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Act on Gender Equality & Women Empowerment in Parliament soon – President



President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that a bill on gender equality and women’s empowerment will be submitted to Parliament soon and he has instructed the women’s parliamentarians’ forum to prepare the bill.

The President emphasized that women’s representation should be increased not only in the Parliament but also in other sectors and the public sector as well as the private sector should focus their attention in this regard.

The President pointed out that the representation of women in the First Council of Sri Lanka was 2% and 91 years after universal suffrage, the representation of women in the current parliament is only 5.3%. President Ranil Wickremesinghe made these observations by joining the Committee Stage Debate on the budget proposal for the financial year 2023 in parliament today (01).

He further said :
“I expect to speak especially on the Ministry under me. We thank the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus for commencing a 16-day campaign against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

It was in 1931 that Sri Lankans got the universal franchise. However, the State Council did not have any female representation. The group of females including former President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s grandmother requested the Donoughmore Commission to permit the females to contest at the election as well.   At the election, not a single female won a seat. Eight months later after the demise of my great grandfather J H Meedeniya, Mrs Mollamure was appointed. On the other hand, Mrs Florence Senanayake was appointed from the opposition side. Hence, the female representation in 1931 was 2 per cent and after 91 years after the universal franchise was achieved, we have increased the female representation up to 5.3 per cent which is not satisfactory.

However, the UK parliament did not have 2 per cent female representation in 1931but Canada, Lok Sabha, Australia etc have increased it by now. We all are responsible for not doing so. In 2015 we proposed to increase the female representation at the Provincial Councils but could do it due to the amendment. However, the proportion of females in our society is 52 per cent. That’s why I asked the Women Parliamentarians Caucus to attend to that matter. We are drafting two acts related to Gender Equality and Women Empowerment. It is also proposed to establish an independent commission under the name of the National Women’s Commission to give leadership and make recommendations to the Parliament to intervene in matters relating to gender equality and women empowerment. The government supports it and I hope the Opposition side too would support it. We also have planned to appoint a female Ombudsman.

We have much to talk about on this matter. When we look at the estate sector, and garment factories, most of the employees are females but there is not a single woman director in them. Not only the Private sector but the government sector too has done the same mistake, as the scenario in the Corporations is the same. We can address it by way of law. However, where the education sector, health and administrative sector are concerned, female representation is higher. But in the private sector, we don’t find this development and it should be improved. But when we look at the numbers receiving education, more than 50 per cent are female which is not reflected at the higher level of employment.
In addition, the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus has been assigned to attend to Child affairs as well. The number of orphan children being looked after by the government is very low. The Caucus has to look into the protection of those children as well. We have to attend to the matter of elders and disabled persons. The amount that we can allocate for them has dropped as we settle loans, paid salaries or maintained loss-making institutions. But the curtain and what is in front of the curtain are nice. But nobody is looking behind a different curtain.  Earlier this ministry was not considered to be important under any government but now we are considering granting other ministries to female members. In India Finance Ministry, and Defence Ministry were held by females. Liz Truss was also the Foreign Minister. So we should attend to these matters and hence I instructed the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus to propose to formulate the required laws. We have a responsibility to increase women’s representation not only in parliament and politics but in all other areas as well.

I also instructed the Minister to address the issues related to Samurdhi. The issue there is some needy people are not receiving Samurdhi benefits while some who are not needy are getting them. We have to remove those who are not eligible. Some decisions may not be popular but the Parliament should be strong to get the correct decision. Though I don’t talk much about education as the minister will address it. Do we need the same schools we had when free education was introduced in 1946 or the same schools we had in 1980? I think we need schools that look ahead to 25 years beyond 2023.

The entire system that we are used to will change. MP Eran Wickramaratne will tell you all that we may not have brick-and-mortar universities at the end of the day. It could be something else. However, why can’t we be the regional hub for that?

 Sri Lanka can be a regional hub for education. Let us make up our minds. You are allowing billions of dollars to go out, at least three billion. So not only can we retain that 3 billion, but if we do it right, we will be able to attract another 10 billion. We must do that.
Can we be saying these are students and taking in those who are 40-50 years and expect to rectify this system? That’s all I am saying. Some may attack me for it, but I don’t mind. That is a fact. I said it earlier as well, earlier, we entered universities and passed out by the age of 21 or 22. Yet today, how many pass out by that age?

