Address by Hon Dinesh Gunawardena,
Foreign Minister of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka at the High-Level Meeting on the 25th Anniversary of the 4th World Conference on Women
01 October 2020
Theme: “Accelerating the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”
Ladies and gentlemen,
• I am honored to represent Sri Lanka at this High-Level Meeting to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the 4th World Conference on women.
• Undoubtedly, the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, which was adopted during the 4th World Conference on Women in 1995 is a landmark global agenda for the empowerment of women. This comprehensive policy document remains relevant today as it was 25 years ago, as a source of guidance and inspiration for the advancement of women and the achievement of gender equality, globally.
• While recognizing that vital steps have been taken by the global community towards achieving gender equality and empowering women, we also acknowledge that challenges and obstacles continue to remain, impeding the socio-economic and political development of women.
• Across every sphere, from health to economy, negative impacts of COVID-19 have affected women and girls worldwide. It is therefore essential to keep gender equality and women in the forefront amidst global efforts to recover from this pandemic.
• Historically, Sri Lanka has demonstrated its commitment and political will to promote, gender equality and the empowerment of women, being cognizant of their invaluable contribution to the social and economic development of the country.
• It is very encouraging to note that the women in Sri Lanka, comprising more than half of our population, have achieved social development indicators such as literacy rates, social inclusion and life expectancy, which are on par with the developed countries.
• I am very proud to acknowledge the achievements of women in my country, who play a significant role in every sphere. Sri Lankan women were granted voting rights (universal franchise) in 1931. Sri Lanka produced the first female Prime Minister in the world in 1960.Sri Lankan women have continued to hold several high-ranking positions in the country as Members of Parliament and local Government, Secretaries to Ministries, Heads of Diplomatic Missions, and the Judiciary. Women represent half of the working population in the country and excel in higher education. Their contribution to the national economy is very significant. Women represent 34.5% of the labour force while 39% of expatriate work force consists of women.
• The Government, headed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has received an overwhelming mandate by the Sri Lankan people, is committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), among which the fifth Goal is to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”
• In our Government’s National Policy Framework (“Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour”), 10 key policy areas have been identified to achieve a fourfold outcome of ‘a productive citizenry, a contented family, a disciplined and just society and a prosperous nation’. In this framework, priority has been given to gender-based equality, empowerment of women and minimization of gender-based violence.
• In line with the above policy framework, the Government will facilitate and ensure the contribution of Sri Lankan women to the betterment of our society as an equal player, in an environment where women will make their own decisions and will be free to reach their aspirations and will not be subject to any violence or discrimination.
• In this context, Sri Lanka fully supports the theme of this meeting, i.e. “Accelerating the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”
• In conclusion, Sri Lanka reaffirms its commitment the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, which should be our shared commitment towards a inclusive and sustainable development.
• I wish to conclude by quoting the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day in Sri Lanka, which is, “Woman’s Courage- Nation’s Strength.”
The video link to the statement : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tg50XWn1WOg