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US recognizes Sri Lanka's support to women's leadership initiative

2013 Aug 01

Lankas support to womens leadershipSri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States Jaliya Wickramasuriya recently underscored the remarkable progress that Sri Lanka has achieved in terms of gender equality before an audience of international women leaders. 

“Sri Lanka is one of the oldest democracies in Asia with over 2,500 years of written history and a rich heritage. Sri Lankan women have enjoyed the universal suffrage since its introduction at home in 1931.  We are very proud that Sri Lanka produced the world’s first lady  head of government Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike in 1960 and to have been administered by women leaders for 23 years since  independence from colonial rule in 1948”, the Ambassador observed.

 

Ambassador Wickramasuriya made these remarks when he addressed the delegates of the Women in Public Service Project Institute of  Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania at a dinner reception hosted at the Sri Lanka Residence in Washington, DC. The delegation was in the United States to attend a two-week program for  emerging women leaders from of post-conflict countries organized by Bryn Mawr College in cooperation with the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP). The participants of this programme were made up of women parliamentarians, senior civil servants, government officials and academics from the world over.

 

The Ambassador further opined that the dawn of peace in Sri Lanka has greatly expanded the opportunities of success for  Sri Lankan women to succeed in fields of their choice.

 

“For three decades, Sri Lankan women, men and children suffered terribly from a conflict with a ruthless terrorist organization. Sri Lanka was able to begin to usher in  a lasting and honorable peace to all communities after defeating terrorism in 2009 . Under the visionary leadership of  President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka  is now  a peaceful and reconciled society, which is governed by democracy, the observance of human rights and the rule of law” he added.

 

Ambassador Wickramasuriya also presented some of the international indicators directly related to country's recent progress in gender equality.

 

“The World Economic Forum in its Gender Gap  Report in 2012 ranked Sri Lanka at the 39th position on the global gender gap index . The same report ranked Sri Lanka among the best countries for women’s health and survival and also at the number 22 for political and empowerment of women. In March 2012, the prominent UK newspaper ‘The Independent’ called Sri Lanka the best place for a woman to be the Head of the State”, he said.

 

“ This year, the UNDP in its Human Development Report elevated Sri Lanka’s ranking in the Human Development Index to the “High” category. The report ranked Sri Lanka 75th in the gender equality index. Also, it indicates that at least 72.6% of   our female population have access to secondary education  against a corresponding figure of 75.5% for the males.  Our maternal mortality ratio is as low as 35 deaths per 100,000 live births. All these figures show that Sri Lanka is far ahead of its regional peers when it comes to gender equality” he added.

 

 Ambassador Wickramasuriya thanked  the WPSP officials  for the opportunity given for the Embassy of Sri Lanka to treat the distinguished women leaders with Sri Lankan hospitality.  He also invited the project participants to visit Sri Lanka to familiarize themselves with   what  he has told them.

 

Executive Director for the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Former US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues,  Melanne Verveer addressing the gathering said the purpose of the WPSP is  to inspire women’s leadership globally.

 

She highlighted the  importance of women’s leadership and engagement in decision making at national level to advance progress in countries.

 

Ambassador  Verveer also opined that women’s engagement is critical for the success of the countries moving from conflict to the end of conflict and to a better life for all the people . She thanked the Embassy of Sri Lanka for actively supporting WPSP and urged Sri Lankan women leaders to continue their contribution to the national reconciliation process.

 

The Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) was launched in 2011 under the direction of then US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton  to advance women to positions of influence in governments and civic organizations worldwide. The project is co-sponsored by the US Department of State , the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and five leading women’s colleges in the United States.http://www.news.lk/news/sri-lanka/6135-us-recognizes-sri-lankas-support-to-womens-leadership-initiative

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