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Sunday, 11 March 2012

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Empowering womanhood :

Rural areas - the midpoint of prosperity

Southern Province Governor Kumari Balasuriya is hailed as the first and only female Provincial Governor of Sri Lanka. She has also renewed her record by being reappointed for the second consecutive term of office as Governor.

While marking the 101st International Women’s Day, the Sunday Observer had the opportunity to interview her.



Kumari Balasuriya

The following are the excerpts of the interview:

SO: Madam Governor, you have brought much honour and pride to the entire womanhood of Sri Lanka by becoming the first and only Woman Governor of a province in Sri Lanka and reappointed for a second term as Governor.

As a topmost woman administrator and leading woman activist, how do you perceive the growth of International Women’s day celebration?

Governor: Well, the International Women’s Day initially started as a socialist political event.

It was originally called the International Working Women’s Day.

However with the passage of time, it is, at present, celebrated in different parts of the world as a festival of respect, appreciation and love towards women with special focus on women’s economic, political and social achievements.

Although the event emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe, in addition to the political objectives, nowadays, the “Day” is fostered and blended with cultural social and above all rich feminist concepts.

In view of the International Year of Women, on March 8, 1975 the United Nations held the first official felicitation of the International Women’s day.

Solicitation

They also made an earnest solicitation from the member States to mark the “Day” annually in accordance with their own cultural, social, economic and political traditions and practices inherent to their countries.

Furthermore, in 1977 the General Assembly of UN adopted a resolution declaring the IWD as the International day of United Nations for Rights of Women and International Peace.

Thus at present IWD has become a global annual celebration for the liberation of global womanhood.

SO: Last year the world celebrated the centenary of the IWD on a grand scale.

How was this universal event being able to contribute towards lifting the status of global womanhood?

Governor: Since the inception IWD has been commemorated under different themes each year.

It is true that still the woman suffers prejudices, injustices, destitution and discrimination, despite the fact that the world community has been holding the global women’s day for over 100 years.

Celebrations

Nevertheless these celebrations have been able to contribute towards the progress of the womanhood and focus the world’s attention on various problems and issues related to womanhood.

This year IWD is felicitated under the theme of “Empowering Rural Womanhood and End Hunger and Poverty”.

We should have a realistic and authentic agenda with proper approach in celebrating this universal celebration of the woman in order to achieve the anticipated goals of the event.

SO: What is the specific impact of this year’s theme of IWD has on Sri Lanka, as you stated?

Governor: Currently the nature of war has changed. Modern conflicts that we witness today are quite different from those we experienced in the past.

90 per cent of the people who die in modern conflicts are not soldiers but civilians and many of those casualties are women and children. Rape has become a weapon of war.

Villages have become the battle ground, dividing communities along racial, religious or ethnic lines.During the past 30 years, until 2009, our country also underwent similar hardships and grievances owing to the brutal terrorist war at which our women were affected irrespective of regional or provincial divisions. All such misery and grievances have been ended as a result of glorious victory over LTTE terrorism by our heroic forces under the profound political leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The highest dividends of the war victory were achieved by the Sri Lankan womanhood.

As such on this occasion of the 101st International women’s Day all women in Sri Lanka salute the President for liberating them from the vicious grip of terrorism.

SO: But many alleged that even after years of holding this global commemoration, sufferings, injustices, prejudices and discriminations towards the woman still persist worldwide.

What is your comment on these accusations?

Governor: Yes, there is truth in such allegations. We have celebrated this “Day” on a grand scale yearly.

We all are obliged and responsible to look back along the past track of this annual event and evaluate the factual contribution and commitment of it towards fortifying the womanhood.

It is indeed regrettable to note that even in countries recognised as developed, lack of female freedom, deprivation of women’s rights and privileges and impediments on woman development can be still witnessed.

I believe that it is much crucial and essential to have a genuine appraisal of the contribution of these annual celebrations towards raising the womanhood.

SO: For the past few decades, Sri Lanka also has celebrated this international event both under State and non-governmental sponsorship with much grandeur.

As a prominent female administrator and a leading women activist, are you contended with the outcome or returns of such festivals in upholding the Sri Lankan womanhood especially with regard to the rural woman?

Governor: A characteristic of International Women’s Day celebrations in Sri Lanka is that it is sadly limited only to a small number of organisation of well heeled social layer of the country.

The issues and grievances of the majority of women who struggle under much difficult conditions for their livelihood cannot be redressed by holding mere conferences, delivering lectures and holding festivals in view of the IWD.

Instead, practical and meaningful plans with farsighted vision should be formulated and implemented aimed at empowering of rural womanhood.

Following the restoration of peace, unity and harmony throughout the country, a much conducive and stable social, economic and political situation has been created in Sri Lanka for sustainable development for rural womanhood of Sri Lanka.

Making the utmost use of the peaceful situation, the government, under Mahinda Chintana – has launched a massive development drive for the growth of rural economy with prominence to the empowerment of rural womanhood.

In accordance with the concept of “Power of the village to the country” the government has implemented special programs to make every rural village a midpoint of prosperity.

SO: What is your message for the Sri Lankans on this occasion of International women’s day 2012?

Governor: Let us all resolve in unity with firm determination to work with improved enthusiasm and devotion towards the advancement of rural womanhood with reinforced vision and practical methodology on the occasion of 101st IWD in place of colourful festivities which have no positive impact on the Sri Lanka woman.

 

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