Gender inequality in Sri Lanka

The term ‘gender’ can be defined as “non-biological, culturally and socially produced distinction between men and women.” It is basically a socio-cultural term which contains in itself the socially qualified roles, attributes and behaviours given to a man and a woman from a society. The identification of sex is based on chromosomal patterns and the genital structure which signifies the differences between men and women. However, this does not mean it gives men a dominant figure and women a subordinate structure.

In most of the societies; specifically in developing countries women are subjected to various forms of discrimination. Everywhere in the world, there is still considerable differences in terms of living conditions and social mobility opportunities between men and women due to unequal factors. The widely-known set of conceptions that are stereotypically attributed to women are passed on from generation to generation. As a result, they have been engraved in the lives of the people termed as, “social norms” which have not been questioned.

When considering the Sri Lankan context, traditional women have less social, economic, political and domestic in comparison to men. Also, women and girls have become more vulnerable to rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and disparities in property rights… etc. Female infanticide and sex selective abortions are still been practiced in countries like India, so they are treated discriminatively even before their birth. Apart from that discrimination has become obvious in political leadership and decision-making positions and in economic top management in the South Asian region.

Various religions, cultures and patriarchal attitudes in South Asian region act as a as criteria in determining gender roles. Notions of, marriage and motherhood all tend to pressure girls in to these roles which can exclude other possibilities in their lives which are available to men. For an example things, such as education and employment opportunities.

Even though women and their labour force representation has been increased dramatically over the recent decades, a Pattern of gender inequality on the trade sector still seems to continue.

When considering the Sri Lankan National Human Development Report, it mentions that the  young women participation in the labour market is less than half that of young men. In 2011, the overall unemployment rate for females at 6.8% is twice that of the male unemployment rate (2.7%) (Annual Report Central Bank of Sri Lanka-2011)

On the other hand, if we move on to the theme “gender and Politics in Sri Lanka,” we see in 1931 Sri Lanka became one of the first countries in South Asia to give women the right to vote. Yet still at present we see that the female participation in Parliament is small in number. Alas, Sri Lanka remains as the only country without any special measures to facilitate female representation in local authorities. In comparison, Bangladesh, holds representation of 25% of seats that are reserved for women in Union Councils (1996 legislation); in India not less than 33% of seats are reserved for women and other marginalized groups in all panchayats or local bodies (1992 Constitutional Amendment).

In terms of female property rights Sri Lanka, we see a equality violation of law when considering the, matrimonial property rights under general law and discriminative laws under the Thesavalamai law. There is no uniform law regarding the separation of matrimonial property in the aftermath of divorce under the general law which give a wide discretion to the court. However, there are international and national instruments which focus on safeguarding women and accommodating their rights. International legal entrenchment to female rights has been provided by the CEDAW (Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women).

Constitution as a foundation document can play an instrumental role in bringing gender equality. The Article 12(1) and 12(2) of the constitution of Sri Lanka emphasises that All persons are equal before the law and are entitled to the equal protection of the law and no citizen shall be discriminated against interms of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth or any one of such grounds. This Article has been introduced in order to encourage the introduction of laws and policies that seek to improve the existing status of women and to provide a legal recognition for their rights.

Focusing on the national legislature in Sri Lanka ‘The domestic violence Act 2005’ was enacted in order to safeguard the rights of women in domestic circumstances and protect her from domestic violence. The ‘Employment of women, young persons and children ordinance 1923 and the ‘Factories ordinance’ which prohibits the employment of women in night work could be cited as regulatory controls in workplaces which provide special protection to women in their work places.

Modern principles such as ‘Concept of Liberal feminism or moderate feminism’ essentially seeks opportunities for female advancement in the existent society through institutional changes in education and the workplace which amounts to diminish the conventional attitude towards women in the society. This seeks equal opportunities within the system and work towards equal opportunities in ‘employment’, ‘education’, and ‘health’. The ‘substantive equality in terms of women’s experience would be more productive rather than a comparison women’s status with male standard. This idea of substantive equality is the foundation of CEDAW convention.

