18 May, 2024

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Gender Equality, Empowerment Of Women & The JVP

By Lionel Bopage

Dr. Lionel Bopage

Gender equality as a human right

My previous article about the International Women’s Day emphasised the importance of working towards gender equality, which is essential for the world in its journey towards a reconciled and a fairer place. The UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has only six more years to run. This means that in another half a decade every person should have “equal access to education, healthcare, decent work, a life free from discrimination and abuse, and representation in political and economic decision-making”. The 2030 Agenda has called us to strengthen our efforts further towards achieving gender equality. This article discusses how Sri Lanka fares in this regard.

Women in Sri Lanka like in many countries continue to suffer from abuse, discrimination and violence, despite the progress they have made. There exists significant structural barriers and societal and cultural norms that enable the continuation of gender stereotypes, which forces women to live under the yoke of unequal treatment. Unless as a society, we confront and eliminate the prevailing gender inequalities and discriminatory attitudes and practices that hold women back, we cannot look forward to any prospects of progress as set out in the UN’s 2030 Agenda.

Compared with other South Asian countries and many developing countries, Sri Lanka has a relatively high level of gender equality in terms of education and access to health services, as they enjoy free and universal schooling and healthcare. Despite these significant achievements, gender inequalities continue in the social and economic sphere. Nevertheless, the current political and economic agenda driven by structural arrangements may easily affect this status to change in the near future.

Gender discrimination is deeply embedded in social institutions. Yet, this discrimination, in its many forms, often remain invisible. Key drivers behind the perpetuating gender gaps and hindering moving towards a rights-based approach  are mainly socio-economic and cultural norms and practices. Hence, collecting comprehensive and comparative data for quantifying the level of gender discrimination that currently exists, is a necessary and vital task.

Status of women in Sri Lanka

Crimes against women such as domestic and sexual violence are endemic in many societies. According to research studies, 35 percent of women in Sri Lanka are reported to have experienced intimate partner violence during their lifetime and 40 percent subjected to violence. Despite legislation such as the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act providing certain protections in this regard, the law is not implemented for the purpose of achieving its expressed intent. Additionally, the Act does not include economic violence within its defined scope of domestic violence. Furthermore, the Act has mandated family counselling before pursuing legal means such as filing cases in court.

This may push women towards withdrawing their complaints due to pressure and intimidation exerted on them by individuals and society. For example, socially, there is an expectation that women should keep their problems at home and in family as the marriage and family are sacrosanct. As a result, many women do not seek institutional assistance and legal protection. Going against such norms will lead to social stigmatisation. On the other hand, judicial processes are so lengthy, require huge amounts of resources and are time consuming; deterring many women from taking the judicial path.

72 percent of the 8.5 millioneconomically active population in Sri Lanka are males while only 35 percent are females. However, women comprise 52 percent the population, yet the female representation in parliament is only 5.3percent. Women continue to be more vulnerable to poverty and exclusion in society. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has helped to address this complex issue and helps governments as well as society to understanding its scope, as well as assisting governments who are willing and committed to addressing this issue by developing evidence-based policy solutions.

OECD and SIGI

In assessing gender equality, OECD uses Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) for measuring the level of gender discrimination. This Index is used to assess whether legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor gender equality and women’s empowerment, which the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5.1.1 has codified. In this Index, reference to social institutions includes the complex network of formal and informal laws, and social norms and practices.

According to SIGI 2023, globally, women held only 25 percent of management positions. It is no wonder that systemic discrimination has widened gender gaps in the labour market. This situation has led to women’s underrepresentation in leadership and management positions and overrepresentation in low-wage sectors, in the informal economy or in part-time work. The Index measures discriminatory practices in four areas:

• discrimination in the family

• restricted physical integrity

• access to productive and financial resources, and

• restricted civil liberties.

Despite the difficulties in comparison and Australia not being the perfect example in terms of gender equality, when we consider gender inequality measures between Australia and Sri Lanka, the differences become very clear.

