GOSL, LTTE gender issues meeting said constructive

[TamilNet, Saturday, 08 March 2003, 12:00 GMT]
The Sub-Committee on Gender Issues (SGI), established by agreement between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE during the third round of negotiations in December 2002, held its first stage of meetings on Wednesday and Thursday in Kilinochchi, and in positive and constructive talks between delegates from both parties, agreed to secure“ active participation of women and the effective inclusion of gender issues in the peace process,” said a press release by the Sub-Committee.

The SGI said that its delegates acknowledged the widespread and profound suffering of women in the war-affected areas, and decided to focus on sustaining the peace process, resettlement, personal security and safety, infrastructure and services, livelihood and employment, political representation and decision-making and reconciliation.

On the request of both parties, the Norwegian government has appointed Dr. Astrid N. Heiberg, a professor of psychiatry to the University of Oslo, and past president of the International Red Cross Federation, as the resource person who will facilitate the meetings of the SGI.

The SGI was formed to identify issues of concern to women that need to be addressed and bring those concerns into the agenda of the peace process by reporting directly to the plenary session of the peace talks. Towards this end, the SGI will formulate gender guidelines and work closely with other Sub-Committees such as the Sub-Committee on Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs (SIHRN). In particular, the SGI will work with the SGI on the Accelerated Resettlement Programme for the Jaffna District (ARP-J) and the Fast-track Resettlement Programme for the Mannar District (FTRP-M) and other ongoing resettlement programmes in the North and East, according to the SGI press release.

Supporting the SIHRN’s project for traumatized women in Kilinochchi, the SGI said that it “strongly encourages SIHRN to set up similar centres in the East and in other districts affected by the conflict.”

The SGI said that it would establish a secretariat in Kilinochchi an office in Colombo as well. It said that the committee members visited several welfare projects for women in Kilinochchi and that the next meeting would take place during April 4-5, also in Kilinochchi, but future meetings will take place in different regions.

Full text of the press release issued after the meeting follows:

"FIRST MEETING OF THE SUB-COMMITTEE ON GENDER ISSUES (SGI) HELD IN KILINOCHCHI 5-6 MARCH 2003

The first meeting of the Sub-Committee on Gender Issues (SGI) was held in Kilinochchi 5-6 March 2003. The establishment of the SGI was agreed upon by the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam during the third session of negotiations in Oslo 2-5 December 2002. During the meeting in Oslo both parties expressed their willingness to set up this Committee in order to secure the active participation of women and the effective inclusion of gender issues in the peace process.

The deliberations between the delegates were positive and constructive and included a wide range of issues of concern to women in this stage of the peace process. The Committee members acknowledged the widespread and profound suffering of women as a consequence of war, especially in the most affected areas. In their determination to include the gender perspective in the peace process they decided to focus their efforts on the following issues in the immediate and long term:
  • Sustaining the peace process
  • Resettlement
  • Personal security and safety
  • Infrastructure and services
  • Livelihood and employment
  • Political represenatation and decision-making
  • Reconciliation
The SGI will report directly to the plenary session of the peace talks and work closely with the other Sub-Committees and other mechanisms associated with the peace process. It will identify issues of concern to women that need to be addressed and bring those concerns into the agenda of the peace process.

The SGI will immediately get involved with SIHRN in the process of Accelerated Resettlement Programme for the Jaffna District (ARP-J) and the Fast-track Resettlement Programme for the Mannar District (FTRP-M) and other ongoing resettlement programmes in the north and east.

The SGI supports SIHRN's project for traumatized women in Kilinochchi and strongly encourages SIHRN to set up similar centres in the east and in other districts affected by the conflict.

The SGI will formulate Gender Guidelines for the Sub-Committees and other mechanisms associated with the peace process. The SGI decided to establish a Secretariat in Kilinochchi. An office of the SGI shall be established in Colombo. The two entities will co-operate closely in serving all members of the SGI in their work.

The SGI discussed fundamental elements of the Terms of Reference that will be presented to the plenary session of the peace talks in April 2003.

The Committee members visited several projects concerning the welfare of women in the Kilinochchi area.

The next meeting of the SGI will take place in Kilinochchi 4-5 April 2003. Future meetings of the SGI will be organised in different areas.

The Sub-Committee on Gender Issues consists of the following five members from each of the parties.

GOSL:
  • Dr. Kumari Jayawardena
  • Dr. Deepika Udagama
  • Dr. Fazeela M. Riyaz
  • Ms. Kumuduni Samuel
  • Ms. Faizun Zackariya


LTTE:
  • Ms. Thamilini Subramaniam
  • Ms. Kaaya Somasyndram
  • Ms. Premila Somasyndram
  • Ms. Suthamathy Sanmugarajah
  • Ms. Yalisai Balasingham


The parties have requested Norway to appoint a resource person as a facilitator to the SGI. The Norwegian government assigned Dr. Astrid N. Heiberg, a professor of psychiatry to the University of Oslo, and past president of the International Red Cross Federation."

 

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