In 1975, the United Nations declared March 8 as International Women’s Day and this year is the 39th Anniversary of this very special day for women the world over. It is undoubtedly the ideal time for each and every woman to reflect on how far they have come both individually and collectively and celebrate past gains while planning for the future.
During the past 39 years many battles were fought by both women and men for women. Their commitment and dedication to change the status quo have in turn inspired and empowered millions of women and girls worldwide. Empowerment is the key to enjoying a fulfilling life as a woman where violence, discrimination and inequalities have no place.
"Many of the issues faced by women in our country today, such as sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence, teenage pregnancies and unsafe abortions are directly linked to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)"
As a country Sri Lanka is a signatory to many conventions and covenants such as the Children’s Rights Charter, the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Violence Against Women (CEDAW), the Millennium Development Goals, Programme of Action for International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Conference speak loudly and clearly of suitable mechanisms for building equality between men and women.
Many of the issues faced by women in our country today, such as sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence, teenage pregnancies and unsafe abortions are directly linked to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). As the pioneer in Sexual and Reproductive Health in the country, The Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka (FPA Sri Lanka) plays a pivotal role in ensuring good health and well-being of women. The scope of our work is on a broader scale than simply providing health services, we believe in empowering women by providing them with access to information, services and opportunities to experience an enriched life while advocating to minimise the multitude of socio-cultural, physical and psychological challenges faced by women in our country. Such access to information and services is necessary to achieve sustainable development and gender equality.
As the Millennium Development Goals come to a close by 2015, governments, civil society actors and international bodies are working towards creating a new development framework with a view to long term sustainability. We at the Family Planning Association too have pledged for a ten-point plan of action called “The Vision 2020”. This campaign attempts to put sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) at the heart of the development agenda of the country . Throughout the Vision 2020 goals key focus had been universal access to SRHR, which include provision of sexual education to children so that they could enjoy a happy, safe and secure life and for all women and girls to be free from violence and discrimination and for every individual to have access to quality SRH services they need to reduce morbidity and mortality.
"As the Millennium Development Goals come to a close by 2015, governments, civil society actors and international bodies are working towards creating a new development framework with a view to long term sustainability."
As an organisation that believes in justice, choice and well-being as cornerstones to gender equality and empowerment of all, we have pledged our support to this vision of change, which we believe if achieved universally, will be half the battle won and bring us that much closer to a fairer world.
On this International Women’s Day let’s spend some time to look back and be inspired by the progress made, the change created through the acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.