In response to President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s directives, significant measures have been taken to address gender-based violence. Mrs. Geeta Kumarasinghe, the State Minister for Women, Children Affairs, and Social Empowerment, announced the government’s commitment to these initiatives during a press conference at the Presidential Media Centre (PMC), today (10) focusing on the theme ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country’.
Minister Geeta Kumarasinghe stressed that the government has undertaken preparations to introduce three pivotal bills aimed at preventing gender-based violence. These legislative measures, including the Gender Equality Act, the National Commission for Women Act, and the Women’s Empowerment Act, are vital steps in promoting gender equality and safety.
The government is also placing special emphasis on the social security of women. As part of this commitment, plans are underway to establish women’s care centres across ten districts, providing a secure environment for women in need, while a 24/7 emergency hotline, 1938, has been introduced, allowing women to seek assistance and report incidents confidentially.
To ensure the safety of children left without parental care and to protect their identities, the government has implemented the “Window” program. Recognizing the importance of women’s safety, the ministry is considering reducing taxes on sanitary napkins.
She also said a comprehensive program to prevent gender-based violence is in the pipeline. This initiative, implemented in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), spans the next five years (2024 – 2028). It includes self-employment schemes to empower young women, widows, women from incarcerated families, women in the estate sector, and low-income urban women entrepreneurs. The government is actively working on the establishment of women’s care centres in ten districts to provide support and assistance to women in need.
Moreover, the Ministry of Women, Child Affairs, and Social Empowerment has undertaken numerous initiatives for children’s welfare, including a nutritional allowance program, providing Rs. 45,000 over ten months for pregnant and lactating mothers, continues to operate. This program offers benefits for six months during pregnancy and four months during lactation.
In addition, a program has been implemented to provide breakfast to pre-school children in the year 2023, and the target number of children is 155,000. Pre-school teachers will receive a monthly stipend of Rs. 2,500 under the “Guru Abhimani” program.
Monthly district-level meetings are being conducted to address the concerns of children and women, ensuring that these initiatives are successful.
Furthermore High-nutrition biscuits are being distributed to pre-school children in districts, including Monaragala, Galle, Mullaitivu, Anuradhapura, Nuwara Eliya, and Ampara, to combat nutritional deficiencies.
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