October 29, 2015
U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Catherine Russell departed Sri Lanka today after her two-day visit to underscore the strong U.S. commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment in Sri Lanka. In meetings with senior government officials, civil society activists, religious leaders, entrepreneurs, and journalists in Colombo and Jaffna, she emphasized the important roles women play in reconciliation, building the economy, and addressing gender-based violence.
“The United States believes it’s in everyone’s best interest to advance gender equality,” said Ambassador Russell. “When women do better, communities, businesses, and countries do better as well.”
Ambassador Russell highlighted existing U.S. assistance to war widows and women-headed households, from job training and micro-enterprise loans to reconciliation efforts and counseling programs. She also met with Sri Lankan partners providing safe houses and legal assistance to victims of gender violence.
“Women in the North and East affected by the conflict can’t be left behind,” stressed Ambassador Russell. “It is important for these women to know that both the United States and Sri Lanka haven’t forgotten them.”
Ambassador Russell was joined by U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap in meetings with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs Chandrani Bandara, Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran of the Northern Provincial Council and Northern Governor H.M.G.S. Palihakkara.
“We are proud of our partnerships with local civil society to advocate for gender equality and the empowerment of women across the country, from Jaffna to Galle, Anuradhapura to Batticaloa,” added Ambassador Keshap.