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Dialogue addresses gender inequalities

Forum says women continue to face discrimination in South Asia

Women at work on a tea plantation in Sri Lanka Women at work on a tea plantation in Sri Lanka
  • by ucanews.com reporter, Malabe
  • Sri Lanka
  • October 5, 2011
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A women’s group has highlighted the ongoing struggle for gender equality in South Asia during a forum held over the weekend.

Manel Chandrasekara, a researcher and trainer at the Women’s Bureau of Sri Lanka, said gender inequality is characterized largely by social barriers and concepts of impurity.

“In most South Asian countries, the birth of a girl gives deep pain to parents, even tempting some to attempt to kill unborn female children,” she told the forum, which was held from September 29 to October 3 at the Community Training Center in Thalahena Malabe.

“Women need to be empowered at all levels. [They] need knowledge and awareness so that they can express their voices,” she said.

“Harnessing the collective voices of women and ensuring that they have the … capability to make decisions and take actions.”

Chandrasekara also drew attention to cultural taboos and practices, saying that boys are generally better cared for than girls and not held to the same standards of discipline.

The program was organized by the Sri Lankan Women’s Commission and the International Movement of Catholic Agriculture and Rural Youth, with assistance from the National Catholic Youth Federation.

Delegates from India and Sri Lanka participated in the event.

Anchu Joseph, 23, a layman from the Archdiocese of Changanacherry in India who attended the event, said women face many challenges there.

“Sometimes we don’t have freedom. We have restrictions on almost everything.”

She said the issue of dowries has become a major issue in India, while infanticide for female children remains a threat.

“In rural areas, lack of education and economic resources, poverty and inadequate healthcare facilities lead to the killing of infant girls,” said Sirisha Dasari, a lay woman from the Diocese of Guntur in India.

“Compared with urban areas, these types of incidents widely occur. So we should educate those people through Church awareness programs.”
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