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Arrangements are being made to provide breakfast for all pre-school children

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State Minister for Women and Child Affairs Mrs. Geeta Kumarasinghe, said that the commencement of a program to provide a complete morning meal for all preschool children in the island this year.

Additionally, she highlighted that the proposed Gender Equality Bill aims to affirm and protect gender equality rights.

The State Minister made these remarks during the press conference held at the Presidential Media Centre (PMC) today (11) under the theme Collective path to a stable country’.

State Minister Geeta Kumarasinghe further commented:

Ensuring a nutritious breakfast for 120,000 pre-school children posed a significant challenge. To address this, a request has been submitted to President Ranil Wickremesinghe to increase the allocated amount from Rs. 60 to Rs. 100 per child. Given the high prevalence of malnutrition among children in Sri Lanka, the focus is on providing a protein-rich meal.

As a response, measures are underway this year to provide a full morning meal for all pre-school children across the island. The initiative aims to encompass all Regional Secretariats, covering approximately 120,000 non-estate and 35,000 estate pre-school children, totalling 155,000 beneficiaries.

Furthermore, plans are underway to distribute nutrition pack to pregnant mothers. The initiative aims to provide 220,214 pregnant mothers with nutrition pack for duration of 10 months, each valued at Rs. 4,500 per month.

Additionally, there is a plan to introduce a training program for pre-school teachers. Currently, there are 18,333 pre-school teachers registered under the National Secretariat for Early Childhood Development, representing every district in Sri Lanka. While a monthly payment of Rs 2500 is provided to enhance the quality of the pre-school sector and evaluate the work of pre-school teachers, it is recognized that this amount falls short for their livelihoods. Therefore, there is a proposal to further increase this payment.

Furthermore, The Ministry has outlined plans to propose and enact three new bills aimed at safeguarding the rights of children and women. Specifically, efforts are underway to solidify gender equality rights through the Gender Equality Bill. This initiative includes the establishment of a Gender Equality Council, encompassing representation for the LGBTIQ community. Within this council, endeavours are on-going to hire Gender Focal Point officers for various government institutions.

Additionally, there are plans to revise the minimum age limit of children left behind when women go abroad for work from 2 years to the previous limit of 5 years. Steps have been initiated to collect data at the Divisional Secretariat level to ascertain the number of mothers with children under 5 years who have migrated abroad.

To enhance the safety of women in public passenger transport services, measures are being taken to inform all Provincial Governors, the Minister of Transport, the National Transport Commission, and the Provincial Road Passenger Transport Authority. The objective is to install CCTV cameras in all passenger transport service buses, aiming to reduce incidents of violence against women.

Moreover, it is anticipated that the installation of cameras in public passenger transport services will contribute to reducing violence against women. As a result, our emphasis has been on submitting a proposal to the relevant authorities to make the installation of cameras a mandatory license condition for passenger transport service buses in their annual licensing process.

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