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Australian High Commission celebrates “Press for Progress: International Women’s Day 2018”

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Professor Maithree Wickremesinghe Rings the Bell for gender equality at the Colombo Stock Exchange with Australian High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson, IFC Country Manager Amena Arif and Chairman-designate of the United Nations Global Compact Dilhan Fernando.


This year’s International Women’s Day theme ‘Press for Progress’ is a timely reminder to celebrate achievements to date and renew efforts moving forward. With movements such as #MeToo and, #TimesUp, there is clearly global momentum to press for progress on gender equality.

Australia is supporting a range of initiatives to promote gender equality in Sri Lanka. Through our Women in Work program we are partnering with the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, to create more and better jobs for women. 

AA WIL event photo– Launch of the Australia Awards Women in Leadership Network with Dr. Randika Jayasinghe, Dr. Shashini Gamage, Abhiramy Vanniyakulam De Silva, and Dr Sepali Kottegoda.

“Last week I convened a select group of CEOs, political leaders and international organisations to identify opportunities to advocate together for increased female workforce participation,” Australian High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson said.

On 7 March, Australia partnered with the Colombo Stock Exchange, IFC and UN Women to ‘Ring the Bell for Gender Equality’. The event was also an opportunity to celebrate the growing number of Sri Lankan women on the boards of listed companies.

Australia is supporting leadership opportunities for women. “The introduction of a 25 per cent quota for women’s representation in local government was a milestone for Sri Lanka, and it is important that this commitment be met,” said High Commissioner Hutchesson. Australia has supported capacity-building of candidates, public awareness campaigns and raised the important issue of violence against women during elections.

Caucus Lunch photo - Australian High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson with Thalatha Atukorale, Dr. Anoma Gamage, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, newly elected local authority Counsellors Jency Dhamayanthi, Thimalka Poththewela, Sabeena Musafer, and Country Director Search for Common Ground Mohammed Nawaz and Country Director IFES, Beverley Hagerdon.

Later this month, senior members of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus will travel to Australia through our Women in Local Leadership program. The visit will provide the opportunity to share experiences with fellow women parliamentarians and discuss some of Australia’s initiatives to promote gender equality.

This week also saw the launch of the Sri Lankan chapter of the Women in Leadership network. This new network of women who have studied in Australian universities provides an important opportunity for women to share experiences, advocate and support other professional women through mentoring.

“International Women’s Day is an important occasion, but we need to ensure that we keep up the momentum throughout the year,” said High Commissioner Hutchesson. “It is up to all of us to Press for Progress.”

International Women’s Day presents an opportunity to motivate friends, families, colleagues and communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.  All women deserve the right to live free from violence, control their bodies, pursue education, participate fully in political processes and earn equal pay for equal work, free from harassment.

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