Women On Top
“In actuality, every day should be women’s day and every day we must respect our women, treat them with the dignity they deserve and nurture them, hold them dear – for they are the persons we all need to thank for giving us life.”
This year Women on Top – EQUAL GROUND’s annual celebration of International Women’s Day – focused on the growing violence against women in Sri Lanka, specifically the Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (LBT) women of this country. Held at the Goethe Institute on 9th March 2012, the event was a high tea for women only, attracting an audience of women from the corporate sector, NGO & CBO sectors and concerned individuals.
Key note speaker Madam Hilde Haraldstad, Ambassador for Norway spoke of Norway’s commitment to lessening Gender Based Violence in her country and the significant role organisations such as EQUAL GROUND played in addressing violence against women in Sri Lanka.
This year a larger space was given to Transgender women. The Akasa Kusum Transgender Group of EQUAL GROUND performed a beautiful Pooja Dance to welcome the guests at the commencement of the event. Ms. Sashi Kumar spoke about her experiences growing up as a transgender person. “My first firm decision to continue my life as a transgender woman came from the violence I faced. Violence against me, preventing me from being what I am, left me no alternative,” she said. Later, the Akasa Kusum troupe presented a mini fashion show modeling clothes designed by Neesha.
Addressing the gathering, Rosanna Flamer-Caldera (Executive Director – EQUAL GROUND) spoke of the plight of women, not just in Sri Lanka but everywhere. According to statistics obtained, Women are disproportionately faced with injustice and non equal treatment merely due to their gender. They are often under-represented in politics – although comprising over half the world’s population, women occupy less than 20% of parliamentary seats worldwide. In Sri Lanka this number is less than 5%. Nearly 80% of the world’s 27 million refugees who are displaced by conflict are women and children. Women are also more likely to suffer from poverty and lack of education (nearly two-thirds of the world’s billion illiterate adults are female). Estimates state that 70% of the world’s poor are women, and while some debate may exist surrounding how this statistic was developed, it is well known that women consistently are underpaid for performing the same work as men in many, many countries.
52% of the human population is made up of women, yet we have been unable to stop the suffering, discrimination and violence.
Rosanna went on to say, “There are many root causes of violence against women and while the heterosexual female is most likely to experience violence due to her gender, the plight of Lesbian and Bisexual women are far worse as they are doubly victimized and discriminated against as a result of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”
EQUAL GROUND’s Poster and Advertisement campaign for International Women’s Day was launched with adverts appearing in the leading newspapers of Sri Lanka.
EQUAL GROUND and Women on Top continues to advocate on behalf of all women and strives for equality for all sexual orientations and gender identities; equal rights and fair treatment for all women in SriLanka.
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