Even though the law has been enacted as to fill these disparities and to safeguard the rights of women, traditional women have much less social, economic, political and domestic power than men. Women are facing several problems due to unequal factors of political participation, labour force participation and decision-making process.  In order to overcome this gender inequality the conventional attitude towards women should be changed in a positive manner. States must make their own contribution to fashioning the concepts of liberal feminism and substantive equality, so that it provides a meaningful foundation for achieving gender justice and equality for women.

 

Hashintha Vidanapathirana

Who do you want to be an intelligent madcap or a sane happy man?

At present, how would you define yourself? As a: Bookworm that run behind certificates? Or as a bookworm who has a practical sense of life? Which category do you belong to? Or don’t you belong in any?

Let me help you sort it out.

Half a percent of the existing generation doesn’t even know the term, “bookworm.” Yet during the past times everyone use to read a book during their leisure hours. Yet now, the scenario has changed. Technology has emerged in to our lives and we rarely go in to a library or a book store. Information, books are just finger tips away. No one has the interest to read and study a book, yet they get help from the internet viewers and online editors who give them the summaries and analyses of the texts, they need to study. Therefore, the practicality of life and the novels, stories that help to build one’s life with information is far gone from the present-day lifestyles. People have become knowledgeable robotics who run from one interview to another with a bundle of certificates.

If I am wrong, ask from yourself. Do you really remember what contains in those certificates? Do you remember the core of your studies? Did they teach you the practical life skills that will carry you to the next stage of your interviews? Do you know how to deal with people and work in a team? Or is it basically the texts, certificates you have?  

Today certificates and degrees have become the aims of life. It is not wrong. But your qualification should contain a meaning. You should have a sense of what you are studying. Yet, most of us do a degree, graduate and we forget whatever we did and studied. This happens when one becomes an internet worm, as I would call it today. As a result, one’s life becomes a risk. You only know what you are asked. You never how to elaborate something beyond the given question. If you are asked to relate a text to your own life, you will look up and down thinking how the internet would answer it.

Yet the past generations saw life beyond a book. They read a book, a magazine or a newspaper till the end. They discussed facts and the story with their colleagues, yet they never took the first opinion from them. The first opinion always held within them. So, no matter what state and context it was, they knew how to remember it, and attribute it to their own selves. But today, we are lost in between our busy lifestyles and technology.

We tend to go on social media, run through it up and down and spend are free time with it. We rarely go to a library, associate people, join a society talk with people and watch a movie in groups. Therefore basically, as a result, life, has become all about, “you and the internet.” Our present generations have become dependents of the present-day technology. You eat with it, drink with it, live with it and it feeds you information and you go earn your certificates.

Yet the question is, does this individual life helps you climb the ladder of success? Or does it help you, apply and apply for jobs forever?

Therefore, if you want a meaningful life, that adds color to your certificates, you should earn it, by yourself. Try to take some time off the internet, television and your caged room. Step in to life, read a book, go to a library, meet friends, join a society, talk with an audience, check yourself with others, let your own self compete. Isolation never brings a winning.

Once you get in to a life with people, books that you read with passion and societies you put your strength in to, you learn life and you add value to your educational qualifications.

Cause at present when competing with the future brains, being an internet worm or a book worm, will be like applying for a job that never existed. So, if you want to succeed the present-day life style with technology and upcoming brains, you’ve got to mingle with the society. You’ve got to identify the weaknesses within you and the others. You need to learn from them and you need to give the knowledge you have. Sharing pictures through the internet won’t do. You need to share your life and knowledge and be a person with acquaintance, experience and intelligence. To be one, you need to step out from your own circle, and in to the society, which is vast and growing. And it is a matter of time until this society waits for you. If you do not grab your chances within the given time, you’ll lose this race as an intelligent-madcap. Therefore, being sane and succeeding at the same time takes time and effort.   Therefore, let yourself out and add color to your life.

– Gayathri Kodikara

Youth, Peace and Security

Around the world many young people are victims of cultural, direct, and structural violence and have become carriers of that same so called violence or perpetration. There is a strong tendency among politicians and researchers to see youth as a problem that is yet to be solved. However, many youth are peaceful and peace-builders. Equally affected by various forms of violence, they decide to act constructively towards building a culture of peace. Youth are underestimated as positive agents of change and key actors in peace-building, both by policy-makers and academics.

