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Sunday December 3rd, 2023

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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UAE investors express interest in Sri Lanka’s energy, tourism, ports, real estate: Ali Sabry

ECONOMYNEXT – A group of investors based in the United Arab Emirates have expressed their interest in renewable energy, tourism, ports, and real estates, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry told Economy Next.

A Sri Lankan delegation led by President Ranil Wickremesinghe is in Dubai to take part in the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28).

Sabry said a group of large investors met the President on Friday and discussed possible opportunities in Sri Lanka.

“We met big investors here particularly on renewable energy, tourism, port development and also infrastructure development and real estate. That’s where they are doing very well,” Foreign Minister told Economy Next.

“Our embassy will organize a higher-level business delegation to visit Sri Lanka to look at the available opportunities.”

“There is a lot of traction and interest in Sri Lanka.”

Sri Lanka has been exploring to attract investors to crisis hit Sri Lanka which declared bankruptcy in April last year with sovereign debt default.

Since then, most investors have taken a step back from investing in the island nation due to its inability to serve debts and uncertainty over such investments.

Several government officials said investors may start pouring dollars into Sri Lanka very carefully after they see some certainty of debt repayments. (Dubai/Dec 3/2023)

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Sri Lanka to push for green initiative investment “after OCC finalizing” debt deals – President

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will push for investment into green initiatives globally after the Official Creditor Committee (OCC) finalizing on the island nation’s debt restructuring, President Ranil Wickremesinghe told Economy Next at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28).

President Wickremesinghe along with local and global advisors has inaugurated three ambitious projects to convert climate change-led disaster funding, which is mostly seen as donations, into viable commercial enterprises involving private sector investments.

The idea is to rally all the global nations in the Tropical Belt threatened by disasters related to climate change and bargain collectively with advanced economies which emit more greenhouse gases into the environment resulting in global warming for more green initiatives like renewable energy projects.

Wickremesinghe initiated a Climate Justice Forum (CJF), Tropical Belt Initiative (TBI), and called on the world to help establish the International Climate Change University in Sri Lanka.

His moves have been welcomed by global leaders, though analysts said an initiative like TBI is a “bold and imaginary” step.

“This is the first step. We have now put forward the proposal,” Wickremesinghe told Economy Next on Sunday on the sideline of the COP28 in Dubai’s EXPO 2020.

“There is an interest. We have to wait for OCC finalizing (debt restructuring) before pushing for investments.”


Global investors are hesitant to invest in Sri Lanka due to its bankruptcy and sovereign debt default.

Sri Lanka is still recovering from an unprecedented economic crisis which has compelled the island nation to declare bankruptcy with sovereign debt default.

President Wickremesinhe during a forum on Saturday said his initiatives would help government in advanced countries not to use tax money of its own people for climate related disasters in other countries and instead, private sector investors could help by investing in renewable energy initiatives.

President Wickremesinghe’s government has been in the process of implementing some tough policies it committed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to stabilize the country and ensure sustainability in its borrowing.

Sri Lanka is yet to finalize the debt restructuring fully as it still has to negotiate on repayment schedule of commercial and sovereign bond borrowing.

The OCC and Sri Lanka had agreed on the main parameters of a debt treatment consistent with those of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement between Sri Lanka and the IMF.

The members of the Paris Club which are part of the Official Creditor Committee are representatives of countries with eligible claims on Sri Lanka: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States of America.

The OCC has said it was expecting other bilateral creditors to consent to sharing, in a transparent manner, the information necessary for the OCC to evaluate comparability of treatment regarding their own bilateral agreement.

The OCC also has said it expects that the Sri Lankan authorities will continue to engage with their private creditors to find as soon as possible an agreement on terms at least as favourable as the terms offered by the OCC. (DUBAI/Dec 3/2023)

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Sri Lanka alcohol regulations may be spurring moonshine: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s alcohol regulations may be reducing access to legal products and driving illegal moonshine sector, State Minister for Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said amid plans to change opening times of retail outlets.

Sri Lanka is currently discussing changing the opening times of bars (retail alcohol outlets), he said.

Sri Lanka’s excise laws may be contributing to the growth of illegal products, Minister Siyambalapitiya was quoted as saying at the annual meeting of Sri Lanka’s excise officers.

Over 20 years legal alcohol sales have grown 50 percent but illegal products are estimated to have grown 500 percent, he said.

It is not clear where the 500 percent estimate came from.

In Kandy there was a bar for every 6,000 persons but in Mullativu there was one for only 990,000 persons and people had to travel 80 kilometres to get to a legal outlet, Minister Siyambalapitiya had said.

However Sri Lanka has a widespread moonshine or ‘kasippu’ industry driven by high taxes on legal products.

The widely used ‘gal’ or special arrack is now around 3,500 rupees and may go up further with a hike in value added tax. About 2000 rupees of the sale price is taxes.

After a currency collapse and tax hikes legal alcohol sales have fallen, leading to local sugar companies burying ethanol, according to statements made in parliament.

An uneven distribution of bars may also be driving people towards alcohol.

Alcohol sales is controlled on the grounds that it is an addictive product which can lead to poverty, ill-health, bad behaviour and criminal activities, though advocates of high taxes ignore the poverty angle.

High taxes are promoted by temperance movements some of whom have called for outright prohibition in the last century.

Temperance movements spread among evangelical groups in the West and were also embraced by nationalists/moralists and independence movements in colonial authorities.

Prohibition in the US however led to more criminal activity as an organized crime took to bootlegging. (Colombo/Dec03/2023)

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