Women's issues discussed in Jaffna gathering

[TamilNet, Friday, 03 October 2003, 17:55 GMT]
More than 1500 representatives of women’s organizations in Jaffna gathered at the Veerasingham hall in Jaffna town Thursday at 9 a.m., and critically discussed the problems confronting women, in particular, the lack of awareness of social issues among women in villages and barriers to women's development in the spheres of education and economics, sources said.

The Government Agent for Jaffna district, Mr. S. Pathmanathan, and Rev. Fr. Damien, an expert in psychology, inaugurated the event.

The head of the women’s political wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Ms. Kalaivizhi, hoisted the Tamil Eelam national flag.

Mrs. Rasenthiram Rasamalar, mother of LTTE martyr, Lt. Kaviyaventhan, lit the flame of sacrifice in front of the photograph of Lt. Malathy, and Mr. Solomon Cyril, the secretary of the National Resurgence Movement, garlanded it.

Mrs. Vethavalli of the Jaffna district women’s association gave the presiding address. She said she was happy to see so many women gathered at the event and that she hoped the event would find solutions to the problems confronting women in the district.

Ms. Kirithika gave the welcome speech.

Mrs. Pathiniamma Thillainayagam Paul, the additional government agent for Jaffna, in her inaugural address said, "In ancient times and during the Sangam period, women worked independently and distinguished themselves in their work, as equal to men. But in the current era, such achievements are not common among women. We should analyze why this happened.

Sangamam Gathering
Women Organizations' Gathering in Jaffna on 02 October 2003

“No matter how educated and how many degrees a woman has, women are harassed, beaten or treated with disrespect. Women are not allowed to reach beyond a ceiling. Though treated as equal to men at the wedding stage, women are later oppressed. It is not only some men who are the enemies of women. Some women are also enemies of women.

“Great men like Barathiyar [the late Tamil poet Subramania Bharathy] have said women should live with courage. If we women join together, we will definitely gain strength and we can accomplish a lot in our society.”

Father Damien spoke on the development of women’s abilities and leadership skills. “The hidden potential for leadership and other skills among women should be brought out. ‘Can’t do’ attitude and inferiority complex should be removed and self-confidence should be created,” he said.

Sangamam Gathering
Women Organizations' Gathering in Jaffna on 02 October 2003

Ms. Kalaivizhi in her speech said that for events like this gathering, the LTTE’s women wing would definitely give its full cooperation. “The liberation struggle has provided the challenge for women to develop their abilities. Women should develop their leadership and managerial abilities, and excel in every field. Women should break free from unjustified and unnecessary social restrictions and taboos. Our national leader has transformed us into fighters who are equal to men in the battlefield. He has proved that women can do anything. This transformation should occur among all women of Tamil Eelam.”

Mr.C. Ilamparithy, the political head of the LTTE in Jaffna, said in his guest speech that when there is national liberation, there will also be women’s liberation, and events like the women’s gathering should contribute to national liberation. “There are many more women than men affected by the war in the Jaffna district. Women should develop their personality, skills and self-confidence. Only then women’s problems will be solved and oppression could be eliminated."

Sangamam Gathering
Women Organizations' Gathering in Jaffna on 02 October 2003

Mrs. Rathithevy Sothilingam, Principal of a Jaffna school, spoke on the economic aspects that impede development of women. Dr. (Mrs.) Manonmany Shanmugathas, spoke on the social structures that impede women’s development. Mrs. Meera Arulnesan, the deputy director of education for the Jaffna district, spoke on learning and women’s development

Following lunch break, a female student of Jaffna University spoke on the barriers to women’s development caused by the prevailing educational system and how it could be changed to address women’s problems. Women from the University staged a theatre program.

Ms. Thamlini, the head of the women’s political wing of the LTTE gave her speech as the special guest. In her speech she said, “The way people in our society treat men and women unequally should be changed and everyone should be treated equally. The discrimination starts at birth. Society does not use women’s abilities, skills and leadership appropriately. They all think women are too soft to take on responsibilities. But our national leader has developed women differently—courageous women with self-confidence and skill. He proved women could do anything.

“Do not stop with just listening to opinions. Break all mental barriers that hold you back. Change from average women into women who strive for the liberation and betterment of society and the nation.”

Following Ms. Thamilini’s speech, the gathering adopted several resolutions as follows:

1. Bringing together women of all villages and creating awareness among them--To impart confidence among women to solve social problems. To find solutions through the law and through the power of organization. To meet every month to discuss progress of action plan.To nip in the bud any sexual harassment problems and inappropriate sexual behavior among children.

2. Education related problems.--To teach the facts of human sexuality at schools. To teach discipline and good behavior to all, without discriminating again men and women. To introduce vocational education for women

3.Economic problems--To act through trade unions for women’s problems at work places. To distribute work among more workers. To limit the amount of time women are compelled to work. To equalize wages and salaries among men and women. To solve dowry-related problems.

Depression among women is common because of the dowry issue. When the dowry system is eliminated, it will reduce the number with depression and improve the mental health of the people.

4.University action --To encourage the women’s organizations at the University of Jaffna to conduct research into social problems and impart knowledge.

The event concluded at 5 p.m.

Sangamam Gathering
Women Organizations' Gathering in Jaffna on 02 October 2003

Sangamam Gathering
Women Organizations' Gathering in Jaffna on 02 October 2003


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