I think many can pass out by the age of 21-22. We were law students at the time and we all passed out by that age. Yet, can this be done today? So are we going to face this issue or not? That is the question and that is why I ask if we are all going to face this issue and stop it.Young men and women must pass out and leave university by the age 21-22. Then they can have jobs. Now we have to tailor the courses to suit the job market. In the future, we may experience a shortage of job opportunities in the job market, especially in the arts and social science fields. Hence, I would like the national council and the other committees of parliament to focus their attention on this issue. This issue could only be resolved if the matter is presented to these committees. The only issue that remains is whether the government is going to do it alone or whether the Opposition will join with the government and support its program or whether they will get onto the streets and start protesting. So we have to decide which course of action we are going to take. Developing the education sector is a step taken  for the betterment of the future generations.”


SL President advocates bold climate action at COP28




In a compelling address at the 28th session of the Conference of Parties (CoP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Dubai, UAE today (01), President Ranil Wickremesinghe acknowledged the historical significance of the UN Conference on Human Environment, emphasizing its goal to defend and improve the environment for present and future generations. 

He referenced the alarming findings of the UNEP Report of 2023, titled “Broken Promises,” which warns of a 3-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures by the end of the century.

Highlighting the challenges faced by developing countries, President Wickremesinghe stressed the disproportionate vulnerability and impact due to lower adaptive capacities in Finance, Technology, and Climate investments. He cited the Independent High-Level Expert Group Report on Climate Finance, which underscored the need for at least a US$ Trillion per annum to combat climate change.

The President commended the Government of the United Arab Emirates for hosting the crucial event and expressed gratitude for their warm hospitality.

Expressing concern about the lack of concrete measures in the Transitional Committee’s report on funding arrangements, the President called for a more transparent approach, particularly addressing issues of global debt relief. He questioned the wisdom of avoiding contentious issues, emphasizing the urgency of the climate crisis.

President Wickremesinghe advocated for climate justice accessible to all nations and proposed a resolution for a Climate Justice Forum. This forum, agreed upon at the 5th Forum of the Ministers of Environmental Authorities of Asia Pacific, aims to provide a platform for constructive and proactive engagements, with the proposal scheduled for the UN Environment Assembly on 6th February 2024.

Underlining the critical nature of the current period, the President urged immediate action to find effective solutions, thinking outside the box and investing in the Tropical Belt to tackle the Triple Planetary Crisis. The Tropical Belt, covering 134 countries and 44% of the Earth’s surface, holds rich biodiversity and potential for renewable energy. President Wickremesinghe announced plans for a panel to report on the Tropical Belt Initiative, emphasizing its global impact.

As the current Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), President Wickremesinghe linked the health of the Indian Ocean to climate change. He stressed the need for a sustainable Blue Economy to counter the adverse effects of rising sea levels, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and extreme weather patterns.

President Wickremesinghe also revealed plans to establish the International Climate Change University (ICCU) for capacity building and advancing research, operationalizing it next year. The ICCU aims to contribute significantly to global efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In conclusion, President Wickremesinghe’s address at COP28 outlined a comprehensive approach, blending regional initiatives like the Tropical Belt and the Indian Ocean with global measures, reflecting Sri Lanka’s commitment to climate action and leadership on the international stage.

The speech made by the President at the World Leaders Summit of the COP28 is follows;

“Chairperson, Excellencies, Esteemed Delegates, At the outset let me congratulate his highness and the Government of the United Arab Emirates for hosting COP28 and extend to you my gratitude for your warm hospitality. 

The UNEP Report of 2023 “Broken Promises” warned that we are facing a 3 degree Celcius increase in global temperatures by the end of the century. It is we; the developing countries are both disproportionately vulnerable and disproportionately impacted due to their lower adaptive capacity when it comes to investments in Finance, Technology and Climate. 

The Independent High-Level Expert Group Report on Climate Finance highlighted that at least a Trillion USD per annum is required to combat climate change. The Transitional Committee on the Operationalization of Funding Arrangements in its Report of 4th November 2023 only calls for voluntary contributions to the “Loss and Damage fund”. The Report makes no mention of the funds needed or who the contributors are. It is silent on the issue of global debt relief. These are interconnected’

Nevertheless, four days later, the Technical Dialogue of the First Global Stocktake highlighted the requirements of a minimum of US$ trillion per annum. To arrive at a consensus not to take up a contentious issue is not a solution. Who are we fooling?

Climate justice must be available to all the people and all the countries. In this background, Sri Lanka will propose a resolution for a Climate Justice Forum which was agreed upon at the 5th Forum of the Ministers of Environmental Authorities of Asia Pacific to be moved at the UN Environment Assembly of 6th February 2024.

The Climate Justice Forum will provide us a platform for constructive and proactive engagements. The Secretary General of the UN highlighted, “The era of global boiling has arrived”. The enemy is at the gates. We are still procrastinating. We are still forming our battalions to take the fight to the enemy. Therefore, this fortnight is critical.

It will determine whether we are capable of providing a leadership. Let us prove we can do so by action and delivery.

