National Action Plan launched to address sexual violence

launchA National Action Plan to address Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) was officially launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs and the United Nations Development Prorgamme (UNDP) in Colombo today.

The National Action Plan, developed on the vision of creating “a violence free life for women and children” with Zero Tolerance for Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Sri Lanka, is significant as it was formulated using a multi-sectoral approach with engagement from key ministries representing nine sectors.

Some of the lead Ministries include the Ministry of Disaster Management, the Ministry of National Policy and Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training, University Grants Commission, Ministry of Labour and Trade Union Relations, Ministry of Plantation Industries, Department of Divineguma, the Ministry of Foreign Employment, the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Mass Media, Ministry of Law and Order, Sri Lanka Police and the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs.

Speaking at the launch of the National Action Plan, Chandrani Bandara, Minister of Women and Child Affairs stated that the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs is particularly happy that several leading ministries/ institutions from different sectors, UN agencies, INGOs and NGOs have joined hands with in developing the Plan and ensured a multi-sectoral engagement, thereby putting in place a comprehensive holistic National Plan.

“The uniqueness of the Plan is in this collaboration for a coordinated response to address SGBV. The support extended by UNDP has greatly strengthened the efforts of the Ministry…Let’s commit to implement this Plan and make our country a place where there is zero tolerance of sexual and gender-based violence,” she said.

The National Action Plan is part of a project under the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs, supported by UNDP’s Strengthening Enforcement of Law, Access to Justice and Social Integration (SELAJSI) Programme.

The SELAJSI Programme of the UNDP Sri Lanka works to ensure that gains in the justice sector are institutionalized, systematized and scaled-up. This Programme adopts a sector-wide, sequenced and strategic approach to address a number of high priority issues in Sri Lanka. These include the need to strengthen legal aid services, alternate dispute resolution mechanisms and the administration of justice, as well as the need for increased action on social integration, placing emphasis on the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in society and ensuring the engagement and empowerment of women and youth.

At the event, Una McCauley, Resident Coordinator of UN Sri Lanka and Resident Representative of UNDP Sri Lanka stated that the National Action Plan is a clear indication of the political will of the Government of Sri Lanka through a comprehensive and multi-sectoral framework involving three important dimensions; Prevention, Intervention and Policy Advocacy.

She said the UN System in Sri Lanka looks forward to working together with the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs and other partners to eliminate all forms of sexual and gender based violence against women, men, boys and girls. (Colombo Gazette)