The Women Parliamentarian’s Caucus (WPC) of Sri Lanka, held a program called ‘Embrace Her for a Real Change’ to mark the International Women’s Day in Kilinochchi at the Cooperative Hall on the 22nd of March 2017.
Given that there are a unique sets of issues faced by women in the North, who have had first-hand experiences of the war, the Caucus decided to have its Women’s Day celebration in the North, providing an opportunity for women from the North to engage with the members of the Caucus.
On the invitation of the Caucus, Ministry of Foreign Employment, Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement, and Hindu Religious Affairs, Ministry of City Planning and Water Supply, Ministry of Primary Industries, Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation, Ministry of Development Strategies, and International Trade, Ministry of Women and Child Affairs were present at this event.
More than 700 women participants who came from Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Kilinochchi, and Mannar were present at the event. Nine Women Parliamentarians, Hon. Swaminathan, Minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement, and Hindu Religious Affairs, Michael Newman First Secretary of the Australian High Commission, Shelley Whiting Canadian High Commissioner also graced the occasion as special guests.
Hon. Chandrani Bandara, Minister of Women and Child Affairs, and the chairperson of WPC in her welcome speech elaborated that the main purpose of holding IWD in the north is to extend their (WPC) friendship and collaboration with women in the north and to initiate a process of dialogue
Mr. Michael Newman, First Secretary Australian Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) addressing the gathering highlighted Australia’s commitment to achieving gender equality both in Australia and with their partner countries. In his speech, he stressed that the political empowerment of women is one of the most powerful tools at the disposal of any government to keep communities strong and the economy resilient.
Hon. Shanthi Sriskandarasa, TNA MP from Wanni, in her speech further explained why the IWD event was held in Kilinochchi, and that it was to recognize the women from the North for their resilience and hardships faced. Hon. Shanthi highlighted the rough conditions, in which women in the North live, She also acknowledged the efforts of various NGOs to alleviate the situation but that the issue of poverty remains and that they must reflect on constructively with self-criticism if they are to do better going forward