Gender-Identity and Expression.

True happiness and contentment lie in who you are. Humans naturally being social beings shackle themselves to the perceptions of others, and in the process of trying to fit into the so-called acceptable identities or templates, they forget themselves. They forget or ignore some of the most integral and interesting parts of their identity that make them unique. In an era, such as we live in, one such debatable and fought over topic is the topic of gender identity and expression, an essential part of every human being. Gender is a concept that can be broken down into three categories: gender identity gender suppression and physical sex.

The Plight of the Plantation Sector and how we can Help

As the Youth Advocacy Network, we don’t just advocate for rights. We do what we can to empower people lead better lives. This includes training, mentoring, and spreading awareness—all while having regular day jobs.

One of the projects our co-founder Sarah was recently involved in was to help combat sexual and gender-based violence in the plantation sector of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka already has a Domestic Violence Act, and is a signatory to multiple international machineries and mechanisms. Yet, there is a significantly higher amount of sexual abuse and violence in the plantation sector than in other urban regions.

Why?

Well, there are multiple reasons for this. However, to put it simply, some of the biggest factors are poverty and lack of education. The plantation workers have long been an exploited segment of disenfranchised people. Though they have basic rights now (like the right to vote, and being granted Sri Lankan citizenship), they still have long, hard battles. The daily wage system is especially problematic, in addition to being geographically isolated from basic and necessary infrastructure, and not being able to communicate fluently due to language barriers.

Statistics

Over 31% of women in the estate sector are underweight, as are most of their children. The under five mortality rate is 33/1000 live births as opposed to the national figure of 11/1000 live births.

Additionally, women in the estate sector have extremely low knowledge of gender-based violence, sexually transmitted disease, and related healthcare services.

Alcoholism is rampant in the estates, especially among men. 40% of the estate sector families are drinkers, compared to the 17% in urban and rural areas. This in turn leads to violence in homes.

Estate employees live in line rooms—tiny lodgings with barely any ventilation. They also lack basic facilities. Numerically, only 66.3% have sanitary facilities, 11% has clean drinking water, and 68% of the homes are equipped with electricity.

According to the poverty headcount index in 2012/13, 8.8% of the estate sector families live below the poverty line. 18% of married women between the ages of 15-49 have never been to school.

What can be done to alleviate this?

Community members stated that gender-based violence can reduce if there were effective, and active systems in place. This includes strengthening the police system and enforcing the law properly, getting the support of estate managers in resolving community issues, and ensuring male involvement in discussions.

In addition to this, everyone from children upwards should be made aware of legal repercussions as well.

This includes collective discussions with all concerned authorities. To this end, we organised sessions with

  • Public health midwives
  • Public health inspectors
  • Child development officers
  • Women development officers
  • Government Agents office staff

We covered topics ranging from sex and gender, forms of violence, the current situation in Sri Lanka, fatal and non-fatal outcomes of sexual and gender-based violence, laws and policies, how to respond, and more.

As a result

We can happily say that access to quality SGBV services for community members,
specifically, women and girls, has improved. There’s also an improvement with  Government officers and authorities, in their service delivery
skills on SGBV. They have developed non-judgemental attitudes, especially in  gender-responsive, rights-based approaches.

We did have several challenges; from being able to conduct sessions with the police, to getting permission, and developing a healthy relationship between the authorities and volunteers, especially in breaking the power-hierarchy. Not to mention it was also time consuming! However, we think we have managed to make this project sustainable, at least to a certain extent.

And we are definitely happy that we managed to help empower these communities, in a measurable way.

What we discussed on issues related to SRHR and bodily autonomy of women at the Think Tank

In September 2015 Youth Advocacy Network Sri Lanka initiated the National Youth champions Think Tank on unsafe abortion and network building meeting. The Youth Champions of Asia Safe Abortion Partnership and young peer educators of YPEER Sri Lanka decided to come together and form Youth … Continue reading What we discussed on issues related to SRHR and bodily autonomy of women at the Think Tank

BEIJING+20 YOUTH STATEMENT ON SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND RIGHTS AND GENDER EQUALITY SRI LANKA 2015

BEIJING+20 YOUTH STATEMENT ON SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND RIGHTS AND GENDER EQUALITY SRI LANKA 2015 We, as the young people of Sri Lanka, recognize the important achievements in the field of  education and employment opportunities for women since the Beijing Platform for Action  1995. … Continue reading BEIJING+20 YOUTH STATEMENT ON SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND RIGHTS AND GENDER EQUALITY SRI LANKA 2015

The Beijing POA imagines a world where women and girls can exercise their freedom and choices, realize all their rights & participate in decision making meaningfully. IS THIS A REALITY?

Beijing+20 youth review and advocacy training was an eye opener for me in terms of understanding the Beijing Deceleration and Platform for Action and the 12 critical areas of concern. It made not only me but the rest of the participants also who are activists … Continue reading The Beijing POA imagines a world where women and girls can exercise their freedom and choices, realize all their rights & participate in decision making meaningfully. IS THIS A REALITY?

ස්වයං අනන්‍යතාවය සහ ප්‍රකාශනය

අනන්‍යතාවය යනු පුද්ගලයකු ගේ වැදගත්ම අංශයකි. මෙම ස්වයංභාවය හා පුද්ගලිකත්වය පිළිබඳ ව හැගීම මනුෂ්‍යයකුගෙ දියුණුවට බලපාන ප්‍රධාන සාධකයක් වෙයි. සංකීර්ණ සමාජ ආකෘතීන් හා ප්‍රකාශනයන්ගෙන් ගෙන් සමන්විත වූ ජීවියෙකු ලෙස මනුෂ්‍යයා වඩාත් දියුණු වන්නේ ප්‍රකාශනයට අඩු සීමා සහිත වූ අවකාශයන් තුලයි. ස්වයං අනන්‍යතාවය පුළුල් විශයකි. ස්වයං … Continue reading ස්වයං අනන්‍යතාවය සහ ප්‍රකාශනය

ආබාධ සහිත පුද්ගලයින් සඳහා ලිංගික හා ප්‍රජනන සෞඛ්‍යය වැදගත් වන්නේ ඇයි?

ලෝක ජනගහනයෙන් 15% ක් එනම් බිලියනයක පමණ ජනතාවක් කිසියම් ආකාරයක ආබාධිත තත්ත්ව වලින් පෙළෙයි. මෙම ආබාධිත තත්වයන් ශාරීරික මෙන්ම මානසික යන කොටස් දෙකටම අදාළ වන අතර මෙම පුද්ගලයින් ලිංගික හා ප්‍රජනන සෞඛ්‍යය අධ්‍යාපනය හා සේවාවන් සම්බන්ධයෙන් අඩු ප්‍රතිලාභ ලබන කණ්ඩායම් අතර ප්‍රධාන ලෙස කැපී පෙනෙයි. … Continue reading ආබාධ සහිත පුද්ගලයින් සඳහා ලිංගික හා ප්‍රජනන සෞඛ්‍යය වැදගත් වන්නේ ඇයි?

මව්වරුන් විදේශගත වීම

ලංකාවේ වසරකට ලක්ෂ 25කට ආසන්න පිරිසක් විදේශගත වන අතර එයින් වසරකට  ඩොලර් බිලියන 7කට ආසන්න ආදායමක් ලැබෙන බව විදේශ රැකියා ප්‍රවර්ධන හා සුභසාධන අමාත්‍යතුමා පවසා තිබේ. අප රටට විදේශ විනිමය ලැබෙන ප්‍රධානතම මාර්ගය ලෙස ද විදේශ රැකියා කේෂත්‍රය පත්ව ඇත. ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ උසම ගම්මානය වන … Continue reading මව්වරුන් විදේශගත වීම

අඩු වයස් විවාහ හා ගර්භණීභාවය

ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ පවතින ප්‍රශ්න අතරින් එක් ප්‍රධාන ගැටඵවක් ලෙස අඩු වයස් විවාහ හා අඩු වයසින් ගර්භනී තත්වයට පත්වීම දක්නට ලැබේ. 2016 වසරේ  ජන විකාශන සෞඛ්‍ය සමීක්ෂණයට (Demographic Health Survey) අනුව ලංකාවේ අඩු වයස් ගර්භණී තත්ත්වය 4.6%ක් බවට ප්‍රකාශයට පත් කර ඇත. ගම්වලට සාපේක්ෂව වතු  ආශ්‍රිතව … Continue reading අඩු වයස් විවාහ හා ගර්භණීභාවය

Women in politics: Why they aren’t and why they should be

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), all people disregards of gender, social status, and ethnicity can participate meaningfully in governance and influence decisions that affect them. Also, the attainment of democracy presumes a genuine partnership between men and women in conducting affairs of … Continue reading Women in politics: Why they aren’t and why they should be