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Japan welcomes SL adopting National Action Plan on Women, Peace & Security 

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Sri Lanka has adopted its first National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, for the period 2023 – 2027 with the support of the Government of Japan and UN Women. 

The Plan adds to the country’s legal and policy frameworks to protect and empower women in line with international commitments set out in the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1325 (2000). It also aims to strengthen coordination between stakeholders of the women, peace and security agenda, which is vital to sustainable peace and development in Sri Lanka. 
The plan was approved by Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers on 27 February 2023 and ceremoniously launched on 8th March 2023, on the occasion of International Women’s Day. 

The newly adopted National Action Plan was developed through a consultative process with input from provincial and district level public sector officials, civil society, community-based organizations, women leaders and others with direct and diverse experiences of conflict and crises. It was developed with technical support from UN Women as part of a joint partnership between the Government of Japan and the Government of Sri Lanka.  In 2018, the Government of Japan signed a partnership agreement with Sri Lanka under the G7 WPS framework.

Speaking on this, President Ranil Wickremesinghe stated that while the “status of women in the Asian region is not satisfactory, Sri Lankan women are ahead compared to other countries in the region, and efforts will be made to further expand their rights”. He emphasized that the ‘National Policy on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment’ and the ‘National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security’ will aid in achieving this goal, and the progress made so far was revealed on International Women’s Day. “Sri Lanka will host a meeting of leading women activists from SAARC countries this year to advocate for the inclusion of women’s rights within the organization’s framework. Sri Lanka is committed to working towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment in all areas and will take a leadership role in championing the rights of women in the Asian region”.

Highlighting the importance of the National Action Plan, State Minister of Women and Child Affairs – Geetha Samanmalee Kumarasinghe said: “With the adoption of this action plan, Sri Lanka is equipped for the first time with a policy framework to implement the women, peace and security agenda, which calls for greater participation and representation of women in governance and peacebuilding processes.”  

The National Action Plan further aims to provide targeted support for women who have been, and continue to be, directly harmed by conflict, violence and climate insecurity.

In addition, it aims to strengthen the security of marginalized women and girls, and the economic empowerment of women through access to equal opportunities and resources.  

Commenting on Sri Lanka’s progress, Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka – Mr. Mizukoshi Hideaki, stated: “The Government of Japan welcomes the timely adoption of this National Action Plan, which will help Sri Lanka’s commitments to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Through our longstanding partnership with UN Women and the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs, Japan is committed to supporting the furtherance of the women, peace and security agenda in Sri Lanka.”  

Prashani Dias, Head of Office a.i. at UN Women Sri Lanka, said: “To help the implementation of this important policy framework, UN Women, with support from the Government of Japan, has provided training on women, peace and security to public-sector officials. Through these programmes, workplans have been jointly developed at the district level to address issues that affect the well-being of women and girls during times of crisis.” 

Apart from these efforts, UN Women has strengthened women’s economic empowerment through entrepreneurship training, recognizing that women’s access to employment plays a key role in ensuring their security, and provided women leaders including youth, with skills to promote social cohesion in their communities. 

The adoption of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security marks significant progress on furthering gender-responsive conflict and crisis response, while also strengthening the role of women in peacebuilding and conflict-preventative leadership. 

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi killed in helicopter crash, official says

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister were killed in a helicopter crash in mountainous terrain and icy weather, an Iranian official said on Monday, after search teams located the wreckage in East Azerbaijan province.

“President Raisi, the foreign minister and all the passengers in the helicopter were killed in the crash,” the senior Iranian official told Reuters, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Iran’s Mehr news agency confirmed the deaths, reporting that “all passengers of the helicopter carrying the Iranian president and foreign minister were martyred”.

An Iranian official earlier told Reuters the helicopter carrying Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was completely burned in the crash on Sunday.

State TV reported that images from the site showed the aircraft slammed into a mountain peak, although there was no official word on the cause of the crash.

State news agency IRNA said Raisi was flying in a U.S.-made Bell 212 helicopter.

