national reconciliation processes, which has been constituted to engage the public on a transitional justice mechanism, is chaired by a woman and has a majority of female members. They have conferred widely with all stakeholders including women and provided valuable inputs for the reconciliation efforts of the government. One of the key recommendations of this Task Force, is to empower women with skills set that will boost their involvement in peace building activities. The government has placed high priority in implementing this recommendation.
Many studies have been done on the link between natural disasters and gender based violence. Sri Lanka also faced a wave of natural disasters in the past two years and it became evident that women are vulnerable to natural disasters and in their aftermath. Healthcare facilities are often compromised, during such periods, hence, women, especially pregnant women miss out on essential pre-natal care.
During the recent floods in Sri Lanka, the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs and women’s NGO networks stepped up their endeavours to support women, by engaging them more on the relief work. They distributed dignity kits and held awareness sessions on gender based violence. To provide further care and support, a series of mobile medical clinics run by women from the affected communities were initiated. With their knowledge and experience regarding the environment, these women stepped up to meet the challenge. This is another example that illustrates the need for women to be integrated at all levels in the disaster management cycle.
The Government has increased women-centered public awareness and skills training in disaster preparedness and equip them with the skills necessary to overcome disasters.
Our experience on the significant role of women in the above situations undoubtedly applies to rest of the word.
We will continue our efforts towards post-conflict peace building, while recognizing the vital role women play in that process. We have taken a number of steps to ensure that their leadership skills are improved and to elevate their contribution in this area.
We have also taken many steps in increasing their work force participation to expand their economic mobility and to address many issues including the gender based sexual violence.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman,
Sri Lanka reaffirms its commitment to gender mainstreaming that ensures that all aspects of the economic and social spheres account for the role of women, and we do not leave behind this major and incredibly vital component of development.
I thank you.