Women are more honest and less corrupt

Women are more honest and less corrupt

International Women’s Day fell on March 8

Females are often considered to be the weaker sex. Men, of course, have the upper hand as they are usually considered as having the more physical strength. However, due to the suppression women have endured since ancient times, men are a notch or two higher than females in many aspects. Certain jobs have been labeled as strictly for men and certain sports and social aspects discriminate on the basis of sex. It is a man’s opinion most women look for, and women tend to depend on the opposite sex.

Sri Lankans are a people who allegedly respect and protect their women. Buddhists even consider mothers to be the Buddha of the home as a popular song goes; gedara budun Amma. Sri Lanka prides itself for having the first female prime minister, not in Asia, but the entire world. However, at a recent international forum MP Sudarshani Fernandopulle admitted that Sri Lanka bore the lowest female political representation in South Asia.Where has the nation gone wrong regarding females? Grooms still receive and demand dowries, which I believe degrades both the wife and women in general. Women who work are frowned upon. Men still crudely comment on women as if they are invisible or non-existent.

MP Sudarshani Fernandopulle’s words focus on the role women play in politics. Politics is definitely a game. It was once played by the brightest of minds, the wisest of people. At present politics is both ridiculed and laughed at. Many consider it a man’s game. Today however, women seem to be slowly stepping into politics. Names like Rosy Senanayake, Thalatha Athukorala and Pavithra Devi Wanniarachchi are spoken with the names of the many men in politics. Women are qualified judges, ministers and secretaries of high positions.

Chulani Kodikara in her publication The Struggle for Equal Political Representation of Women in Sri Lanka mentions a situation attorney-at-law and women’s rights activist, Nimalka Fernando faced in Sri Lanka. The author describes how a payment receipts issued by the Elections Commissioner during the local government elections of 2002 did not include either Mrs. or Ms. Instead a clerk had to replace the Mr. with the appropriate status for female contestants.
This is a very basic situation where females have to face discrimination in the political field. There was only a 4.9 percent of female representation in Provincial Councils as recent as 2008/2009. Kodikara also discusses the reasons for the low numbers of females in politics. It is perceived as a sphere for men and women rarely receive encouragement and support to enter this ‘male domain’. Or perhaps females are reluctant to stoop to the level of men comfortable in a world of corruption and violence. Furthermore, the traditional role of a woman – that of housekeeper, mother and wife may not allow a woman to step into politics. Character assassination, scandals and rumors may also be an obstacle to women.

A known name of the political field is Thalatha Athukorala. Speaking to The Nation she admitted that being a politician is not an easy job for a female. Our culture which promotes male dominance and character assassinations in politics discourages many women. Requests were made to include more females in politics, although this was sadly rejected. However, steps are being taken to reduce harassment and abuse.

MP Athukorala noted an increase in job opportunities for women, and more female employees in government institutions. Females though, are yet to build a stronghold in politics and this reluctance could be due to the economical background of families and the war and conflict situation that lasted decades. Progress will hopefully be noted at the next elections.Regarding harassment, MP Athukorala admits that there is quite a lot of hardship faced by females at the local government level, both during elections and normal life. However, at the parliament and at a national level, harassment and abuse towards females are at bare minimum.

Organizations and societies that focus on females are numerous. The Women and Media Collective, CENWOR (Centre for Women’s Research), Mothers and Daughters of Lanka are only a few such establishments. The Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Affairs has been established by the government to look into the welfare of women and children.

Child Development and Women’s Affairs Minister Tissa Karaliyadda expressed his views on the present role of women in Sri Lanka and commented that our nation gives women an equal if not more elevated place than men in society. He was happy to note that today, women have ventured into fields that were once deemed solely for men. This includes posts in the administrative and corporate sector. There are female pilots employed by Sri Lankan airlines, which really proves that women are no longer limited to traditional careers like teaching and nursing.

Minister Karaliyadda says that he discourages females leaving the country for job opportunities, especially to the Middle East. They could do more respectable jobs, he says, leaving the jobs available there for men. It is also important to reconsider your decision to go abroad if you are a mother. Touching on the matter of harassment, Minister Karaliyadda says it is a worldwide issue. Women are made aware of these issues, especially those of the grassroots level while the wrongdoers are punished. The latter proves to be quite difficult as law enforcement often does not adhere to the law.

The way women are perceived by society seems to have changed, according to Sri Jayewardenepura University Head of Sociology and Anthropology Department Dr Praneeth Abeysundara. He commented on the higher number of females than males studying at universities. This, according to him, is a clear sign of progress in the education of women. Today, the backwardness of women is mostly seen in rural areas, where society seems to be more male dominated. He adds that females tend to be more honest and less corrupt than men, especially at their jobs. However, the world is such that women need men for protection and safety, especially when it comes to field work, Dr Abeysundara says. Yet this seems to have been the duty of men for centuries.
The views and attitudes of society have changed. Yet, women are still faced with harassment and abuse, sexually, physically, mentally and verbally. Females are still degraded and very few are respected. This could be due to the unchanging attitude of certain men and the abuse of freedom by some women. Minister Tissa Karaliyadda points out that women often dress and behave inappropriately. Our culture makes certain demands, from both men and women. However, a woman can’t demand respect from a man if she is not worthy of such respect. Both sexes must change their behavior and attitudes to suit the culture and society in which we live in.

Sri Lankan society is considered backward and conservative. It is perceived to be male dominant. However, Sri Lanka bore the first female prime minister of the world, one of the few female presidents and history mentions a few queens too. Very few nations, especially those considered to be the leaders of the world are yet to pride themselves with female leaders. On a political level, many females hold positions at top ministries and many battle their issues alongside male politicians. Socially, women are more independent and have a voice of their own. The role of the Sri Lankan woman can definitely be developed further. However, today the nation is a much easier place to live in for females.


/ English

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