Raisi, 63, was elected president in 2021, and since taking office has ordered a tightening of morality laws, overseen a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests and pushed hard in nuclear talks with world powers.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate power with a final say on foreign policy and Iran’s nuclear programme, had earlier sought to reassure Iranians, saying there would be no disruption to state affairs.

Rescue teams fought blizzards and difficult terrain through the night to reach the wreckage in the early hours of Monday.

“With the discovery of the crash site, no signs of life have been detected among the helicopter’s passengers,” the head of Iran’s Red Crescent, Pirhossein Kolivand, told state TV.

Earlier, the national broadcaster had stopped all regular programming to show prayers being held for Raisi across the country.

In the early hours of Monday, it showed a rescue team, wearing bright jackets and head torches, huddled around a GPS device as they searched a pitch-black mountainside on foot in a blizzard.
Several countries expressed concern and offered assistance in any rescue.

The White House said U.S. President Joe Biden had been briefed on reports about the crash. China said it was deeply concerned. The European Union offered emergency satellite mapping technology.

The crash comes at a time of growing dissent within Iran over an array of political, social and economic crises. Iran’s clerical rulers face international pressure over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme and its deepening military ties with Russia during the war in Ukraine.

Since Iran’s ally Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, provoking Israel’s assault on Gaza, conflagrations involving Iran-aligned groups have erupted throughout the Middle East.

In Iran’s dual political system, split between the clerical establishment and the government, it is Raisi’s 85-year-old mentor Khamenei, supreme leader since 1989, who holds decision-making power on all major policies.
For years many have seen Raisi as a strong contender to succeed Khamenei, who has endorsed Raisi’s main policies.

Raisi’s victory in a closely managed election in 2021 brought all branches of power under the control of hardliners, after eight years when the presidency had been held by pragmatist Hassan Rouhani and a nuclear deal negotiated with powers including Washington.

However, Raisi’s standing may have been dented by widespread protests against clerical rule and a failure to turn around Iran’s economy, hamstrung by Western sanctions.

Raisi had been at the Azerbaijani border on Sunday to inaugurate the Qiz-Qalasi Dam, a joint project. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, who said he had bid a “friendly farewell” to Raisi earlier in the day, offered assistance in the rescue.

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(Reuters)

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Fire breaks out in workers’ living quarters near Colombo Port

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A fire has reportedly broken out in the living quarters of highway access road workers near the Colombo Port.

The Colombo Fire Brigade said it has dispatched four fire trucks to assist in extinguishing the flames.

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President Wickremesinghe meets Elon Musk to discuss starlink implementation in Sri Lanka

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe has met with billionaire and investor Elon Musk on the sidelines of the 10th World Water Forum High-Level Meeting being held in Indonesia.

During the meeting, Wickremesinghe and Musk discussed the implementation of ‘Starlink’ in Sri Lanka.

It was emphasized that Sri Lanka is committed to expediting the application process to connect the country to the global Starlink network, according to the President’s Media Division (PMD).

Minister Jeevan Thondaman, accompanying the President on his two-day visit to Indonesia, tweeted: “President and Elon discussed Sri Lanka’s recovery, economic potential, and new opportunities for investment. Great to have two visionary leaders come together for Sri Lanka.”

Elon Musk arrived in Indonesia’s resort island of Bali on Sunday to launch Starlink satellite internet service in the world’s largest archipelago nation.

The billionaire head of Tesla and SpaceX, and owner of social platform X, arrived by private jet on the idyllic “island of the gods,” renowned for its tropical beaches, terraced rice paddies, mystical temples, and colorful spiritual offerings.

Musk is slated to launch the service alongside Indonesian President Joko Widodo in a ceremony later Sunday at a public health clinic in Denpasar, the provincial capital of Bali. 

Musk will also sign an agreement to enhance connectivity in the country’s health and education sectors.

During his first in-person visit to Bali, Musk is also scheduled to participate in the 10th World Water Forum, which seeks to address global water and sanitation challenges.

–With agencies inputs

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