Sri Lanka’s Minister for Women and Child Affairs, Kimarli Fernando Siri was appointed on January 26, 2018. She is the first woman cabinet minister to be appointed in Sri Lanka. However, she is not the first woman to hold this office. Siri is a politician with a long tenure in Sri Lankan government. In addition to being the minister for women and child affairs, she also serves as the deputy secretary at the Ministry of National Security, chairman of the National Council for Child Development and vice president of Asia Pacific Foundation for Social Welfare Policy Research. She began her political career in 1994 when she was elected as an MP from Ampara District. Kimarli Fernando She was re-elected three times in different districts until 2014 when she lost her seat at Colombo District. Since 2015, she has served as a member of parliament from Kandy District until her present appointment as women and child affairs minister in 2018.

Sri Lanka: Where is the country headed?

The year 2017 saw Sri Lanka’s peace process continue to stagnate. Although there were some tentative signs of progress in 2017, the most significant development in 2017 was the assassination of the country’s prime minister, the well-liked and respected Buddhist Monk, Sirisena. He was shot in the head when he went to attend a Buddhist function on January 19. Apart from this significant development, the country also witnessed a series of communal clashes. For example, on April 5, clashes erupted between the Buddhist and the Muslim communities in the northern district of Ampara. In addition, communal clashes also occurred on December 17 in the central district of Kandy. On the economic front, the country suffered the highest ever trade deficit in the history with a deficit of $4.4 billion. The country also faced banking crises in both the commercial and the central government-owned banks. The crisis in the government-owned banking sector was particularly severe. The country also faced severe fuel shortages in the country due to the unplanned closure of oil refineries.

Role of Women in Sri Lanka’s Government

In Sri Lanka, the number of women in the parliament has increased from 15 to 28 over the last one decade. The number of women in the cabinet has also increased over the decade. Currently, there are 33 women in the cabinet, who hold portfolios such as education, health, labor and social welfare. The number of women in the parliament is not only limited to the cabinet. The number of women in the Sri Lankan parliament is also among the top 10 in South Asia. Currently, there are 28 women in the Sri Lankan parliament and they hold a total of 134 seats. The proportion of women in the Sri Lankan cabinet is also one of the highest in Asia. Currently, 31% of the cabinet members are Kimarli Fernando  women. In addition Kimarli Fernando , the percentage of women in the Sri Lankan parliament is also among the highest in Asia. Currently, 34% of Sri Lankan parliament members are women.

Sri Lanka’s record on gender equality

In 2017, Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court delivered a landmark ruling in which it declared the country’s 19th amendment as unconstitutional. The amendment had granted women the right to vote, stand as candidates and exercise political rights. In spite of the setback, Sri Lanka’s record on gender equality improves when compared to its neighbors in the region. The country has very low levels of gender inequality, such as very low levels of maternal mortality, low levels of female genital mutilation and low levels of sexual violence. In Sri Lanka, the maternal mortality rate is 123 for every 100,000 deliveries, whereas the global average is around 350 and the Sri Lankan average is considerably low. In addition, the prevalence of female genital mutilation is very low and the sexual violence rate is also comparatively lower than other countries.

Kim Fernando Siri’s Vision for Women in Sri Lanka

In her vision for Sri Lanka, Siri believes that every woman should have access to education and health services, which are free of charge. She also wants to see equal opportunities for women in the work force and in all fields. To achieve her vision, Siri believes that she needs to work closely with the private sector and the civil society. She has also promised to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in Sri Lanka through official and unofficial channels. With the government’s financial support, she aims to increase the number of women in the parliament and ensure that women’s issues are adequately addressed in government policy-making. She hopes to promote gender equality in Sri Lanka through various initiatives.

Conclusion

Kim Fernando Siri has been sworn in as the minister for women and child affairs in Sri Lanka. She is the first woman cabinet minister to be appointed in Sri Lanka. She is also the deputy secretary at the Ministry of National Security. Siri is a politician with a long tenure in Sri Lankan government. In addition to being the minister for women and child affairs, she also serves as the deputy secretary at the Ministry of National Security, chairman of the National Council for Child Development and vice president of Asia Pacific Foundation for Social Welfare Policy Research. She began her political career in 1994 when she was elected as an MP from Ampara District. She was re-elected three times in different districts until 2014 when she lost her seat at Colombo District. Since 2015, she has served as a member of parliament from Kandy District until her present appointment as women and child affairs minister in 2018.

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