According to OECD figures the measure, Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) for 2023 in Australia is 15.4 compared with the value 59.2 in Sri Lanka. A value zero (0) in this regard indicates no discrimination environment, while a value of 100 an environment of absolute and outright discrimination against women. The dimension ‘Discrimination in the family’ for Australia is 7.9 while it is 62.5 for Sri Lanka. The dimension ‘Restricted physical integrity’ is 13.1 for Australia whereas it is 41.5 for Sri Lanka. The dimension ‘Restricted access to productive and financial resources’ is 17.4 for Australia, while it is 63.2 for Sri Lanka. ‘Restricted civil liberties’ dimension is 22.5 and 44.2 respectively for Australia and Sri Lanka.

Discriminatory social institutions restrict “women’s and girls’ access to rights, justice, empowerment opportunities and resources, undermining their agency and authority” (OECD, 2024). The latest figures indicate 56 percent of the global population believes that when a mother undertakes paid work, children will suffer. Women are often expected to undertake most of the unpaid care and domestic work, thus restricting their time available for education, training and paid employment.

SIGI has also helped identify gender stereotypes in education leading to a gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. This is associated with the differences observable from the subjects young people chose to study at school or pursue as a career. For example, in the OECD, despite young women performing slightly better in science than their male peers, young women are found to be less likely than young men to study and graduate in STEM related fields. A similar observation has been made regarding the digital divide between young women and young men with young men more likely to gain digital skills required to engage in today’s economy moving towards driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0).

Moving away from gender discrimination

According to the UN based data, women comprise almost half the world’s agricultural workforce and nearly half of the world’s small-scale livestock managers in low-income countries. Working-class women and enslaved women across the world have always been engaged in attending to heavy manual labour.

The early human societies needed people for producing a surplus that benefitted the elites of those societies, and for defending the state, if needed, even at the cost of sacrificing their lives during times of war. “Maintaining population levels put an inevitable pressure on families. Over time, young women were expected to focus on having more and more babies, especially sons who would grow up to fight.” (BBC 2023).

With women being pushed more to be engaged in domestic affairs to focus on motherhood and domestic labour, they gradually disappeared from the public life of work and leadership. In addition, patrilocal marriage practices that sidelined women in their own homes, made them more exposed to be exploited and subjected to abuse. Daughters of these families were expected to leave their parental/childhood homes to live with the families of their husbands. Thus, marriage became converted into a rigid legal institution over time, which treated women as the private property of their husbands.

Armed conflicts and war widows

In Sri Lanka, the issue of war widows continues to be a significant problem. Armed conflicts generated extreme trauma on war widows leading them to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition to psychological hardships, they continue to suffer from problematic legal, economic and social issues. These issues range from social exclusion, stigmatisation, sexual and financial exploitation, harassment, intimidation, security threats to demographic changes, post-war insecurities, financial hardships, restrictions by culture and tradition, and economic and land-rights inequalities. These issues have severely affected their lives within and outside the family.

There have been many research studies conducted on war widows in the country. Despite these studies highlighting their plight, it has not raised awareness about the real difficulties war widows are faced with. Many war widows, despite receiving material and financial assistance of the government and many non-government organisations, are still confronted with many serious issues. This is especially acute for war widows in the north and east, whose plight is often overlooked.

The way war widows are coping particularly, those in the north and east need to be appreciated, as their circumstances are much drearier and more vulnerable. They display an astonishing strength, courage, innovation, and agency in finding individual and collective coping strategies, while making use of available opportunities for ensuring their economic, social and psychological survival. Associations and cooperatives of widows have formed networks for developing such economic opportunities and providing psychosocial support, though their effectiveness are yet to be assessed.

Many such initiatives are self-organised while other initiatives receive local or international governmental and non-governmental support. Some programs have played an important role and contributed to empowering young widows. However, it is reported that older widows due to their social traditions and cultural norms have found it more difficult to take charge of such opportunities. Some war widows and women in rural areas in the south have gone overseas for work. Some of them have found their family life ruined, while some are doing better.

Women in Sri Lanka are disproportionally feeling the brunt of the poly crises the country is currently faced with such as the rising cost of living and food insecurity. However, it appears that with women equipped with livelihood skills will enable them to confront and surmount such challenges. Women have applied their own Indigenous knowledge and innovation to enhance the investments they have made and some have made remarkable achievements. Particularly, during difficult times in rural areas, women can truly become agents of change for their families and communities, and thus for the country as a whole.

*To be continued

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Latest comments

  • 13
    3

    Thank you Lionel Bopage.
    In my book Heritage Histories I show how we exaggerate our accomplishments to show what a great people we are — age of our schools, the dubious accomplishments of our national heroes, our caste, etc..
    Women’s rights is another area where we exaggerate our accomplishments or selectively list them (first woman prime minister, etc.) to show that we treat women well. The reality is that our women have little power and need to work outside the home as executives to have some say over matters concerning men. I am aware of how women are sexually abused in high class homes and we cannot talk about it to uphold family honour. A daughter had the guts to report the rape of a colleague in her office by a member of the mangement. Nothing came of it except that she was branded as a trouble-maker and left for the US where she is doing well.
    To be frank many think I treat my wife equally but that is just not true because I control many things and she goes along, adding to the picture of how well-treated our women are, and what a great family ours is. My grown up daughters educate me on how I am bad to my wife even in basic matters like her having to supply me with many cups of tea as I work and then wash my empty cups for my next request. Although she is a professional and a professor, I work all the time on my professional writings while she can do that only late at night into the early hours of the morning after we have all been served.
    I have seen a lot worse about the status of our women while working at the Election Commission. Lionel Bopage has touched a little on how abysmal the representation of women in parliament is.
    Lionel Bopage has torn the mask off our pretending face. I look forward to Part II of his article.

    • 6
      6

      Jaffna Man,
      How could ‘caste’ be classified an achievement. Where does that fit in Lionel Bopage’s article.
      If you do not recognise that you are ruining the purpose behind Lionel’s article, I am deeply sorry for you.
      .

      • 3
        4

        Dr. Bopage – you’ve written: “72 percent of the 8.5 million economically active population in Sri Lanka are males while only 35 percent are females.” I’m sure you are mistaken about the numbers…
        .
        On the issue of gener equity, someone somewhere mentioned how we have assigned a value, therefore a price for those who are engaged in the production process and as a result they are being (formally) paid a wage, while neglecting those who are engaged in the reproductive process, that doesn’t get paid formally.
        .
        If nobody continues with the reproductive process not just the economy but also the society and the human species will come to an end. Yet we, as in our economies, do not seem to recognise this work that keeps a steady supply of labour without which its sustenance is not possible.
        .
        A society with true gender equity I believe would be greatly different from what we have today – from economics to social norms to laws – many things would be fundamentally different. Therefore without addressing some fundamental realities there won’t be true gender equity.

      • 1
        0

        Nathan,
        Please do not feel sorry for me but feel sorry for yourself that you cannot read and understand plain English
        I never said caste is an achievement. I said we exaggerate the accomplishments of our national heroes COMMA our caste.

        • 0
          1

          Jaffna Man,
          Here is what you wrote,
          “we exaggerate our accomplishments to show what a great people we are — age of our schools, the dubious accomplishments of our national heroes, our caste, etc..”.
          Your, ‘our caste’, falls under the accomplishments we exaggerate.
          Even an eel cannot be this slimy!!

    • 5
      9

      “Nothing came of it except that she was branded as a trouble-maker and left for the US where she is doing well.”
      US– the paradise of gender equality?
      “1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed, 2.8% attempted).”
      For more detailed data try
      https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence

    • 1
      9

      Jaffna Man:

      The author’s concern is with actual or imaginary–I lean to the latter–issues facing women that require intervention by the state in the form of new laws and policies. Your getting your wife to supply cups of tea as you work is not what this article is about. From what you have written she seems quite happy and reconciled to provide you with this service, and, in any case, there is nothing the state can do to get you to make your own tea. Any way, she decided to marry you and this sort of thing comes with the territory. If she had wanted to devote herself to her academic work without having to be any one’s “slave,” she could have opted not to marry.

      With regard to sexual abuse and harassment, there are already laws to cover that.

    • 8
      1

      soma

      Where are you?
      Lester is struggling to lie.
      Hope you do sympathise with him.

      Gota has ghost written whatever …
      Is he planning a coup or riots along with your favourite saffron thugs?

      Since you are an old riots specialist, do you think Gota needs a good riots, can he along with you and saffron thugs organise a fresh riots which hopefully could help re-elect him to the top office?

    • 6
      5

      Jaffna Man raises a good point. Caste is yet another hierarchy that imposes needless barriers on women.

  • 5
    4

    Dr. Bopage

    Your article ‘Gender Equality, Empowerment Of Women & The JVP’ has no reference to the JVP as the title suggests.

    As far as I am aware, there are more female doctors than males, as well as, lawyers & accountants, There are high flying females in business & in other, usually, male dominated occupations, like Engineering. The occupation is the choice of females but it is not only females, males, too, are deprived of opportunity. Maybe females are less in politics but do we need female representation in parliament proportionate to the population? Do we need to vote for female candidates just because of their gender & not capability? Certainly not the likes of Hirunika, appointed by MR, who behaves like a basket women, or the backward doctor appointed as a Governor by GR.
    Even village lasses today are more independent & have the same opportunities as their male counterparts but in both cases, it is poverty that holds them back. Domestic abuse is common even in developed countries & it’s not only war widows (aren’t they entitled to their husband’s pension?), single mothers, for whatever reason, are facing destitution but its up to the govt. to provide relief to such people.

    Political parties should address poverty & not politicise a non existent gender issue for the sake of votes.

    • 5
      7

      R-UK
      This country has for very long had better gender balance than the UK in the professions.
      Despite a majority of women in the said professions, what is female presence in the top jobs— like Supreme Court Judges, Directors of medical services and CEOs of top businesses.
      Some women have achieved despite an array of gender prejudices. But the rest are playing against loaded dice.
      Compare UK and Lanka with Scandinavia to understand where gender equality has gone missing in UK and Lanka.

    • 4
      6

      Raj-UK:
      “Do we need to vote for female candidates just because of their gender & not capability?’

      Yes, this is the situation that government policies aimed at “equal representation” of women puts us into and what articles like this effectively promote.

      “Political parties should address poverty & not politicise a non existent gender issue for the sake of votes.”

      I don’t know which of the parties started this “women’s empowerment’ thing but it seems that all the major parties have got on the bandwagon. It can’t be Sajith P. who started this because he is remarkably devoid of “original” ideas and his forte is copying others’ election pledges. 😊

    • 1
      4

      Raj-UK:
      “Your article ‘Gender Equality, Empowerment Of Women & The JVP’ has no reference to the JVP as the title suggests.”

      Didn’t you see “To be continued” at the end of the article?

      • 1
        5

        P.S.
        The author is probably going to include plug for the JVP at the end of this series of articles, in which he will express his hope and belief that women’s empowerment, etc. will take a turn for the better under their government.

      • 1
        1

        Leonard Jayawardena

        I did see the cont. bit but I expected some reference to JVP somewhere in the write up & not as the punch line at the end

  • 2
    7

    Lionel.

    I am afraid you are a bit out of touch with the reality in Srilanka.
    In the first instance women outnumber men population wise.
    Females outnumber Males as Teachers in schools all over the country.
    If you walk into any Govt.Dept.there are more females than males. There maybe an exception only where women cannot be employed.
    How about the State Banks? Same story.
    Gender inequality true. Women outnumber Men

    Women are therefore on Top.
    Men have to take it from Below in more ways than one.

    • 2
      6

      Plato:
      “In the first instance women outnumber men population wise.”

      Correct and I would also add they have a higher longevity (females 79.5, men 73.1).

      Yes, in virtually every sector women are very fairly represented employment-wise. Where they underrepresented in relation to their population, that is not because they are held back by society but because of their choice (for example, engineering, IT and politics) or both choice and physical unsuitability (for example, construction work).

      Yes, a fairly cogent case can be made for men being the real underdogs in many cases. 😊

  • 8
    5

    During 89-92, JVP did a great harm to the women of Sri Lanka by taking away their beloved sons forever. Those mothers never had a good and normal life after their sons were caught in premediated killings. Many of them are caught by hallozinations even after 35 years of the brutal era.

    I know how many parents are still suffering because they cannot be with their children. Every year when they see me, they look at me with glassy eyes and say “if my son were alive, he would be like you, my dear son”: I will never agree with fascists in this life. No matter where I live, I am against fascists.
    .
    If gender equality is at the top of their list, why was Dr. Harini Amarasuriya not among the small delegation that visited India 4 weeks ago? If she had been picked up as she spoke better English than the JVP in the delegation, they would have known more.

  • 12
    3

    “Gender Equality, Empowerment Of Women & The JVP”

    Yeah! In Lanka, women are good only for one thing: to take advantage of! When men are in trouble and their humbug won’t work anymore, they put women to the front.

    Didn’t Wijeweera send girls into battle and hide himself? ……. What about that beauty queen who was marched down in the equality-dress and shot in the broad daylight? ……. Shot with bullets blessed by the Mahanayakes of all the three chapters ……… and given a proper Pacifist Sinhala Buddhist burial.

    There was equality only in the LTTE: they used men and women suicide-bombers equally! There would’ve been even more equality if Prabakaran was a woman or dressed up as one to show kinship (an idea AKD should seriously consider) ……. Hindu-trained minds are more equalizing than Sinhala-Buddhist-trained minds. …….. Although not many practice the true concepts of either. ……….. They are just engrossed in what they have evolved to represent: their day-to-day and long-term survival needs.


    In all of the animal-realm …….. humans are the most artificial with self-manufactured bogus morals ……. just to feel good: not to practice. Nothing else.

    • 7
      2

      cont

      Walk into any natural jungle ……. the animals are the most natural ……… burdened with only survival sans morals. ……… There are no Ranils, Mahindas, Mahanayakes, Cardinals, …….. in Wilpattu/Yala/Udawalawe ……. even though they are Lankans too.

      The problem with you guys is …….. you are burdened with layers and layers of “manufactured” education – Drs, Profs, …… you name it. …….. You can’t think straight: you expect the impossible from every situation. Always left disappointed ……. and complaining.

      Every morn when I wake up I thank my luck I never went to school …… sure, I “went to school” – I was only physically there – but I blocked my mind and ears and never learned ……. all the bullshit you the brilliant students are burdened with.

      I’m not burden with education, religion, philosophy, ideology, morals, ethics ……. or even thinking …… I see straight. …….. nothing bend light for me …….

      If self-deception is ye thang …… be my guest. It’s a free world.


      Thank my lucky stars I never encountered Sinhala_Man in any school …….. and I still don’t know who he is!

      I would’ve been a raving casualty …….. like thousands of other students …….. now lost their way …… How can the blind lead the blind?

      Everyone wants to teach. Not learn. Or practice.

      And he is not the only teacher in Lanka.

      Every man for himself and God for us all.

      • 2
        4

        Dear “nimal fernando,”
        .
        Two observations on your comment.
        .
        FIRST
        .
        You’ve said,
        .
        “the animals … ……… burdened with only survival sans morals.”
        .
        OK, no morals.
        .
        But after they’ve fed don’t you think that this will come into play?
        .
        https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-4136760
        .
        Has anybody applied that to animal needs: your favourite activity – sex? Quite unrelated to a cognitive awareness of Darwin’s Theories about the survival of the Species, and Richard Dawkins (he’s still living) speculations on the selfish gene, there would be sexual desires in both male and female.

        .
        The problem appears to be that I can never get out of my skin, and even in to that of my wife. Animals?
        .
        I’m sure that (sinner that I am) I have eaten very much more than one whole “animal” (parts of the poor Tuna Fish that I ate today included), but I can never get into the animal’s mind – not even if we consider what Kumar David says about the Chinese considering monkey brain, to be a delicacy:
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/ancient-values-influence-behaviour-centuries-later/
        .
        Too late to say so there.
        .
        Isn’t “mind” different from brain?
        .
        What does Leonard Jayawardena say? And “davidthegood”?

        • 1
          4

          Dear nimal,
          .
          I did submit a “Second” observation on what was technically yesterday, but I don’t think that it’s going to be published.
          .
          I ended it challenging nimal to declare his own identity, having given him even more details about myself.
          .
          No problem. I hope that nimal knows who he is!
          .
          Panini Edirisinhe

        • 8
          1

          SM,

          Unbeknown to you ….. naturally ….. you’re doing what a typical layered “educated” man would do: pushing forth other people’s ideas/work. Have you got any Ideas/opinions of your own?

          Not others, but what do you yourself think?

          • 4
            2

            Well, my opinion is that we’re trapped within ourselves and we can’t really “understand” any other human, let alone an animal.
            .
            I must confess that I’m getting confused by all this myself!
            .
            Never mind! I get the feeling that you’re much more educated than me!
            .
            Yes, many things are “unbeknown” to me.
            .
            Still I enjoy reading your strange comments!

        • 0
          0

          Sinhala_Man, We were created body, soul and spirit. Adam was made from dust (body) and then God breathed his spirit (no life without spirit) which became man’s (spirit), so that man became a living (soul). Hence we are body, soul and spirit. Soul has free will to live as we please, in the areas of mind, emotions and will for all of which we are responsible, whose actions will be judged even as sins needing to be erased for eternal life with our God.

          • 0
            0

            Sinhala_Man, wish to add summary of 1.body (brain), 2.spirit got corrupted with sin of disobedience of Adam, and 3.soul where we sin with our mind and karma can be forgiven as we repent and ask for forgiveness from God due to Jesus as substitute having taken it at the cross and hence we step into right standing with God.

    • 10
      1

      nimal fernando

      I was watching videos by youtubers, very educational. These youtubers travel all over the island and make videos to kelp understand people of various towns, villages, people, etc.
      Here is the one that covers Alvai , large village near Point Pedro in the North.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmY_98WKzJY

      The village cultivates Tobacco, chilly, …… even though these areas lack water facilities the village, cultivated fields, look green, lush greenery. You cannot just sit down and watch an area thriving, don’t you think something must be done to stop it or destroy it?

      Gota/Mahinda and Kamala could do one thing, demand Ranil to transfer/sack the present governor of Northern Province, Prince Sarojini Manmatharajah Charles and replace her with Anuradha Yahampath the former governor of Eastern province who brought outsiders to illegally occupy in a land grab scheme in the Mayilathamadu Madhavanai region (Batticaloa). The original cattle raring farmers now have no grazing land for their livestock. ,…..

      I trust Anuradha Yahampath could do a better job in Alvai village, …. and Saffron clad thugs could send their people to permanently settle there, eventually grabbing entire region, in the process as expected destroy the land.

      • 10
        0

        Native,

        Soon after the end of the war I was in Jaffna ……. and was shocked to see upcountry vegetables grown in small plots/courtyads all over ……. they are very industrious hardworking people even though they don’t have water or ideal conditions ……..


        Watch this …… 32:27 ……….. Ahilan Kadirgamar …….. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_i9E49k2pUQ

        That’s a guy out there on the ground helping out.

        I like to do that but I won’t …….. because I’m a self-centred selfish bullshitter ……. who can come up with millions of solutions ……. but won’t even do one …….

        • 9
          0

          nimal fernando

          Thanks for the clip.
          I understand Ahilan Kadirgamar and his friends founded a Cooperative bank in the North and continue run it with a view to helping customers/members in anyway possible.

      • 5
        0

        Native,

        If you have kids …… don’t pass down your hatreds, fears, bugaboos …… to them.

        “I know that I’m a prisoner
        To all my Father held so dear
        I know that I’m a hostage
        To all his hopes and fears
        I just wish I could have told him in the living years” ……… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2J2qn1xAN8

        If you have kids, especially daughters, you can’t leave them without survival skills ……… the world is going to be ever increasing tougher place for them ….. financial independence is the key for them to live life on their own terms.

        First I thought it’s a rip off because of the price for such a small book ……. but I find it’s a very good book about investing for the young ……. written by an Indian immigrant. It doesn’t make things overly complex; keeps things very simple. Let your kids read it. ….. https://www.amazon.com/Word-One-Investor-Another-Techniques/dp/1722884452#customerReviews

        If you can’t get it I can send it to you.

  • 1
    0

    When it comes to Gender Equality , what comes to one’s mind is , women
    suffering ,especially at the hands of men . Is it always true ? Under some
    circumstances , in our country , yes especially in public places and public
    transport . But in private , family and social life , they are the leading
    force except Muslim women . In some cases like D I G Vas Gunawardana ,
    why was his wife in prison ? Many men in many departments in higher
    positions get wrong jobs done through their wives . It is a cancer in our country .
    And in family and social life , wives go in the front and husbands follow .
    Again Muslims are an exception because it is a male dominated society .
    In some Sinhala families , husbands are just broomsticks and deaf and blind .
    Silent sufferings of men is immeasurable in our country , especially among
    the upper class of the majority . And the reason I believe is , men take enough
    money and property in marriage and mortgage themselves to their wives for
    ever . So any authors writing great articles must try to analyse real ground
    situations prevailing in the country alongside the books .

  • 2
    6

    Here we go again with Lionel Bopage giving us more of the same.

    I get the impression that the views and opinions expressed in the article are based on what he has uncritically imbibed from the academic community to which he belongs and not on real life observations and independent reflection. He takes for granted the orthodoxies of the particular academic echo chamber he inhabits as true and he has no wish to be a heretic. The article is replete with assertions and sweeping statements and suffers from a paucity of actual facts in support of alleged discriminations, etc. In those few instances where he is specific, such as the alleged resistance in the US for a female president (which I refuted in a comment under his first article), a close scrutiny of the facts will give the lie to his views.

    Author: “According to the UN based data, women comprise almost half the world’s agricultural workforce and nearly half of the world’s small-scale livestock managers in low-income countries.”

    Then the other half comprises men, so there is perfect equality and what is the issue?

  • 4
    6

    Author writes disapprovingly:

    “The latest figures indicate 56 percent of the global population believes that when a mother undertakes paid work, children will suffer.”

    Isn’t it a universally observable fact that in the absence of parents children suffer? If the mother undertakes paid work, then the children are deprived of the presence of both parents since the father works too. Does the author wish us to live in a world where children are kept in a day care center–where else–while the parents are busy making money? What about the rights of the children?

    Hasn’t the author heard of cases in Sri Lanka where the children have been mistreated and abused while the mother was employed abroad?

    • 7
      0

      Ever wondered why the mother went abroad to do a menial job?

      • 1
        5

        Thanks, SJ, for yet another one of those interminable, brief and smart alec–and often out of context–comments of yours.

        I was citing that example to illustrate what can possibly happen to children when they are deprived of the protection and love of at least one caring parent. Yes, it can be extreme economic hardship that drives our women to work abroad in menial jobs.

        However, the author has in mind the general economic empowerment of virtually all women, which usually entails going outside the home for work, not just those women in extreme poverty.

        There are Sri Lankan families in extreme poverty who somehow get by without the children being put into a vulnerable position. I personally know two families who are in such poverty that they often have to skip meals among other hardships and deprivations, but they somehow survive, so when it comes to women going abroad for menial jobs, it’s a matter of priorities. Are you going to better your economic condition at the risk of putting your children in harm’s way or do you forgo that for the sake of being near your children and giving them the love, protection and care they deserve?

  • 0
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    “The latest figures indicate 56 percent of the global population believes that when a mother undertakes paid work, children will suffer.”

    To a great extent this is true, unless there is extended family around to give a hand when the mother undertakes paid work. Day-care and creches can never take the place of parenting for children especially below school level. In daycares, one finds that children are mistreated by their peers- the hunkier child plummeting the frailer child with the daycare worker either ignoring it or having a hard time supervising the different personality types of children. It happens so often, even with extra assistance. Services to handle differing genetic and personality types require huge governmental funding, which could be given for other more essential economic activity if the mother stayed and looked after her own child.

