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Sunday July 14th, 2024

Hashtag Generation launches Reform Charter for Media Houses to bring gender equality.

ECONOMYEXT – A Media Gender Charter launched by Hashtag Generation in Collaboration with IREX identifies ethics and sets minimum standards, principles and actions needed to promote gender equality in media reporting as well as workplace policies in Sri Lanka’s media sector.

Hashtag Generation is a civil society youth movement advocating for civic and political participation of youth, especially young women and young people from minority groups.

IREX is a global development and education organization that focuses on a wide array of issues and works in more than 100 countries on issues such as education, leadership, information, and youth.

The Charter also covers an ethical code of conduct on reporting and terminology for LGBT+ people.

The charter identifies problematic working conditions such as unequal access to career opportunities, equal pay, promotion etc.

Few examples of problematic working conditions highlighted in the charter are:

– Sexual harassment and strong male bias in newsrooms.

– Certain media roles being perceived as men’s jobs.

– Female employees incurring extra costs due to transporting women home after 7 pm.

– Female journalists facing double the number of Cyber-bullies simply for being women

– Women journalists in Tamil media face extra cultural, geographic, and safety challenges.

And to uphold the issues it has identified and to portray gender in fair and equal manner it highlights key areas and practices.

“Portraying gender in a fair and ethical manner will only occur when it becomes a concern for all media
practitioners across Sri Lanka: media owners, journalists, photographers, news editors, camerawomen and cameramen, anchors, cartoonists, program producers and directors, TV/radio debate program producers, bloggers, podcasters, self-regulatory bodies, journalist schools, and unions, fact-checkers and HR managers in media institutions, and citizen digital journalists. Civil Society actors can contribute to this process through monitoring, advocacy and through dialog with media,” Hashtag Generation notes in the charter.

“Many media institutions still do not have gender equality training, gender policies, or anti-sexual harassment policies in place.

“The Charter calls for staff and contractors to receive gender training and specific training on
prevention of sex discrimination and sexual harassment and an understanding of acceptable and
unacceptable conduct.”

The objectives of the charter it says reflects key points and aspirations of many civil society organizations, activists and gender experts etc.

Some of the topics it explores and gives guidelines are:

Gender sensitivity in reporting include:

– Use non-sexist language and portray women and girls as they really are, rather than re- reframed gender stereotypes.
– Objectification and commodification of women sexually when they don’t fall in line with society’s prescriptions of how women ‘should behave’ or ‘should not behave’.
– Avoid confining media stories from only on topics that make women look as though they are perpetual victims’.
– Refrain from glamorizing or justifying violence and abuse against women and girls.
– Refrain from publishing the identity of survivors of sexual violence, respect their privacy, and take reasonable steps to avoid re-traumatization.

Other topics include ‘Inclusiveness and Equality’ by giving women opportunities to present their opinions and expertise in written and broadcast media coverage on all topics: politics, government policies, elections, employment, the economy, new legislation, peace and security, health, education, science and technology, trade, international relations, rural and agricultural issues, sports, climate change, arts, culture, infrastructure planning, transport, service provision of utilities – water, waste disposal, electricity, internet.

In addition, include issues of particular importance to women’s lives in your mainstream media coverage.

Include a gender balance of women and men in panel discussion programs on TV and radio.

“Use language in reporting that is gender-neutral and gender-inclusive. For example, use: ‘If a journalist works hard, he or she will succeed’ or ’Journalists who work hard will succeed’, but NOT ‘If a journalist works hard, he will succeed’.”

The Charter further on working environment, sexual harassment and elimination of sexual harassment on assignment.

Implementation of the charter

It suggests that all media houses should establish internal mechanisms to implement the objectives in the gender charter

– Each media institution should set its own target and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track the progress of their organization on gender equality.

– Action Plan – each media institution should draft a time-bound action plan on the implementation of the Gender Charter for Sri Lanka Media.

