“Promoting the empowerment of women is a top priority for the UN both globally and in Sri Lanka. While Sri Lanka has performed relatively well in terms of gender equality in the education and health sectors, challenges remain in other areas. With this support from Norway, the UN team in Sri Lanka is hoping to work closely with our national partners to address issues linked to gender based violence and early marriage whilst also exploring more widely how the UN can best support the Government to fully implement laws, policies and programmes that look to ensure women’s rights,” Subinay Nandy, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Sri Lanka, said.The Integrating Gender Support to the UN Country Team project consists of three components and is expected to contribute to an increased awareness of GBV issues in the Sri Lankan context by raising awareness of the consequence of early marriage, understanding GBV from the perspective of men and identifying potential initiatives which could be supported in the long term by the UN Country Team. Norway’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Grete Løchen, said that Norway strongly believes in the empowerment of women as one of the most important factors for sustainable development.“By strengthening the UN’s capacity to address gender issues, we would like to contribute to the implementation of Sri Lanka’s policies and programmes in order to enhance women’s rights and gender equality, including gender based violence and early marriage”. Gender parity in life expectancy, access to education and literacy rates are all indicators of which Sri Lanka can be proud, especially given their comparability to indicators of other developed countries. These achievements, however, do not reveal how inherently patriarchal practices, at both micro and macro levels, continue to negatively impact the lives of women and girls in Sri Lanka. The Norwegian Embassy in Colombo today signed an agreement with the UN country office through which the UN team in Sri Lanka is hoping to work closely with its national partners in Sri Lanka to address issues linked to gender based violence.The UN office in Colombo said that Sri Lanka boasts of strong development indicators and is often hailed as a model in the South Asian context when it comes to its achievements on gender equality. Addressing gender issues and ensuring gender equality remains an integral aspect of development as emphasised in goal three of the Millennium Development Goals. Ensuring gender equality also links to Sri Lanka’s commitment, as a State Party, to the CEDAW treaty.