The Women and Media Collective (WMC) recently launched the Country Profiles on Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health Services during a national policy dialogue on Friday 4th December at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies. The event brought together nearly 70 participants from the government, civil society, UN agencies, media, medical and health sector personnel as well as female workers from the Katunayake Free Trade Zone.
A brief presentation on the development of the country profile on Sexual and Reproductive Rights (SRR), its key findings and recommendations were presented to the participants. This was followed by the launching of the profile which was handed over to the panel of speakers, Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs Vijayakala Maheswaran and Azra Abdul-Cader from the Asian Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), a partner organization.
The first panel discussion on SRR was moderated by Kumudini Samuel, Programme and Research Associate of WMC. It comprised of Dr. Nethanjali Mapitigama, Head of the Women’s Division, Family Health Bureau who spoke of the governments perspective on policy, programmes and grievance redress mechanisms for Sexual and Reproductive Rights. Dr. Thiloma Munasinghe, Consultant Community Physician presented the policy’s and laws on Sexual Reproductive Health and HIV/STI’s in Sri Lanka while Dr. Sepali Kottegoda, Executive Director of WMC talked about policies and programmes for the prevention of Gender Based Violence.
The Country Profile on Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) Services was launched after a brief presentation on some of the common myths related to SRH services in Sri Lanka. The panel discussion that followed was moderated by Dr. Sepali Kottegoda of WMC who highlighted the gaps and challenges in access and availability of services in the country. Madusha Dissanayake, Director HIV/AIDS & Advocacy of the Family Planning Association, Hans Bilimoria, Director of Grassrooted Trust and Sumika Perera, Coordinator, Women’s Resource Centre in Kurunegala talked about services for persons living with HIV/AIDS and STI’s, sexuality education and adolescent sexual and reproductive health services and the practical challenges in accessing sexual and reproductive health services respectively.
Each of the panel discussions was followed by lively question and answer sessions which both participants and panellists found to be very useful. The audience was able to clarify any concerns and express their frustrations related to the SRR and SRH context in Sri Lanka. Link to country profiles: Country profile on Universal Access to Reproductive Rights: Sri Lanka Country profile on Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Services: Sri Lanka