The United Nations Security Council adopted unanimously, on 9 December 2015, a ground-breaking resolution on Youth, Peace and Security which recognizes; “young people who play an important and positive role in the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security”.

As part of a series of national consultations, The International Youth Alliance for Peace organized a consultation on Youth, Peace and Security in Batticaloa , Sri Lanka on the 27th & 28th of May 2017 in partnership with World Vision Lanka &the Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) network , supported by British Council Sri Lanka Active Citizens Programme, which is part of the global effort to bolster action on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 that calls for a greater role for young people in strengthening peace and security to help reshape the role of youth in peace building in communities, countries, across the regions and worldwide for safer tomorrow.

The consultations will feed into a global progress study on the positive contribution of young people in peace building. This will be presented to the UN Secretary General and the Member States of the United Nations at the end of 2017. Youth selected from 18-29 years  from various organizations were invited   to attend the two days consultations. These consultations comprised of peer to peer discussions and experience sharing and many more.

International Youth Alliance for Peace is a youth-led organization that was founded to bring together a network of youth  to work together towards Sustainable Social Development.

We at IYAP hope to inspire youth-led social movements in the peace building arena under the banner of Resolution 2250. “We need to do more to raise the voices and shine the spotlights on young people who are really advocating in this space.” – Thirukumar Premakumar – President – IYAP

IYAP along with its partners and district committees  organizes such initiatives in other districts as well. If you want to join us  email us on iyapofficial@gmail.com or follow us on www.facebook.com/IYAP.org or call us on 0775446737(saranya)for more details.

Empowering communities through citizenship training for future leaders

Active Citizens is a global programme conducted by the British Council. The ethos behind this programme is ‘Globally connected, locally engaged’ and so far it has created 130,000 Active Citizens in 40 countries in Africa ,Asia, Europe etc. In South Asia , Active Citizens works through civil society organisations, government’s youth development organisations and universities to engage local volunteers and deepen trust and understanding within and between communities.  The vision of Active Citizens is ‘A world where people are empowered to engage peacefully and effectively with other cultures in the sustainable development in their community.’

The Active Citizens five day residential workshop held from 20 to 25 of March 2017 in Kundasale was a collaboration between British Council and their delivery partner, International Youth Alliance For Peace (IYAP) a local youth led volunteer not-for profit organisation. There were more than 30 participants representing Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities from all over the country. The programme develops Active Citizens who are potential change agents in their community. Through this workshop young people acquire a wide range of skills in leadership, communication, advocacy, citizenship, social responsibility, volunteering, fundraising, partnerships, and network building skills which contribute to community-led social development through Social Action Project delivery.

During the workshop, the participants were taken on a learning journey, referred to as the ‘the river’, which starts by building self-awareness and confidence and culminates in the planning and delivery of social action.

From building relationships with others; learning how to use dialogue as a tool for building empathy, trust and understanding through to practical and interactive sessions between Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim participants like Forum theatre. ‘Hold your assumptions lightly, not tightly’ was one of the most popular sessions which engaged the participants in activities regarding assumptions and debates whether assumptions are good or bad.

One of the main topics of the workshop was improving and understanding ‘communities’. What is a community? What are different communities around you? How communities can be empowered? Practical activities such as ‘the power walk’ addressed: What is power? How the centre of power can be influenced?

The workshop also focused on the biggest challenge in the journey of an Active Citizen; to change and empower their communities; developing an understanding of how the community ‘works’; learning how to identify stakeholders and interventions for addressing community issues and improving the motivation to act.

A cultural show was also organised by the participants with the help of the facilitators. They did combined events proving that language barrier is not a problem if you are willing to challenge something and proving that his workshop actually did make an impact on them. Participants used this event to showcase their diverse culture through song, dance and drama. It was undoubtedly one of the most successful sessions of the workshop.

Darshatha Gamage, a participant, representing the University of Kelaniya Rotaract club shared his views on this workshop “The Active Citizens workshop provided the opportunity for me to look at the things we know of in a different way. It also opened up the opportunity to network with young people who are engaged in impactful social action projects and to share experiences with each other.”

‘I feel empowered as a female and a social worker to deliver social action using my improved social responsibility and leadership skills’ stated Letchumanan Kokilavani volunteer representative from Sarvodaya Fusion, Hatton, Nuwara Eliya.

