The UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer has called for more women to be elected to Parliament.
She said that in Sri Lanka, women have seen dramatic development gains over the years.
“Today, Sri Lankan women have long life spans, inroads with education and health, and a high literacy rate. Yet power gaps persist,” she said.
Hanaa Singer said that the last Parliament had only 12 women in the 225-seat legislative body, short of the global tally of one-quarter.
However, she said that the upcoming Parliamentary elections are an opportunity to increase women’s meaningful participation in public life.
“Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality, calls for empowering women to enter traditionally male dominated spaces. A commitment by all political parties to harness the contribution of women provides an ideal opportunity for Sri Lanka to advance its development agenda with women in decision-making roles,” she added.
She said that there needs to be more women in public and political life and one cannot afford to slide backwards.
“We must forge ahead with women’s equality and make this last decade for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals a Decade of Action and also a Decade of Equality. Gender equality can be achieved in our lifetimes. It begins with a mindset shift and is supported by policy changes, enabling environments, and transformational change in all areas of life,” she said.
Hanaa Singer also said that twenty-five years after the Beijing Declaration, a consensus of world leaders to accelerate women’s equality and broaden approaches to women’s issues, bold steps have been taken towards balancing the playing field.
However, she says a new report released on the cusp of International Women’s Day shows that it’s not just about policy, but about principle.
The UN Development Programme Gender Social Norms Index found that almost 90 percent of the world is biased against women. More than half of respondents said that men are better at leadership roles than women, and 40 percent said that men are better suited for politics. (Colombo Gazette)