IWD 2016: Strengthening and Protecting the rights of women in Sri Lanka through the new constitution

The struggle for supporting and strengthening women’s human rights in the political, social and economical spheres is far from over. In Sri Lanka for instance various forms of discrimination and violence against women in private and public life continues to undermine the gains made in achieving relatively high social development indicators for women and girls. Women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are regulated while their ability to make informed choices about their own body, in terms of abortion remains criminalised and marital rape is not recognised as a crime. In politics women’s representation is still abysmally low; not even reaching half of the achievements of women’s representation in its neighbouring countries in South Asia.

The new constitution making process, which included public consultation for the very first time in the country’s history, is providing an opportunity for women to strongly advocate for their needs so that these are addressed and reflected within the legal framework of the country. Given that our existing constitution has many limitations, this process is a means of including provisions that will adequately recognise the rights of women. Over the past month, the Women and Media Collective facilitated discussions with a number of women’s organisations from almost 20 districts to formulate and make representations towards this new constitutional making process.

On International Women’s Day while we celebrate how far women have come in terms of achieving gender equality, we focus on how we can further strengthen and protect the rights of women in Sri Lanka through the new constitution.

In this video we have Sumika Perera from Women’s Resoruce Centre in Kurunegala (0:04 Sinhala), Kumudini Samuel from the Women and Media Collective in Colombo (05:31 English) and Prof. Sitralega Maunaguru from Suriya Women’s Development Centre, Batticaloa (11:26 Tamil) talking about the submissions made to the Public Representation Committee on constitutional reforms.