Suggested Action Plan Framework:

• Media outlets increase the number of items in which gender issues are given prominence.
• Media outlets increase the number of items (stories, panel discussions, etc.) in which protagonists are women.
• Media outlets eliminate stereotypes/victimization of women from news reporting.
• Media outlets increase the number of women sources in news reporting.
• Media outlets increase the number of articles written by female journalists
Allocate resources and budgets for implementation of the Charter.

“Provide compulsory gender-sensitivity training for all journalists and others working in media institutions, whether employed permanently, temporarily or on a contract basis. Training should cover the provisions of this Charter.”

The external mechanisms it suggests are that the industry should develop workable, enforceable complaints procedures for gender-biased and negative reporting in the media, including provisions for public complaints, and enforceable standards on gender equality in reporting and processes for regularly measuring progress on the implementation of the Gender Charter.

The MGC can be obtained on the following link


Reported by Mahadiya Hamza

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UNESCO DG to discuss archaeological endeavours in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka: President

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s president has said that he will discuss initiatives for long-term archaeological endeavours in the Anuradhapura city with visiting UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay.

Azoulay will visit Sri Lanka from July 16-19 and take part at the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s membership of UNESCO at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre in Colombo.

She will also travel to UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the island, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

“I have invited the Director General of UNESCO to visit Sri Lanka and discuss initiatives for long-term archaeological endeavours in the Anuradhapura city. Several universities overseas have shown interest in supporting us for these activities, and we are moving forward with their collaboration,” Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

“Anuradhapura boasts a rich history spanning over a millennium, once renowned as a hub of trade and economics. Preserving and exploring this ancient city’s archaeological treasures remains a significant endeavour.”

“New archaeological efforts in the Anuradhapura district are now imperative,” Wickremesinghe said during a ceremony to inaugurate a 150-kilowatt solar power system installed by the LTL Group at the Sri Maha Bodhiya premises in Anuradhapura on Saturday (13).

Wickremesinghe pointed out that UNESCO has undertaken extensive archaeological projects in Angkor Thom in Cambodia, and Luang Prabang in Laos.

“However, we have not taken the necessary steps to implement these activities in Anuradhapura city. Therefore, I have advised both the Department of Archaeology and the Cultural Triangle to undertake these initiatives.”

These efforts are part of a comprehensive program aimed at establishing Anuradhapura as a globally renowned city, Wickremesinghe said.

While Sigiriya has gained international fame, Sri Lanka has not adequately highlighted Anuradhapura’s historical significance as a major trade and economic center in the past, the president pointed out.

“Cities like Tanjore (Thanjavur), Madurai, and Sanchipuram are often discussed, yet Anuradhapura, the fourth city, has been overlooked. Therefore, it is crucial to develop Anuradhapura city.”

As part of these initiatives, preparations are underway to establish new hotels in Anuradhapura, which will contribute significantly to its development, Wickremesinghe said. (Colombo/Jul13/2024)

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Government committed to improving living conditions in Jaffna: Sri Lanka PM

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s prime minister, who is in Jaffna “to monitor the progress” and “get a little feedback” has said the government is committed to improving living conditions of the people in the northern peninsula.

“This government is dedicated to improving the living conditions of the Jaffna Peninsula,” Dinesh Gunawardena told a Jaffna District Coordinating Committee meeting on Friday, according to a statement by his media division.

“In order to increase the living conditions, we have embarked on an increase in most of the expenditure needed by the departments, and also special allocations for rural and urban development in the local government area.”

Nationalist Gunawardena met with Tamil politicians at the Jaffna Divisional Secretariat Office and participated in the distribution of rice and egg incubators for low income families.

“A special privilege to be with you all, in order to monitor the progress made by all of you, as well as to get a little feedback where we stand today in relation to the reports given.”

Gunawardena joins a string of leading political figures who have visited the north ahead of upcoming polls.

The government was, he said, “committed to improve the services and living conditions, therefore, to provide the necessary infrastructure for developments, which means much to your area.”

The prime minister said he appreciated the efforts of farmers because “farmers are all private sector, I would say. Let us not forget, farmers are all in the private sector, either in the ownership or in the tenancy. They are private contributors to the national development of the economy.”

