3. Decent Society
Social policy deals with the way our society is organised, who gets what benefits and who is left to fend for themselves. Those whom society has failed, and often discriminated against have been defined as the problem. Thus, opportunities for education, healthcare and social mobility have been constantly under attack. In contrast, good social policy is about social arrangements for everyday life that affect everyone in all areas of personal and social life contributing to the well-being of citizens.
Our social policy will focus on key social issues such as welfare, health care, education, labour market and child protection. It will serve to ensure that every Sri Lankan will be able to have a decent standard of living. We consider our country should be a nation state that prioritises social well-being.
We strongly believe that Sri Lanka is a multi-faith, multi-ethnic and multicultural society.
We consider diversity in the Sri Lankan society is not a liability, but an asset that we can capitalize on positively. For Sri Lanka to thrive economically, socially and culturally there should be intercourse and empathy between all different groups. It will be disastrous for Sri Lankans to be ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones or inhabitants of different planets.
We will set up a legislative framework for a rule-based society treating all Sri Lankans with dignity and respect, while recognising the issues specific to all different groups of Sri Lankans. We will ensure that all citizens enjoy freedom of religion and freedom from religion.
We will recognise Buddhism as the religion of the majority of population. However, the government operations will be completely independent of any religious practice. We believe religious practice is an individual private matter and any religious activity should not be a hindrance to public life at large.
We see gender as a socio-cultural construct built around the differentiation among the two biological sexes. Therefore, gender status is not something innate but socially developed. We will make gender equality the central issue to conditions of access (legal equality) to rewards, resources and opportunities, and to obtain concrete results in terms of gender equality (actual equality).
As a result, our approach will differ from liberal feminist campaigns, which are limited to demanding more or equal opportunities for advancement in employment, education and health through the existing governance framework.
We are committed to a Sri Lanka free of violence against women and their children. We acknowledge the vast damage such violence inflicts on individuals, communities, institutions and the society. We believe gender inequality is the core of this problem and also that the solution lies at the heart of it. An island wide cultural and systematic change that safeguards women’s economic, social and political rights and the more equal distribution of power and resources between men and women would lead to marked reduction in this violence.
This will fall in line with the application of the resolutions from the world conference on women held in Beijing in September 1995 and integration of the gender mainstreaming perspective into holistic national policy analysis, formulation, implementation and monitoring.
We believe it is important to set up an independent Sri Lanka Media Authority (SLMA). It will be the responsibility of this body to ensure radio and television broadcasting, print and other electronic media provide a balanced service to all Sri Lankans without fear or favour, operating within the regulatory framework. We also believe there should be public broadcasting service financed and controlled by the public for the public. It should be neither commercial nor state-owned, free from political interference and pressure from commercial forces.