Sri Lanka is committed to the 1.5 degree Celcius limit. We are facing a drastic situation to await the disaster. We must think outside of the box. We must Invest in the Tropical Belt to tackle the Triple Planetary Crisis. 

The Tropical Belt constitutes 134 countries covering 44% of earth’s surface, and will by 2030s be home to roughly 50% of world’s population. Most of the world’s remaining primary forests are tropical, along with its coral reef systems. The rich biodiversity of the Tropical Belt enhances biological carbon sequestration and can shield the world from instabilities in weather.

Furthermore, the energy generation potential from solar, wind and biomass are significantly higher in the tropics than that of other areas on the earth. Yet, anthropogenic activities in the Tropical Belt can easily lead to an imbalance in the equilibrium of this region.

So much so that some scientists predict that the Tropical Rain Belt could shift away from the Equator by the 22nd Century. Large scale investments in Renewable Energy, Pollution Control and Nature-based Solutions will lead to significant transformative changes in the entire world by enhancing carbon sequestration. 

Therefore, Sri Lanka and other concerned countries will convene a panel to report on the Tropical Belt Initiative. A multi sector plan distributed not only among the whole tropical region but the whole world. As the current Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Sri Lanka is focusing on the interdependence between the Indian Ocean and climate change. 

A healthy ocean generates oxygen and absorbs the carbon and heat produced from global warming. Mangroves and sea grasses sink more carbon than land forests.  However, the rapid climate change is altering the marine environment with rising sea levels and temperatures, Ocean acidification, coral bleaching, habitat destruction and extreme weather patterns. These phenomenon have a direct impact on human lives by disrupting ocean biodiversity, the Ocean dependent food patterns, and coastal livelihoods. Member states and partners of IORA will work towards ensuring a sustainable, Indian Ocean for future generations. 

The Tropical Belt initiative and the Indian Ocean IORA program combined will form the largest global sink for carbon sequestration.  Addressing the climate change need, up to date scientific knowledge, and the effective use of these findings 

Therefore, at COP27, I proposed to establish an International Climate Change University (ICCU) for capacity building and advancing research, necessary to contribute to the crucial efforts to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We will be operationalizing the International Climate Change University (ICCU) next year. 

Ministers Mr. Ali Sabry, Mr. Keheliya Rambukwella, Mr. Kanchana Wijesekera, and Member of Parliament Mr. Madhura Withana represented the government, while Members of Parliament Mr. Champika Ranawaka and Mr. Ajith Mannapperuma represented the Opposition. Additionally, Senior Adviser to the President on Climate Change Mr. Ruwan Wijewardena, Secretary of the Ministry of Environment Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Director of International Affairs Mr. Dinouk Colomboge, Adviser to the Ministry of Finance Mr. Deshal De Mel, and President’s Private Secretary Ms. Sandra Perera were also present on this occasion.

(President’s media Division)

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Financial scheme for underprivileged students at Jaffna Uni.




The Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka – Mr. Gopal Baglay today (Dec. 01) rolled out a new financial scheme for the underprivileged students at the University of Jaffna.

The scheme was rolled out in the presence of the university’s Vice Chancellor Professor S. Srisatkunarajah, Deans of Faculties and beneficiary students and Rs. 03 million was ceremoniously handed over for the cause.

He also handed over offer letters to visit India under the Knowledge India Visitors Program organized by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to two Professors of the University.

The Indian High Commissioner as well as several officials are currently on a visit to Jaffna.

(Pics : X feed of Indian HC)

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Construction Field Skills Test opens new work opportunities in Japan




A new skills test in the field of construction has been newly introduced today (Dec. 01) in Sri Lanka for working in Japan as specified skilled workers (SSW).

The announcement was made during a joint press briefing today, attended by the Japanese ambassador to Sri Lanka – Mr. Mizukoshi Hideaki, Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment – Manusha Nanayakkara and Chairman of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment – Mr. A. A. M. Hilme.

Together with the skills tests in Nursing Care, Food Service and Agriculture, which have already been in place since last year, skills tests in four fields will be available in Sri Lanka.

 In his remarks, Ambassador Mizukoshi expressed his sincere hope that as many talented Sri Lankans as possible will take this new opportunity to work in Japan, contributing not only to the development of Japan’s construction sector but also to Sri Lanka’s foreign currency acquisition. He welcomed the rapid expansion of enthusiasm for learning Japanese, triggered by the beginning of the test for SSW in Sri Lanka last year and explained measures to support Japanese language education in Sri Lanka. He also reiterated the Government of Japan’s strong commitment to provide continuous support for the people of Sri Lanka and to further deepen our long-standing friendship with Sri Lanka. 

More information on the registration can be accessed at , the website of Prometric, which conducts the tests for SSW. 

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