SL’s G7 partners to support Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment for COVID-19 recovery | Daily News

SL’s G7 partners to support Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment for COVID-19 recovery

The year 2020 marked 20 years since the adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on ‘Women, Peace, and Security’—a groundbreaking resolution that enshrined the essential role of women in securing and maintaining peace, UN Women stated in a press release.

In Sri Lanka, women’s role in society altered significantly, as more women became heads of households during the 30-year conflict, and women’s role and inclusion in peace-building efforts became more vital than ever as they worked against tremendous odds for sustainable development and peace in their communities.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, however, has hindered these efforts and intensified inequalities, reversing the limited gains on gender equality and women’s empowerment in Sri Lanka and around the world. To address the challenges particularly posed by COVID-19 for women, the G7+ Working Group on ‘Women, Peace, and Security’ was recently co-convened by the Women and Child Development State Ministry, the Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka, and UN Women.

At the meeting, K.M.S.D. Jayasekara, Secretary to the State Ministry of Women and Child Development, in a pre-recorded video statement, said; “The State Ministry is committed to formulate and execute programmes to enhance legal, institutional, and human resource services to strengthen mechanisms for economic, social and educational empowerment of women by aligning national priorities—particularly the National Policy Framework Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor—in line with international standards of gender equality and women’s empowerment. In doing so, promoting the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda in Sri Lanka is a key priority.”

The G7+ Working Group was established to take forward the ‘Women, Peace, and Security’ Agenda in the country, through the development and implementation of a National Action Plan to respond to the needs and priorities of women affected by conflict.

Reiterating their commitment, Kitamura Toshihiro, Minister and Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka, stated, “Japan has been supporting peace and development in Sri Lanka for many years, and become a partner country of Sri Lanka under the G7 Initiatives on ‘Women, Peace, and Security’ in 2018, to contribute to the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment, as well as to strengthen women’s rights in Sri Lanka.

“As the partner and lead country for Sri Lanka, Japan has granted USD 6 million so far to advance the ‘Women, Peace, and Security’ Agenda through UN agencies, in addition to the support provided by Japan International Technical Cooperation,” he added.

The Working Group comprises representatives from G7 countries, the Government of Sri Lanka, UN agencies, and development actors. It acts as a knowledge-sharing platform for best practices on gender equality, and the first of its kind multilateral coordination effort with the Government of Sri Lanka to promote women’s empowerment in the country, particularly amidst the ongoing pandemic.

Speaking on the fundamental need for women’s rights and women’s leadership to be at the centre of recovery efforts, Prashani Dias, Country Focal Point a.i at UN Women Sri Lanka, said, “Women’s economic empowerment is central to realising women’s rights and gender equality. Through our collective efforts, we offer a gender perspective for policymakers when making important decisions during and after crisis situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic”.

With less than a decade left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, making a conscious effort to put women front and centre of both immediate and long-term responses, and implementing the ‘Women, Peace, and Security’ agenda in Sri Lanka will contribute to recovering better from the pandemic by accelerating progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment.