2018 Mar 8
Today is International Women’s Day.
A day where we can proudly celebrate how far women have come in this world in their harrowing fights against gender based violence as well as political and social restrictions. It is also a rallying point for women to continue to voice their views against certain measures of inequality they’ve yet to contend with.
Moving on from last year’s theme of Being Bold for Change, this year takes on #PressforProgress in a plea to not lose motivation in this lengthy process for advancement in gender equality and to keep pushing on.
Sri Lanka as a whole, despite having elected the world’s first female Prime Minister, has a long way to go in such a cause. Sri Lankan women face many unreported horrors of rape and sexual assault as well as political and economic difficulties and injustice.
Did you know that –
- Since 2010, the Female Labor Force Participation Rate has declined from 41% to 36%.
- Sri Lanka’s gender pay gap is 17%.
- Women’s unemployment rate as of 2012 was 13%, which was six times more than the men’s rate.
- Politically, women’s participation shows only a meagre increase of 3.4% from the 1st State Council to 5.7% in the current parliament.
- In developing countries, women typically work 12- 13 hours more per week.
- 2012-14 showed a 20% increase in rape of Sri Lankan women.
- Sri Lanka has also made the list of top 10 Countries with the highest rape crime.
- 72% of women living in tea plantations undergo Intimate Partner Violence.
- 60% of women living in poorer, urban areas of the Western Province undergo Intimate Partner Violence.
The numbers are daunting, but not surprising.
Traditional minds have given way to gender stereotyping that lead us to backtrack when it comes to gender equality. A perfect example of this is the gender stereotyping in schools and homes.
Of course, we do need the government to step up and take some responsibility over the situation when it comes to criminal justice and equal rights but what exactly can we, as the general public, do about these issues?
How can YOU Press for Progress in Sri Lanka?
We all want to change Sri Lanka’s gender inequality status, we all talk about it but how far do you actually go to bring about order? Instead of waiting on a higher authority, we should take matters into our own hands.
You could start by:
1. Promoting gender equality
As a parent, as a teacher, or an employer, be inclusive in your thoughts and actions when around people under your care. It empowers women and discourages archaic thinking on gender-stereotyping and the plethora of problems that comes with it.
2. Encourage necessary life-skills for girls and boys
Now this includes real-life problems that children will have to face, as well as critical thinking and acting in such dire situations. It is a much needed subject in our education system that teaches them how to handle themselves in a crisis and to avoid victim-blaming that deals severe blows to their mental health in cases of abuse.
3. Women as Leaders
Women are just as capable of excelling in their work as men, of course. Sri Lanka has a growing list of powerful woman but is short of reaching its peak due to gender preference when it comes to promotions and such. Recognize the talent the women around you have and appreciate them for it!
4. Challenge gender-limiting statements
This is something the world is excelling at right now. However, there are still those who keep quiet. Every voice makes all the difference- man or woman. Do not be afraid next time- stand up for gender equality.
5. Stand up for your ambitions
Many girls are encouraged to settle down once they reach their twenties. The nosy aunts and the meddling family friends all seem to want to know when it’ll happen, when you’ll have kids and so on. But really, Sri Lanka should be well past this phase. If you want to postpone the family life and advance in your career, then go for it! Work hard, dream big and most of all- don’t give up.
6. Embrace diversity
Sri Lanka is becoming well known for its racial tensions. How can we expect people to acknowledge women’s rights when we can’t respect human rights in general? Recognize that as a whole we all aim for peace, happiness and success and in that way we are no different from each other. Stick together and stand up for what is right.
7. Addressing Public Transport Harassment
Most often men in public transport act like perverts simply because they feel like they can get away with it. Public transport is often the best and safest place to confront such a person as you will be surrounded by multiple witnesses- so don’t be afraid to give him an earful when it happens.
8. Empower Yourself
Simply put, we have to make the best of our situation till our “Press for Progress” takes effect. It will be a long process but we have come this far so it is definitely not the time to give up. Take up self-defense. This will be a skill that will most probably save your life one day. It will make walking alone on the roads a less troublesome experience. As a bonus, it would also add to our cause by teaching any domineering men that a woman can protect herself just as well as any man can.
We don’t always have to wait for a higher authority to take control. Yes, it is sad that we can’t depend on them for our safety, simply to address issues such as street harassment but rather than complain and go nowhere with the issue- take action. We can go to great lengths to keep this revolution going until it becomes a matter that simply cannot be ignored. It’s time to #PressForProgress