Third and Fourth Reports of States Parties: Sri Lanka
Publication Date: Oct 1999
This Sri Lanka CEDAW report describes significant advances in the status of women in the country despite the existence of strong cultural values and prejudices which continue to impede gender equality measures. There have been major achievements in women's education, an increase in female employment and a reduction in population growth rate in recent years. Sri Lanka has a national Human Rights Commission and a Ministry for Women's Affairs as well as a National Committee for Women which provides a consultative function and a National Plan of Action for Women. Constitutional provisions exist for equal opportunities however these are restricted since they do not cover non-state actors. This particularly affects women's employment in the private sector. For example, there are significant numbers of female migrant workers working overseas - particularly in the domestic service sector - who constitute a highly vulnerable group. Violence against women including state violence also remains a serious problem although legislation has been introduced to combat trafficking in women and children, and rape within marriage and sexual harassment are now legal offences. The ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka has had impacts on women including the rise in female-headed households resulting from the loss and migration of male family members. Policy measures aimed at refugee populations have therefore focussed on family re-unification. NGOs and the media have played an important role in raising awareness of women's concerns. One positive development has been the creation of credit and savings groups and women's organisations established at village level mobilising around women's health, rights and empowerment.