A total of 10 social action projects were planned and will be conducted by the participants all over the country. While all the projects have a cross-cutting theme of women and girls empowerment, reconciliation and peaceful co-existence is the main theme for their projects.

These Active Citizens are now ready to address issues in their communities, neighborhoods, empower the grass root level communities, bringing together people from different backgrounds including district councils, young people, community and religious leaders working towards creating a sustainable future for themselves and each other.

Waste Management: Sri Lanka’s struggle for a sustainable future

Sri Lanka’s search for sustainable methods for waste management and disposal

A nation consistently missing the mark on prevention vs. cure

Garbage: Taking Center Stage

Throughout the years Sri Lanka’s waste management process has been a topic that was overshadowed by war, crime, human rights movements, education and politics.

However, as tragedy strikes in Meethotamulla, leaving many lives at a lost and many more displaced, the topic of proper waste management again resurfaces, taking center stage. This brings to light a larger predicament that Sri Lanka is facing a major problem regarding the sustainable and long-term solution(s) for proper waste disposal. With this, citizens of Sri Lanka has come together using active engagement to urge local councils and governments to find a preventative solution, as opposed to a cure, to ensure the events at Meethotamulla would never reoccur.

 

Blame Game

Yet the question is whether Sri Lanka still headed toward a destructive waste management system, even with the Central Environmental Authority’s (CEA) provision of financial and technical support to implement recycling programmes to over 125 local authorities island-wide.

Scrutinisation of the waste management process has brought to light queries regarding, firstly local council and the government’s ability to implement and provide the public with adequate information toward sustainable waste management and secondly, local households’ lax attitude toward cooperation in segregated waste collection, integral for recycling.

This disparity in garbage collection and separation has led in to many landfills which are becoming far too full and far too fast. Many questions and complaints have been raised in areas such as Karadiyana, Piliyandala as well as in the Ella Pradeshasaba.

With local councils frantically trying to promote and implement the seven [07] steps of waste management; managing waste at the place of origin; movement of waste from the place of origin; cleaning of public spaces; halting the use of open garbage bins; streamlining transportation of waste; use of waste as a resource; and streamlining dumping sites., Sri Lanka is in desperate need of a revamp to waste management strategy.

 

Recycling Revolution

The need for sophisticated and innovative waste management systems has never been higher in Sri Lanka, given the devastating accident, that was not unforeseen by many.

As Sri Lanka continues to work within a culture of ‘cure, instead of prevention’, many European countries such as Sweden, Austria, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium have paved their way in waste management solutions. Many entrepreneurs have acknowledged that waste management can be converted into a viable business opportunity. Although, the initial investment does come at a higher cost – but does this mean Sri Lanka should be penny-wise and pound foolish when regarding sustainable waste management methods?

Imagine a country, where  landfill waste is less than 5%, with well-developed recycling systems, sufficient treatment capacity, and a well performance with biodegradable waste. Resulting in 100% of household waste being recycled into new products, raw materials, gas or even heat. Now imagine that recycling was turned into a profit making industry where waste was imported.

A true recycling revolution. Sweden, in 2015 had already reached this revolution.

Across Sweden, 950,000 homes are heated by trash; this lowly resource also provides electricity for 260,000 homes across the country, according to statistics from Avfall Sverige, Sweden’s national waste-management association.

In recent years over 100,000 tons of foreign garbage, mostly from Britain was brought in for recycling to power, in addition to the 435,000 tons supplied by Swedish municipalities.

While recycling is not the sole indicator of a sophisticated and well-functioning waste management system, it is certainly a key component.

Germany had approximately 50,000 landfills; and by 2014, this had reduced to only 300, of which neither accepted nor unsorted garbage. In order to get to this point, in 2005, Germany banned traditional garbage dumps transforming many into incinerators, biological and mechanical waste processing factories and 800 sites were converted began producing compost from organic waste. By 2022, they also aim to have decommissioned their remaining landfills and implement plans to utilize all the waste that is created and the energy produced by it.

The German business institute estimates that they can save up to €3.7 billion a year from recycling and the energy produced from their waste. Waste processing systems already save them 20% of the cost of metals and 3% of the cost of energy imports.

