Central Provincial Council Focus on Needs of Women
The Central Provincial Council (CPC) recently convened a high-powered meeting to develop a policy that would meet the special needs of women. CPC Minister of Industries, Sports, Women Affairs, Rural Development, Development of Estate Infrastructure, Hindu Cultural Activities, Education (Tamil) and Youth Affairs Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon, several members of the Council including Saraswathi Sivaguru and Chitra Manthilaka and senior officials were present.
One speaker noted that only Rs 5.0 million was allocated in the 2014 CPC to address needs of women. It was also noted that several female senior officials including government agents of the region were denied the right to vote in the election for the post of Diayawadana Nilame, the lay custodian of the temple of the Tooth. If men held those positions they automatically qualified to vote.
Former ministry secretary Ms. Lalitha Herath (SLAS Retired) in her presentation focused on the 1993 Women's Charter that was approved by the government of Sri Lanka. The present secretary of the CPC Ministry of Health and Women's Affairs K. Kekulandera presented the constitutional and legal rights that women in Sri Lanka already have. However, the consensus of those present at the meeting was that such legal provisions largely remained dormant because owing to the lack of political will, intuitional mechanisms or resources they remained largely unimplemented. This, it was observed, was not something unique to the Central Province but prevalent more
generally in the country. For a nation that produced the world's first woman prime minister over fifty years ago and, more recently, had a woman executive president presiding over the nation's affairs for eleven years this was deemed to be a virtual embarrassment.
Several speakers referred to the plight of women who go to the Middle East for jobs as housemaids and suffer indignities and harassment and even physical violence. One speaker pointed out that women who were victims of domestic violence in Sri Lanka were reluctant to go to the police even when it was a criminal offence because if the perpetrator or accused, who often was the husband, is taken into custody, the breadwinner of the household would be no longer available to earn an income to support the family.
A committee of officials of the CPC under the chairmanship of Ministry Secretary Kekulandera was appointed to prepare a set of proposals to guide the policy of the Council on women.
Care International under its project manager W M R Wijayakoon sponsored the seminar.
KMC's Bottom-up Development Gathers Momentum
Kandy Mayor Mahindra Ratwatte says that he is vigorously pursuing his bottom-up approach to development of the city and suburbs that come under the KMC. Some months ago he started off by visiting the 45 Grama Sevaka (GS) divisions to talk about solid waste disposal. Twenty-three are from the Kandy electorate and twenty-two are from Senkadagala. Now he, his fellow councilors, and KMC officials are visiting the wards to identify the development needs and other concerns of the people.
The mayor's initiative is receiving bipartisan support with members from both sides of the isle joining the community visits and consultation. A representative of the police and members of the Kandy Development Committee also participate in the meetings.
KMC is contributing Rs 250,000 from the 2014 budget for each GS division. The central government reportedly provides funds for development work to the two UPFA “Organizers” of the two electorates Thilina Tennakoon and Dilum Amunugama. They in turn have decided to allocate Rs 250,000 from the funds that they receive for each of the GS divisions doubling the amount available to Rs 500,000. The two government politicians have promised more such funds to the mayor in the coming months.
The mayor plans to revisit the GS divisions after about six months to check on the progress of the projects that are being implemented and to identify new projects for the future.