President Ranil Wickremesinghe revealed plans to introduce two significant bills aimed at advancing gender equality and empowering women, with both slated for presentation to Parliament in May.

Addressing the National Celebration of International Women’s Day at the Water’s Edge, Battaramulla today (08), the President outlined the key provisions of these legislative initiatives.

Under the proposed Women’s Empowerment Act, the establishment of a separate commission is envisaged. This commission’s primary objective will be to facilitate the advancement and empowerment of women by implementing mechanisms to protect their rights, all by constitutional provisions.

President Wickremesinghe noted that the draft of this bill was published in the Gazette yesterday (07), marking a significant step towards its realization.

The President announced that a drafted bill focusing on gender equality, aimed at securing women’s rights, will be published in the Gazette in the upcoming week. This bill seeks to establish principles of gender equality across various sectors, including social, political, economic, cultural and technical policies, while also providing the necessary infrastructure to support these principles.

He emphasized that these arrangements will be made through the proposed Act.

Furthermore, the President pledged to establish a council on gender and social equality, vested with ministerial powers, to address issues related to gender and social equality effectively. Additionally, plans are underway to establish a centre at the ministerial level dedicated to resolving women’s issues.

To ensure comprehensive consultation and collaboration, President Wickremesinghe announced the assignment of the Women’s MP caucus of Parliament to engage with various groups regarding these bills and to propose any necessary amendments.

Highlighting the significance of these bills, President Wickremesinghe noted that they mark a historic milestone for the South Asian region. He also expressed his intent to implement gender budgeting in the future, further advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment initiatives.

The President expressed the government’s commitment to implementing gender-based budgeting in the future and establishing women and children affairs units in every police station, with corresponding officer training.

President Wickremesinghe stressed that women’s rights should not be limited to rhetoric but should be supported by concrete laws and ordinances. He called for nationwide awareness on women’s issues, stating that legislative efforts alone are insufficient without societal engagement.

The theme of the 2024 International Women’s Day celebration was “Empowered Women- Prosperous Nation”, with participation from women’s organizations across the island.

Minister of State for Women and Children’s Affairs Geetha Kumarasinghe presented guidelines for temporary women’s care centres and the constitution of women’s work organizations and women’s power boards to the President.


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