Austria, although a small country, now utilize a new high-tech method of waste management which uses bioengineered fungal enzymes for the natural recycling of PET, without the production of any new by-products, with less new production materials having to be made using petroleum and 100% of the material recycled can be used.

Belgium is also a top performer in waste management, it possesses the best waste diversion rate in Europe: 75% of their waste is reused, recycled or composted; all helping to reduce overall waste generation.

 

Sri Lanka’s quick-fix

Recent rumors have surfaced, with several government sources having confirmed that Puttalam is being considered to be used as a landfill in order to reduce the tension on many of Sri Lanka’s current landfills. With waste planned to be carried along the railway lines and moved to Puttalam, one begs the question, is this a quick-fix or just poor planning?

Surely, a little bit of thought and planning for a better future shouldn’t be made so lightly.

Should Sri Lankan councils and governments look to our European peers and begin on a path to the Recycling Revolution, without the excessive reliance on landfills?

Img sources:

http://www.chemwaste.co.nz/index.php?page=sustainability

http://www.planetaid.org/blog/global-recycling-rates

sustainability-diagramGlobal_Recycling_Rates_2

Empowering communities through citizenship training for future leaders

Active Citizens is a global programme conducted by the British Council. The ethos behind this programme is ‘Globally connected, locally engaged’ and so far it has created 130,000 Active Citizens in 40 countries in Africa ,Asia, Europe etc. In South Asia , Active Citizens works through civil society organisations, government’s youth development organisations and universities to engage local volunteers and deepen trust and understanding within and between communities.  The vision of Active Citizens is ‘A world where people are empowered to engage peacefully and effectively with other cultures in the sustainable development in their community.’

The Active Citizens five day residential workshop held from 20 to 25of March 2017 in Kundasale was collaboration between British Council and their delivery partner, International Youth Alliance For Peace (IYAP) a local youth led volunteer not-for profit organisation. There were more than 30 participants representing Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities from all over the country. The programme develops Active Citizens who are potential change agents in their community. Through this workshop young people acquire a wide range of skills in leadership, communication, advocacy, citizenship, social responsibility, volunteering, fundraising, partnerships, and network building skills which contribute to community-led social development through Social Action Project delivery.

During the workshop, the participants were taken on a learning journey, referred to as the ‘the river’, which starts by building self-awareness and confidence and culminates in the planning and delivery of social action.

From building relationships with others; learning how to use dialogue as a tool for building empathy, trust and understanding through to practical and interactive sessions between Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim participants like Forum theatre. ‘Hold your assumptions lightly, not tightly’ was one of the most popular sessions which engaged the participants in activities regarding assumptions and debates whether assumptions are good or bad.

One of the main topics of the workshop was improving and understanding ‘communities’. What is a community? What are different communities around you? How communities can be empowered? Practical activities such as ‘the power walk’ addressed: What is power? How the centre of power can be influenced?

The workshop also focused on the biggest challenge in the journey of an Active Citizen; to change and empower their communities; developing an understanding of how the community ‘works’; learning how to identify stakeholders and interventions for addressing community issues and improving the motivation to act.

A cultural show was also organised by the participants with the help of the facilitators. They did combined events proving that language barrier is not a problem if you are willing to challenge something and proving that his workshop actually did make an impact on them. Participants used this event to showcase their diverse culture through song, dance and drama. It was undoubtedly one of the most successful sessions of the workshop.

Darshatha Gamage, a participant, representing the University of Kelaniya Rotaract club shared his views on this workshop “The Active Citizens workshop provided the opportunity for me to look at the things we know of in a different way. It also opened up the opportunity to network with young people who are engaged in impactful social action projects and to share experiences with each other.”

‘I feel empowered as a female and a social worker to deliver social action using my improved social responsibility and leadership skills’ stated Letchumanan Kokilavani volunteer representative from Sarvodaya Fusion, Hatton, Nuwara Eliya.

A total of 10 social action projects were planned and will be conducted by the participants all over the country. While all the projects have a cross-cutting theme of women and girls empowerment, reconciliation and peaceful co-existence is the main theme for their projects.

These Active Citizens are now ready to address issues in their communities, neighborhoods, empower the grass root level communities, bringing together people from different backgrounds including district councils, young people, community and religious leaders working towards creating a sustainable future for themselves and each other.