    Nothing could be better than a close family network for the child in similar genetic and personality surroundings. At that young age, the child can become psychologically damaged with the constant bullying between differering personality and physical types. Families of upper economic brackets like to show off their working women and and have the attitude of, “If we can do it, everybody else should, or work towards our epitome.”

    • 1
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      They usually have qualified governesses to look after their children. But for the poor masses, and especially the women who go overseas for employment, the child is usually neglected both physically and psychologically, unless close family network is in place. A adage in education philosophy is, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

      “Women are often expected to undertake most of the unpaid care and domestic work, thus restricting their time available for education, training and paid employment.”

      Most women consider this as an honorable occupation, expecting no payment. Places like the US encourage working women because that is the only way they can sustain their commercialized economy. Self-sustenance is not their aim, as their economy is based on continuous futuristic commercial venturism.

      “According to the UN based data, women comprise almost half the world’s agricultural workforce and nearly half of the world’s small-scale livestock managers in low-income countries.”

      This is the traditional work of most places. Let’s face it: the menfold do the bulk of the work in farming communities.

      “ Working-class women and enslaved women across the world have always been engaged in attending to heavy manual labour.”

      This is only in places where they are engaged in war and terrorism and/or are economically challenged. Their men in the end, do the bulk of the work. We must consider the state of our men too.

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        In the end, it is the privileged Elite that cause the economic problems that oppress both women and men.

    • 0
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      …pummeling*, I mean.

  • 1
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    Here’s something that I came across when fooling around on the internet.
    .
    “I once believed that I possessed creative talent, but I have given up this idea; a woman must not desire to compose – there has never yet been one able to do it. Should I expect to be the one?”
    .
    A woman disparaging her own abilities! To be found towards the bottom of this long Wikipedia entry:
    .
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clara_Schumann

    • 1
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      Guess we have come a long way since then, and women do not need to have so many children (especially to fight in wars), and hence can involve themselves in creative talent. Men too do not need to work as much and can do the same. Those days, it was only the men of some riches who could indulge in creative and intellectual pursuits. Masses were down in the field and shores working at hard labour to support their families.

    • 0
      1

      What I submitted contained this section as well. All very relevant, and the entirety was within 200 words. Puzzled!
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      A handful of problems about this! First those must be a translation of her words from her native German. Clara, born 13 September 1819, lived mostly in Düsseldorf, and had eight children all born by 1854. She became a widow on on 29 July 1856, and finally died as late as 20 May 1896, having been a great piano performer and teacher.
      .
      Her work began to be explored only after 1980, by which time most readers would have been born! Here is some of her work from a recording probably made by someone else on 14 Feb 2016.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pw4fMNMO90U&list=PLH2tnBZzETg6BXzF9h4QzWfcBfy5dku_Q
      .
      Let others who are better qualified research all this; but clearly women were not supposed to aspire too much.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe

  • 0
    1

    ’72 percent of the 8.5 million economically active population in Sri Lanka are males while only 35 percent are females. However, women comprise 52 percent the population, yet the female representation in parliament is only 5.3percent. ‘

    we can forget about ecoomic development if we have 65% of adult females not contributing to the economy.Like western countries we ave to get them out to work.We should see why they are not working and find solutions for it.As for female representation of only 5.3 % in the parliament that also should be looked into and analysed as to the reasons for it.When i did the ICMA,now known as CIMA we were trained to get the necessary information to make the decisions.That was our main role.We get all the relevant information to te top management so that they can make the right decisions.same principle here.Once we get the infomation and collate it we can make the decisions to find a solution to the problems of underemployment of women and underrepresentation in parliament.

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    Dr Harini Amarasuriya is in London.
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeXbHY_VM_I
    .
    .
    152 minutes
    .
    Frankly, I’m nonplussed by so much of it being in Sinhala.
    Panini Edirisinhe

  • 1
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    This gender thing of NPP seems to be catching up fast with Harini in London addressing London Gals of Sri Lankan origin. No wonder everyone else is throwing a fit.

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