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C. Bandara: Address to World Summit 2017

Address to World Summit 2017, Seoul, Korea, February 1 to 5, 2017


It is an honor and a pleasure for me to address this February gathering on “Critical Challenges of Our Time: Principles and Practices for Peace and Human Development.”

A new era of democracy dawned in Sri Lanka on January 8, 2016 (with the Sri Lanka Economic Forum 2016, an initiative hosted by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.) Peace, security and human development are very much in agreement with the vision of my government. We are adopting a new social, economic and political approach to rise up to the challenges of the 21st century. Sri Lanka is a country that has suffered from conflict. Conflict brings destruction to a society. Ours is a multi-ethnic society. Our social and human development approach is founded on pluralism, reconciliation and sustainable development. The development vision of my country is based on these themes.

Peace and human development go hand in hand. Human development takes place best in a peaceful environment. For example, in Sri Lanka, with the cessation of the Civil War (1983-2009), the economic growth rate soared to 8 percent in 2010, with tourism investment and infrastructure development quickly expanding. 

For the full and meaningful realization of human rights, the constitutional guarantee and economic, social and cultural rights are fundamental to the inherent dignity of the citizenry. These rights are enshrined in the Fundamental Rights section in our Constitution. Following a path of social democracy, Sri Lanka has ranked highly in the Human Development Index, even during the conflict.

Development should result in the empowerment of women and youth, and assure security for children. We have launched many programs to empower and secure the rights of women. Sri Lanka, which is multi-ethnic and multi-religious, is facing many challenges. As the Minister of Women and Child Affairs, I would like to highlight some of the challenges that we have addressed in empowering and ensuring rights of women, especially at the policy level.

As result of the conflict, the rate of female-headed households has increased to 24% of the female population. We have developed a National Plan of Action for female-headed households which has been approved by the Cabinet. The recently developed Action Plan for Protection and Promotion of Human Rights contains a separate chapter on Women’s Rights, which includes a section on women affected by the conflict. Reconciliation receives priority attention in my country. The Organization for National Unity and Reconciliation was established in 2015 to formulate and coordinate the implementation of policies and programs, including to ensure the rights of women. Gender focal points have been established in line ministries for promoting gender mainstreaming, gender budgeting and to address sexual harassment in the workplace.

Violence against women is widespread in Sri Lanka. For eradication of violence we developed a policy framework and national plan of action to address sexual and gender-based violence, which was approved by the Cabinet and included under the medium-term budgetary framework. A new referral system with a multi-sectoral approach was implemented for an improved response and prevention to sex and gender-based violence.

Increasing the political representation of women is a high priority of my government. Accordingly, the Local Government Election Act was amended in 2016 to include a 25 percent quota for women. A Cabinet paper has also been submitted to obtain 30 percent nominations for women at provincial council elections. As a means to increase the income levels of women in the informal sector, a policy has been drawn up to allocate a minimum of 25 percent of project investment for the economic development of rural women.

Addressing the challenges have been made easier with the leadership given by the prime minister, Hon. Ranil Wickramasingha, for making positive policy changes toward achieving gender equality.


Hon. Chandrani Bandara, Minister, Ministry of Women and Child Affairs, Sri Lanka

Hon. Chandrani Bandara was elected to Parliament in 2000 and has served continuously for 16 years. The Honorable Minister functions as the Chair of the Parliamentary Women’s Caucus. As the Minister of Women and Child Affairs she is instrumental in developing the National Action Plan on Children.  She has served since 2000 as the chairperson of the United National Party Anuradhapura District Committee.

To go to the 2017 World Summit Conference Schedule, click here.