International Youth Alliance for Peace Inauguration ceremony and Celebration of Volunteerism held on the 25th of January 2017. Colombo

International Youth Alliance for Peace commemorated its 3rd Anniversary and celebrated the spirit of volunteerism. The Executive Team was appointed and young Individuals with a desire to serve were awarded at the Inauguration Ceremony that was held on the 25th of January from 6:30pm onwards at the DHPL Building, Colombo 02. The Ceremony was be graced by the Honorable State Minister for Higher Eductaion & Highways Mr Mohanlal Grero as the chief guest and Member of Parliament Mrs.Hirunika Premachandra as a special guest. IYAP has been working towards building a progressive and peaceful society through unity and sustainable development. The impact of our work has reached 5000 young people around Sri Lanka throughout our 3-year journey and we continue to strive achieving further progress through our work. IYAP is a youth run, non-profit organization which aims to reach its goal through continuous hard work and networking. The youth leaders of IYAP decided to host this event with the view to celebrate our partners, well-wishers and 350+ volunteers. We open gates to through workshops, round-table discussions, and other projects, the IYAP facilitates intercultural dialogue and networking among young leaders. The building of relationships and sharing of experiences will encourage learning, mutual respect, and peaceful coexistence. This organization creates leadership opportunities such as getting access to international conferences, policy discussions, events, partnering with other developmentoriented agencies and non-profit organizations locally and internationally. The objective of these opportunities is to empower young leaders and help propel youth voices into the global dialogue, as growing Youth Led Organization to embracing mutual understanding and respect of the world and drive people toward the better a sustainable social development. Our Volunteer platform will introduce several opportunity for Young Leaders who are looking at nationally relevant environmental, social and economic themes. Together with other youth led Organization we look forward to find solution collective and Open the gates of opportunity.

International Youth Alliance for Peace & World Vision conducted Disability Sensitization Workshop in Badulla

“If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The world has changed its view on disability. In most countries, people with disabilities are no longer treated as a separate group or viewed with pity and apprehension. Unfortunately, a few countries still have a long way to go in sensitization and inclusion.

After nine long years of hard work, advocacy and lobbying by people with disabilities, disability rights activists, the civil society and the organizations concerned, Sri Lanka ratified the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 8th February 2016.

On February 13th 2016, a team of young people set off to Meegahakuila in the Badulla District, to conduct a “Disability Sensitization Workshop”. This campaign was part of the project titled the Ability Forum, an initiative of International Youth Alliance for Peace and World Vision Lanka.

The International Youth Alliance for Peace (IYAP) is a youth-based organization which initiates youth-led projects that promote peace, reconciliation and sustainable development. The IYAP strives to create a network of young leaders committed to pluralism and inclusion. Its projects are led and carried out entirely by young volunteers.  

World Vision Lanka (WVL) is the collaborative partner of IYAP in this initiative to raise awareness about disability among children and youth. World Vision is a relief, development and advocacy organization working with children and families to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision has a special focus in disability inclusion in all its programmes.

This sensitization workshop was conducted for about 50 school children who belonged to the Child Society Club of Meegahakiula ADP. It was facilitated by a small team of WVL, IYAP as well as a visually impaired youth activist, Janith Rukmal, one of the members on the advisory panel of IYAP.  

The first session of the workshop was kicked off by two facilitators, Avanthi Kalansooriya and Janith Rukmal, who spoke about disability sensitization. The session was assisted by short video clips that showed children with disabilities being discriminated. The young participants were then asked to identify the problems they saw on the clips and discuss the possible solutions to these problems.

The next topic was about “Disability Etiquette”, which focused on the attitudes shown towards people with disabilities. This session included a role playing activity that familiarized the children with the responses and reactions that make a person with disability uncomfortable.

Other hot topics discussed were rights of children with disability, a basic theoretical knowledge of disability, and a basic tutorial on understanding sign language. The young participants were very enthusiastic to learn about sing language that IYAP member, Saranya Sivasubramanium, taught them how to converse using approximately 32 signs. The workshop ended with a session on a realistic understanding of the barriers faced by people with disabilities.