The poverty numbers are “fairly managed” in the country. Gunawardena said, pointing out that poverty was a key problems in any economy. “Any country, you would agree with me, the richest country, in the United States even, food stamps have been given. So all economies the world are going through difficult situations in relation to the poor.

“We have to look after the poor especially in these remote villages of the Northern Province…”

Minister Douglas Devanada, MPs M A Sumanthiran, Angajan Ramanathan, C Vigneshwaran, Dharmalingam Siddharthan, and other officials participated in the meeting. (Colombo/Jul13/2024)

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Sri Lanka leader’s presidential campaign faces dilemma over coalition: sources

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s presidential election campaign is facing a dilemma over coalition due to rivalry parties with different political ideologies, sources said.

President Wickremesinghe is yet to announce his candidacy for the presidential poll which is expected to be declared by the island nation’s Election Commission after July 17.

However, his close allies and some ministers in the current coalition government have already started a campaign to promote him assuming that President Wickremesinghe will declare his candidacy.

Three sources who spoke to EconomyNext said legislators from the main opposition center-right Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) are ready to join, but they do not want to be in coalition with the ruling Sri Lanka Podujna Peramuna (SLPP).

“SJB members who want to join Wickremesinghe are bit nervous because people wanted to oust SLPP in 2022 for their past sins including corruption and wrong economic policies,” on source who is in a member in the core campaign strategy group told EconomyNext.

Another source said majority of nationalist party SLPP are with the president, but a few key SLPP leaders do not want to back Wickremesinghe because of his market-led economic policies.

“SLPP does not want to be seen as backing Wickremesinghe’s privatization moves. So a few leaders are worried to join the campaign and have different idea of fielding their own campaign,” the second source who is indirectly involved with facilitating meeting between Wickremesinghe and legislators said.

The SJB is leaned towards somewhat liberal economic policies and has ensured to treat all ethnic people equally, while SLPP has backed a state-controlled economy and has given priority for ethnic majority Sinhala Buddhists.


There is no formal and transparent survey to assess the popularity of possible presidential candidates.

However, an informal survey shows Opposition and SJB leader Sajith Premadasa is leading followed by Marxists Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna leader Anura Kumara Dissanayaka.

The same survey has shown a gradual gain for Wickremesinghe in the last three months.

“He is confident of winning, but he has to win most of the undecided voters for that,” a third source, who is in the campaign planning team, said.

“Still things are very fluid. Majority of the people still don’t understand the benefits of economic recovery and the country getting out of the debt default under the current president. We will have a clear picture by end of next month.”

Wickremesinghe was elected as the president in July 2022 by the parliament after his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country in fear of his life amid mass protests and outside the presidential palace.

Wickremesinghe has implemented some tough economic reforms including raising taxes, imposing new taxes, freezing recruitments to state-owned companies, and privatizing loss making government-owned entities in line with commitments agreed with the IMF.


Those reforms have made him unpopulour mainly among government employees and lower income groups.

He has raised the salaries of government employees from April this year while has introduced a new transfer payment called Aswesuma for lower income and vulnerable groups.

Sri Lanka faced an unprecedented economic crisis with a sovereign debt default in 2022. But it has recovered faster than expected under Wickremesinghe administration with difficult and unpopulour reforms.

People protested against the SLPP-led government in 2022 and ousted then leader Gotabaya Rajapaksa and all his relatives from the key ministerial positions for their alleged involvement in corruption and wrong economic policies.

The SLPP which had more than two-third majority in the parliament after 2020 general election, is worried about its perception and electoral performance after the economic crisis.

Analysts say Wickremesinghe has a greater chance to win if he join with SJB than SLPP because of the SLPP’s negative perception.

Sources, however, said they are in discussions with both SLPP and SJB legislators to agree on a common programme for Wickremesinghe’s presidency.

Presidential election is likely to be held either in October first week or second week, Election Commission officials say.

Wickremesinghe lost the parliamentary election in 2020, but entered the parliament in 2021 using the solo seat his party won through the national list.  (Colombo/July 13/2024)

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