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Are Gender Issues on the Good Governance Reportcard?

20 February 2015 04:36 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Good governance is not just political parlance that is in fashion today; despite being a popular slogan and a phrase that propelled the new government’s thrust against corruption, impunity and lawlessness into power, the word retains their strong stance taken virtually in every area of our lives. Good governance after all should be reflected in our personal lives as well as professional and public lives.


Gender balance
Good governance calls for a balance of many things – chiefly among these relevant to women would be the gender balance. Are we going to be able to have an equal playing field when it comes to gender issues? An equal playing field would be one where women are encouraged to participate, engage in and contribute towards issues of relevance to women and the society at large.

To start with, is there capacity and capability to encourage women to take on a greater role in nation building and the political and administrative machinery? Can there be more to engaging with women in the political realm towards solving gender issues rather than seeing the female ministers and MPs on-board?
There are many gender-related issues that call for good governance. Domestic violence continues to be high on the agenda – media reports cite a rate of 60 percent in domestic violence in Sri Lanka in 2011. Some point out that it has increased in 2013/14.

Despite the data, the cases of domestic violence and abuse continue to make headlines. For every case that gets the media and law enforcement attention, plenty go without. It would be relevant to address these issues on the path to good governance, assuring thousands of victims of their right to take action against abuse in their own homes.

Good governance also needs t o urgently address the issue of sexual crimes against women. In a country ranked high in Googling for sex and one in which one can expect sexual molestations on a regular basis in public transport, what steps can and must be taken to address the issue urgently.

Just yesterday the newspapers reported of yet another Sri Lankan man groping a female passenger in an aircraft when the cabin lights were dimmed – the man in question had sexually molested a 12-yearold Singaporean girl who sat next to him. Certainly neither the first such incident nor the last, the new government has a responsibility to address the issue of sexual harassment efficiently.

It is an open secret that women are harassed via telephone calls and on social media sites. Most of us know by personal experience that nine out of 10 times if you dare to return a missed call, the male voice at the end of the line will call back and keep harassing until and unless a male voice answers.

Women entrepreneurship
We do have female manned police desks but can we go one step further and address issues that bring women to those desks in the first place?
Sexual harassment is a broad subject that covers many areas. Sexual harassment and abuse in the work place is a common complaint among women. They manifest sometimes in the form of sexual advances at other times they can be verbal abuse.
Yet, others are forced to engage in such acts with superiors or else they would be victimized. Is the long arm of the law long enough indeed to address those issues? In a nutshell, what more can be done to minimize those incidents and encourage and empower victims to speak out in a way that ensures justice for them?

Women in entrepreneurship is not a new subject but one that can sometimes be hackneyed in political parlance. Thousands of women, most of them heading single parent households in the north and the east, not to mention those in the south whose husbands are either on drugs or alcoholics, leaving the burden of running a household on the women, are entrepreneurs often not by choice but by necessity. They may not have access to global workshops and other empowering initiatives but they struggle to make ends meet, often surviving on a daily income.

They are courageous women who will take calculated risks to ensure their families are fed. They benefit extensively from microfinance projects and are often recognised as thrifty savers who are able to pay back. What measures can be adapted to empower these women to reach the next level of growth, enhancing their access to credit and business knowhow? How can they be encouraged to graduate into self-sufficient business owners?

Women play a major role in facilitating progress at both a micro and a macro level be it in the urban areas or the villages. Can these women be encouraged to be the agents of change , be it economically or politically, enabling them to play bigger and better roles in nation building. Can they be included in a greater agenda for better participation of women and greater engagement towards fostering the kind of development that doesn’t always favour the rich and the powerful but the small and the hopefuls?“There is no tool for development more effective than the empowering of women” – Kofi Annan
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