IYAP youth advisor and trainer, Janith Rukmal said, “I was so moved by some of their ideas and performances as dramatic renditions during the workshop which conveyed very strong and sensible messages about disability inclusion.”

The President of IYAP, Thirukumar Premakumar further added, “It was inspiring to hear children giving solutions to the problems faced by children with disabilities. Our young audience was very keen and eager in their participation during all the sessions. Based on the enthusiastic reception of this project, WVL and IYAP plan to replicate this workshop in other areas around the country as well.”

Samantha De Mel, Protection and Disability Specialist of WVL, commented, “Sensitizing children without disabilities, is essential for the inclusion of children with disabilities. Children are the best change agents to promote inclusion within their community. WVL is happy to work with the committed members of IYAP and we look forward to continuing our collaboration to replicate this initiative.”

For more information about the IYAP, please visit www.iyapsl.org.

International Youth Alliance for Peace, World Vision holds Disability Sensitization Workshop for Children

International Youth Alliance for Peace (IYAP) and World Vision recently conducted a disability sensitization workshop for 50 school children from Meegahakiula, Badulla District. The children were part of World Vision Child Society in the area. The workshop was a part of their Ability Forum Project initiated by IYAP.

The workshop helped the young participants to understand rights of children and people with disabilities, identify the issues and barriers faced by people with disabilities and possible solutions. They also learnt about general attitudes and reactions towards people with disability and how it was necessary to respond with sensitivity. The children also enjoyed learning the basics of sign language.

“This is the first time we have a programme that teaches us about disability,” said one participant, “I had no idea about what kind of an attitude we should have towards children with disabilities and I learnt today. I hope every child gets this awareness.”

“I was so moved by some of their ideas and performances as dramatic renditions during the workshop which conveyed very strong and sensible messages about disability inclusion,” says IYAP youth advisor and trainer, Janith Rukmal.

“It was inspiring to hear children giving solutions to the problems faced by children with disabilities,” says The President of IYAP, Thirukumar Premakumar, “IYAP is looking forward to replicating this workshop with World Vision in other areas around the country as well.”

IYAP is a youth-based organization which initiates youth-led projects that promote peace, reconciliation and sustainable development. The IYAP strives to create a network of young leaders committed to pluralism and inclusion. Its projects are led and carried out entirely by young volunteers.  

“Sensitizing children without disabilities, is essential for the inclusion of children with disabilities. Children are the best change agents to promote inclusion within their community and World Vision is happy to work with IYAP to replicate this initiative,” says Samantha De Mel, Protection and Disability Specialist of World Vision Lanka.

World Vision is a relief, development and advocacy organization working with children and families to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision has a special focus in disability inclusion in all its programmes.

According to statistics collected by the National Census 2012, it is estimated that 8.7% of the Sri Lankan population – approximately 1.74 million people – above the age of 5 years live with some form of disability.

After nine long years of hard work, advocacy and lobbying by people with disabilities, disability rights activists, the civil society and the organizations concerned, Sri Lanka ratified the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 8th February 2016.

For more information about IYAP, please visit www.iyapsl.org.

One Youth, One Nation

‘One Youth, One Nation’ is a Campaign organized by the International Youth Alliance for Peace (IYAP). IYAP founded in November 2013 provides a platform for the young volunteers to come together and work towards Sustainable Social Development through Empowerment, Mobilization and Innovation. As a country which underwent various civil and social conflicts, IYAP believes that Sri Lanka needs an attitudinal change as well as knowledge and skills that can enhance the relationships within different communities.

They also recognized that even though Sri Lanka was recently liberated from war, the Sri Lankan youth is still negligent of the International Peace Day. Not only are they unaware of the exact date, they are also ignorant of its significance. This became the reason behind the initiation of the campaign ‘One Youth, One Nation’.

The campaign was centered around acknowledging and celebrating the peace day as well as creating a stage for open communication, sharing stories and networking amongst the youth. Established in 1981 Unanimously under the United Nations Resolution 36/37, the ‘International Day of Peace’ (Peace Day) is observed worldwide every 21st of September. According to the declaration of the UN general Assembly this day is devoted to “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.” (UN)

The Peace Day theme for the year 2016 is “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace.” The New 2030 UN agenda require countries to strive to reach these goals in 15 years. These goals when achieved will end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. (UN)

“The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are our shared vision of humanity and a social contract between the world’s leaders and the people,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “They are a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success.” (UN)

These 17 Goals were shared at the One Youth, One Nation Campaign in Sri Lanka. In order to share the goals and to educate the youth on how to strengthen the ideals of peace within and in the community IYAP conducted a nationwide massive cluster of workshops on the same day. These amounted to a total of 13 workshops across ten districts, covering eight provinces of Sri Lanka.

