Thank you Mr. President.
1. I congratulate the Presidency for organizing this open debate, and I wish to thank the Secretary General for his opening statement and acknowledge the contributions made by the Executive Director of UN Women and other distinguished delegates and representatives.
2. Resolution 1325 was a landmark resolution rightly focusing on the differential impact of armed conflict on women and girls, and their exclusion from conflict prevention, peacebuilding and peacekeeping. There is undoubtedly an inextricable link between gender inequality and international peace and security.
3. Sri Lanka has emerged from a thirty year conflict, that has left deep seated scars in our society, and torn apart the socio-economic fabric of our nation. Women were major victims of this conflict.
4. Since January 2015, a new president and government was elected, committed to democratic values, and to moving forward as an engaged member of the world community.
5. We have already started taking steps aimed at achieving meaningful reconciliation, strengthening democratic institutions, good governance, the rule of law, and confidence building among communities affected by conflict for many years. We have renewed our commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
6. Historically, Sri Lanka has made strides in the area of women’s empowerment. Universal Adult Franchise was introduced in Sri Lanka in 1931, free education for both boys and girls and free health care were introduced very early after Independence in 1948. Sri Lanka adopted a Women’s Charter two years before the “Beijing Platform for Action,” and we already have a National Plan of Action on Women in place. This Action plan is currently being updated.
7. Yet, we know that more remains to be done. Sri Lanka takes the responsibility of ensuring the promotion and protection of the rights of women very seriously, including conflict related sexual violence and sexual exploitation and abuse, as a matter of urgent priority.
8. Sri Lanka’s new government has demonstrated the political will not merely to make international commitment statements, but also to make time bound national commitments with a view to speedy and effective implementation.
9. We are aware that the long drawn out conflict has resulted in a large number of victims -- orphans, war widows, single mothers and women headed households. We are committed to addressing their immediate concerns, and making them participants in all areas of peacebuilding and peacekeeping.
10. Successful peace building requires gender equality and women’s empowerment, human security, human rights and development, to mesh together. Financial stability is an important factor in this regard.
11. It is also vital that we engage the domestic actors from the grassroots to the highest echelons of government to ensure ownership of peacebuilding processes, and guarantee long-term sustainability. In all these endeavors, we are committed to including women as essential participants in the conversation.
12. This can only be done by acknowledging the existence of institutionalized structural gender bias, identifying the problems, and sincerely seeking solutions.
13. For over five decades, Sri Lanka has been making modest contributions to UN peacekeeping efforts. Sri Lanka acknowledges the importance of women in peacekeeping and peacebuilding. It is committed to purposefully including women at all levels of these processes, including at the decision making and policy setting stages. We are equally committed to including our highly trained and disciplined women forces in peacekeeping efforts.
14. We welcome the formal launch today of the Global Study on the Implementation of Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security led by prominent expert Radhika Coomaraswamy. We will closely study its recommendations, to further the shared goal that women remain at the center of peace processes.
15. I wish to give the assurance that as we proceed with our reconciliation and peace building process with the active participation of women at all levels, we will continue to share our experiences and practices, especially in relation to the implementation of the women peace and security agenda.