Onlanka News – By Janaka Alahapperuma
(Pix by: Nalin Hewapathirana)
International Women’s Day (IWD) falls tomorrow (08 March) and Sri Lanka celebrated this special day which is dedicated for women around the globe today on 07 March, the day before the official day at Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium. International Women’s Day was marked for the first time in March 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland and since then this day was annually celebrated worldwide as a global event. This year Sri Lanka celebrated its centenary under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa today at Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium.
The Colourful celebration was organized to mark the centenary of IWD by the SLFP women’s organizations and the theme of this year’s Women’s Day is “Daughters of Wonder- Bringing together the great daughters of the land to build a magnificent Sri Lanka”.
Addressing the gathering President Rajapaksa said that it was women who were mostly battered due to thirty years of brutal terrorism in Sri Lanka. He has to fulfill a great responsibility and duty towards the mothers, sisters and daughters who have suffered in the North and East as well as the South due to this menace, the President further added. The ‘Mathata Thitha’ programme was launched and smoking was banned in public places to strengthen women’s lives. He said that the women waited near school gates to protect their children from terrorism and at the same time they sacrificed their children to the security forces. The President stated that the women were given the power to setup the Government and the same responsibility is now being bestowed on them to build the country and therefore women should be given leadership. They are playing a crucial role in the country’s economy and the development drive. That is why the women have been given the responsibility to effectively carryout the programme of one million economic units. He noted that he is aware of the strength, courage and determination of women in Sri Lanka.
While speaking at the ceremony President Rajapaksa made these remarks and further stated that his UPFA government has always act committed to fulfill the responsibilities on its part for the betterment of the women. Furthermore, he is always ready to give opportunity to the voice of the women to be heard to safeguard their rights and said that around 150 female candidates are contesting for the upcoming local government elections under the UPFA ticket. The President also praised the service rendered by late Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike and current MP Kamala Ranathunga to the party and the country.
A former Minister for Women & Child Development, ex-General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee, senior leader of the Indian National Congress and the present Governor of the Indian State of Uttarakhand Mrs. Margaret Alva participated in the occasion as the guest of honour.
The Vihara Maha Devi Award was presented to the President Rajapaksa’s mother Dandina Dissanayake Rajapaksa at this ceremony. President’s sister Gandhini Rajapaksa accepted the award on behalf of the late mother.
Women’s Affairs Minister Tissa Karalliyaddha, Ministers Maithripala Sirisena, Basil Rajapaksa, Dullas Alahapperuma, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Dr. Sudharshani Fernandopulle MP, Parliamentarians, Foreign Diplomats, adviser of SLFP women’s organizations Pushpa Rajapaksa, Secretary, Ashoka Lankathilake, Treasurer, Kumari Balasuriya and large number of representatives of SLFP women’s organizations, celebrities and many special guests were amongst those who participated in the occasion.