CBK Urges Women to Fight for Inclusion

July 18, 2014

On July 18, 2014, President Chandrika Kumaratunga was the chief speaker at the launch of the Advocacy Road Map "What the Women Say–ACTIONS-not Words Count" for the Implementation of Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Sri Lanka. The event, held in Colombo, was organized by The Association of Women Affected by War (AWAW) and FOKUS--Forum for Women and Development.

In her speech, the Former Executive President described the status of society in Sri Lanka by stating, "We have an exclusive society--it practices exclusion of minorities. First it excluded the Tamils, now the Muslims and Christians. This insidious trend of excluding others, other than ourselves, makes us reject everyone who is different. Now we are evolving new stories why we should exclude those who are not from the majority community. There is a conspiracy of silence--it is happening to others, so let us keep silent".

Chandrika linked this pattern of exclusion to the position of women in Sri Lankan society remarking, "The refusal to accept women, and to give them a fair share of power is due to this trend of exclusion. There is a need to bring in the other, to be a part of us, and not to reject the other. We have no peace, because at the top level, we refuse to bring in the other. But it is not difficult to bring in the other. In the North and East, people are crying out to be included. This is what women must fight for, to be included and to include all"

Despite being the first country to produce a female prime minister, having universal suffrage since 1993--long before many developed countries, and having high women's inclusion in education, Chandrika expressed concern for the exclusion on women from places where decision-making occurs.

As President, Chandrika worked to increase the representation of women in government by increasing the women's quota to 50% in the local government. This attempt, however, was derailed by the otherwise male dominated government. She remains committed, however, to increasing the status of women in society and encouraged women to aspire for decision-making positions concluding her speak by saying, "let us hope we women can do more for Sri Lanka than what men have done".

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