15th ANNUAL GLOBAL GODDESS ARTEMIS AWARDS CEREMONY, WASHINGTON DC
OCTOBER 27th, 2011, THE RAYBURN HOUSE, CONGRESS BUILDING
‘’The secret of happiness is freedom”.
“The secret of freedom is courage" Thucydides.
Ambassador, Dr Palitha Kohona, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations was among those honored at the annual Artemis Awards Ceremony held at the Rayburn House, Congress Building, Washington DC.
The Euro American Women's Council acknowledges women and men leaders from around the globe for their distinguished achievements. The Awards Ceremony pays tribute to individuals from the fields of business, politics, medicine, sports, academia, diplomacy, science, arts and culture.
Among the other honorees were, Carolyn B. Maloney, Honorable US Congresswoman, New York, Mellane Verveer, Honorable US Ambassador at Large, Rodney P.Hunt, President/CEO - RPH Enterprise International, Owner/Founder RSIS Inc. Judy Kay Sheppard, President /CEO, Professional Services of America Inc. Giannis Voglis, Actor, Greece, Anna Giannopoulos, Entrepreneur / President of Young leaders EAWC, Canada, Susan Horsfall, Director of Government Relations/Principal, Aegis Atlantic Holding LLC, Mary Luiz Hallaway Hunt, Entrepreneur, Women's Advocate, Ling Hong, President Beijing Aoweiya Advertising Limited, China, Eleftheria – Zembou Prinou, President MediPrinou Enterprises, Greece.
The speakers included, Connie Lawn, Author/Senior White House Correspondent, Edie Fraser, Senior Consultant, Diversified Search, Carolyn B. Maloney, Honorable US Congresswoman, New York, and Mellane Verveer, US Ambassador at Large (recorded message).
Complete Remarks by Ambassador H.E. Dr. Palitha T.B. Kohona
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
Euro-American Women’s Council – Artemis
Congress Building, Washington D.C.
27th October, 2011
Madam Chair, distinguished guests,
I would like to thank the Euro-American Women’s Council for giving me this opportunity to be with you this evening and to make these brief comments. In particular, I would like to express my thanks to Mrs. Loula Loi Alafoyiannis for being the live wire behind this event. I also acknowledge the valuable contribution made by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney and for her presence here today.
Coming from the country that produced the worlds’s first elected woman Prime Minister, Sri Lanka, I am particularly proud to be with you this evening as you honour women who have made significant contributions to society and who have achieved eminence. Among them are women who have helped foster international relations and succeeded in business and in the professions, despite the odds. Although the women’s movement has scored many victories over the last few decades, there is still a long way to go before they can complement themselves on their achievements. As the popular saying goes, “A woman’s work is never done!” I would like to wish organizations such as Euro-American Women’s Council much strength as they promote the cause of women.
My country, Sri Lanka has, enjoyed universal adult suffrage since 1931 and women have been active in public life over the years. In the past six decades, since independence, they have been effectively integrated as equal partners in shaping the economic, political and social life of the country. The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index for 2010, ranked Sri Lanka 16th in the world in “gender egalitarianism.” We were placed ahead of the US, France and many European countries. Following independence in 1948, successive Governments have been seeking to ensure that the laws in the statute books and rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution are proactively translated into equality and justice for women in their everyday lives. The Constitution of Sri Lanka forbids any gender based discrimination. It also acknowledges that civil and political rights are interlinked with social, cultural and economic rights and that these reinforce each other. Sri Lanka ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as far back as 1981, long before many European and countries and acceded to the Optional Protocol in 2002.
At a time when the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) has bcome an urgent imperative, we have integrated the MDGs into the national development agenda. Sri Lanka is on track to reach most of the MDGs. Some have been achieved already. Among the notable achievements are those relating to equal primary education. The universal primary education net enrolment rate has reached 99 per cent in 2009 for both males and females. The proportion of students starting Grade 1 and reaching Grade 5 reached almost 100 per cent. The child mortality rate is 9.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births and maternal mortality is 39.3 deaths per 100,000 live births. These are the lowest in South Asia and compare well with most developing countries. Access to safe drinking water has reached nearly 85 per cent of all households. Literacy levels are high with female adult literacy rate at 97% and male adult literacy at 98% in 2010. It is significant that there is no gender disparity in most of these achievements. In secondary and tertiary education, the proportion of girls to boys exceeds 100 per cent. The result of all these is that in certain professions, the proportion of women now exceeds that of men. I can think of medicine, teaching, nursing, the law, etc. We are still lagging behind in the area of politics.
In the post conflict phase, the State, has invested in an ambitious development programme in the former conflict affected areas focusing on infrastructure and livelihood development. Sri Lanka set up special Women’s Protection Units with female Police officers and Women’s Centres in the internally displaced persons camps and are continuing to provide counselling services for conflict affected women. The Government has given special consideration to uplifting the social and economic status of war widows. Already bilateral assistance has been channelled to initiate a self employment programme for war widows in the East in collaboration with the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) of India. The protection of war affected women and children is a priority for the Government and every effort is being made to ensure that their lives are returned to normalcy as soon as possible.
Sri Lanka has achieved much in ensuring equality of opportunity for girls and women. But we will not rest on our laurels. We will continue to strive to achieve higher levels, including in politics.
I thank the EAWC again for the wonderful work that it is doing. I also congratulate the honoraries for 2011.