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NMSJ: A Happy International Women’s Day!

Press Release by the National Movement for Social Justice On the occasion of the International Women’s Day 2022

As the world sets to celebrate the International Women’s Day on the theme “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow”, the NMSJ reiterates it’s commitment to uphold gender equality and value diversity that women continue to bring into the society, economy and governance. The last two years was a reminder to the world of the power and ability of women to successfully face calamity and disturbance in the face of the pandemic where they demonstrated what women can do and where they needs to be recognised. In Sri Lanka, women in majority faced extra challenges coping with household chores and work life balances in the pandemic, household economic pressures resulting from the current crisis, continuing violence against women, loss of opportunity and participation in decisions, however amidst adversity made significant contributions in the overall pandemic recovery and retaining normalcy in family, community and the country. We salute all women who made these contributions and sacrifices how small or big those efforts are.

Women empowerment is one of the key pillars of the NMSJ policy. In its present phase, under the leadership of Hon. Karu Jayasuriya, NMSJ could redefine their strategy and approach towards advancing women empowerment and gender equality in particular nourishing the national dialogue for influencing national policy and development frameworks. During the past two years, NMSJ facilitated dialogues on timely topics on Women Empowerment and gender equality. Discussions were made on the present status, deep rooted causes that contribute to deepening the inequalities as well as ‘what’s in for future’ a list of suggestions and recommendations.

So far, under the NMSJ’s weekly online dialogue ‘Kathikawa’, four indepth and diverse discussions  were conducted. The topics included the need for gender transformative policy and programmatic actions, building understanding and reinforce the importance of women’s decision making across spheres, in governance from sub national to national legislature, yielding efficiency through women’s economic empowerment, the need for critical legal reforms including the support to the review of gender discriminatory laws and provide for judicial review of the past legislations, decent work etc, the demand to re-establish a separate Ministry of Women with a cabinet portfolio and ensure sensible and efficient architecture and resources to support gender equality, social protection of vulnerable groups, address gender stereotyping and the important role of citizens and governance, role of media etc.

A diverse group of gender, legal, education, political, administration, media, women and youth activists all contributed to these rich discussions. Dr. Kala Peries, Dr. Vishaka Suriyabandara, Ms. Hemanthi Goonasekara, Ms. Ramani Muttetuwagama, Mr. Rasika Jayakody, Ms. Samadanie Kiriwandeniya, Ms. Savendra Weerasinghe and Ms. Janaki Kathriarachchi are among the key panellists who contributed to the discsussions.

At present, NMSJ is in the process of compiling a common position on the critical issues related to Women and Gender Equality in Sri Lanka with the aim to gather wider perspective and evidence based consultations to share for policy and public dialogue.

At NMSJ, we acknowledge that pre and ongoing COVID-19 scenarios present an alarming picture of increasing disparities and inequalities that hampers the functioning of democracy, economic efficiency and towards creating a fairer society for all citizens. Hence, we reiterate as a country we must together find solutions to address them so that all genders live in an equitable and peaceful democracy.

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