“The Sri Lankan Youth are the backbone for inspiration of the community”, says IYAP. Which is why IYAP took measures to create awareness among the young, of the importance of Peace and the relationship between youth and peace. This also included of how they can contribute to build peace in the community. To drive these facts home and as encouragement to share their own stories of peace, testimonies from a diverse group of speakers were shared in these wrkshops.

Beginning these valuable two hour sessions with an energizing game on peace, in addition to the above the objectives covered and the topics discussed included the following areas as well.  Promoting intellectual dialog and mutual understanding. Enhancing their imagination and thinking power to come up with innovative peace building processes. Promoting peaceful co-existence. Providing development opportunities to empower the younger generation to create positive change. Teaching the young ones how to develop the community by building peace, protecting human rights, empowering youth, etc.

Rolling out this massive campaign and bringing together the youth of the country to become One Youth, One Nation was no mere feat. Which is why IYAP reached out and built a collective of partners, who are all voluntary organisations working with youth. The organisations who partnered with IYAP in this enormous effort of bringing One Youth, One Nation to life are Sri Lanka Unites, Jaffna Social Action Centre (JASC), American Centre –Jaffna, Advance Technological Institute, Jaffna, Muslim Aid, Family Well-being Centre, Rotract Club of University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka and Rotract Club of Chunnakam, Sri Lanka.

At the end of productive two hours, not only did the participants manage to define peace according to their own beliefs, but also opened up a dialog on the depth of the concept of peace. This proved that the IYAP and the collective of organisations were headed in the right direction. This self-education process led the youth to identify the concept of peace to be ‘Positive Change’. The open discussion also included conversations on how can they help build peace and if they are ‘Agents of Positive Change’.

In their own words, given below are a few testimonials on the workshops from the participants, officials and partners.

“One Youth, One Nation Campaign was an excellent initiative, I participated in the workshop hosted in Jaffna, it opened up my thoughts as to how young people like me can contribute towards Peace in our country” – Abinaya Suntharalingam (Jaffna participant)

“I am from Matara, I participated in the Matara workshop in Sri Lanka Unites Center, I understood the concept of peace and the importance of peace building in a multicultural country” – Arunuradha Samaranayake (participant from Matara)

“After the 30-year-old war, whatever has happened, you are ready to move forward despite of politics, cultural background and old generation. To mobilize people, this kind of grass root initiative is important. It’s a great example that money is not an issue of you want to do something good for the country” – (A Participant from the Peradeniya University)

“Our, ‘One Youth One Nation’ campaign represents young people from diverse socio-economic contexts across the country. While making an effort to understand their values, ideas and beliefs. this campaign helped us unite the younger generation across various communities in order to advocate peace through various measures. We at IYAP, strongly believe that such an effort would undoubtedly empower the young and create an understanding of the society they live in.”  – Thirukumar Premakumar – Founder President of the International Youth Alliance for Peace.

“Reconciliation is an everyday process where every citizen of a nation should celebrate and live up to. We as a youth movement for hope and reconciliation, engaging with young student leaders across the island on the international peace day, make us proud to be liaising as ‘One Youth, One Nation’.” – National Coordinator – Srilanka  Unites

With such a positive outcome for the 21st September efforts, all IYAP has left is to move forward, because this is just the beginning of One Youth, One Nation. In order to bring about ‘Positive Change’, groom ‘Agents of Positive Change’ and become One Youth, One Nation, IYAP along with their collective of partners has a long way to go. They are reaching out to more organisations and expanding their volunteer pool who will support their efforts in rolling out the second phase of One Youth, One Nation.

Until then IYAP leaves us with the message:

Peace is to have inner peace as well as peace among the people and the Youth is the foundation of a Nation. Let’s come together to become One Youth, One Nation for the prosperity of Lanka Matha.