International Women’s Day: Defending Women’s Land Rights in Sri Lanka
This International Women’s Day, the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights joined with ActionAid, CARE International, Estate Community Development Mission, Law & Society Trust, Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum, Oxfam Australia, Praja Abhilaasha Network and Women & Media Collective, issuing a public appeal for women’s land rights in Sri Lanka. The following ad appeared in 9 newspapers across Sri Lanka, in English, Sinhala and Tamil.
The recent review (2011) of Sri Lanka by the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women highlighted the importance of these issues, and provided important recommendations which now need to be followed up on by civil society actors and implemented by State authorities. There, the CEDAW Committee urged Sri Lanka to:
(a) Abolish the concept of “head of household” in administrative practice and recognize joint or co-ownership of land; and
(b) Speedily amend the Land Development Ordinance in order to ensure that joint or co-ownership be granted to both spouses when the State allocates land to married couples.
While these Concluding Observations are very important and useful from an advocacy perspective, little awareness exists among civil society, the donor community and others working in development initiatives on the CEDAW process and the Concluding Observations that are issued by the CEDAW Committee at the culmination of the State review, a situation which must be remedied. We hope that this International Women’s Day you will join us in our call to let gender equality take root in Sri Lanka!