The recognition conferred to women in a society is the yardstick with which the development standard of that society can be judged, President Maithripala Sirisena said in his official message of International Women's Day.
He said, ‘the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,’ and added 'However, when we examine the situation in the present day, after passing several eras of severe economic and social transformation, we have to acknowledge that several issues have arisen regarding the role of women in society.
'Even though Sri Lanka was blessed with the first female Prime Minister and the first female Executive President in the world, the women and children in the country are still facing issues of safety.
'Women in Sri Lanka are the main source of earning foreign exchange as expatriate workers, apparel industry employees and workers in the plantation sector. But as a nation we cannot be happy about their earnings when we consider the way some of them are exploited, and the insecurity of their careers.
'Women can only be empowered by providing them the conditions to develop educational and vocational competency to attain secure jobs and remove legal and social barriers that prevent them from reaching positions of social leadership.
'Demonstrating the government's total commitment and sensitivity regarding the issue, a Bill was passed in Parliament recently, and other political structures.
'There should be a broad social discourse to ensure that the rights adopted through laws are established in society. International Women's Day falls today and is an ideal platform to continue this discourse on women.
'The message which is given to society through this year’s theme for International Women's Day, 'Empowered Women - Sustainable Futures' emphasises the need to empower women for sustainable development. It is a matter of satisfaction that civilized and mature societies without gender discrimination will take this discourse forward.'