The key functions of the Development Division of the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs are coordinating the development activities implemented by all the institutions and divisions under the purview of the Ministry for the creation of a sensitive society. It ensures the rights and development of women and children with an environment that enables them to live free from violence and implementing and performing the follow up and evaluation of the national level development programmes relevant to the development of women and children.
At the same time, coordinating the development activities for children and women carried out at Provincial, District and Divisional levels by coordinating the field officers appointed by the Ministry to the Districts and the Divisional Secretariat Divisions and implementing projects under the provisions received from foreign non-governmental organizations, specially the institutions affiliated to the United Nations, as well as coordinating between those institutions and the Ministry are also carried out by the Development Division.
Key Development Programmes Implemented - 2017
01 Motivating Women to Engage in Ecotourism Industry and Empowering them
Manufacturing products using local raw materials, especially indigenous medicine, producing crops using organic fertilizer and preparing food and beverages free of harmful flavouring in connection to environment friendly tourist industry are encouraged through this.
Popularizing products of women entrepreneurs from the very low income level, creating a market for such products and preventing issues that emerge in relation to tourism industry such as exploitation of labour and violence against women are expected through this.
Action has been taken to construct 03 sales centres in Kataragama Divisional Secretariat Division focusing on the Pooja Bhoomi, Maho Divisional Secretariat Division and Puttlam Divisional Secretariat Division, to facilitate the sale of women’s products.
Awarding equipment for self-employment
02 International Women’s Day
“Thunkal dakinnee- Saviyen dinannee” (She who understands the past, present and future-she wins the world) was the main theme for the International Women’s Day this year and it was aimed at further motivating women entrepreneurs. Accordingly, the national celebration of the International Women’s Day was held in Matara on 08.03.2017. A fair and exhibition for the products of women entrepreneurs of Matara District consisting of 75 stalls and a mobile clinic for health services and other essential services for women were held on two days to coincide with this.
Highlights of the National Celebration of the International Women’s Day
A march was held around Viharamaha Devi Park premises on 01.03.2017 as well with massive participation of women including female civil society activists with the aim of making people aware of the importance of the International Women’s Day as well as of violence against women. Marches of this nature to raise awareness were held in all 25 Districts in the island to coincide with this.
03 Media Programme
Electronic and printed media, especially through social networks and web sites, make a huge impact on society at present for the progress of society as well as for its regress. “Woman” has become one focal character portrayed by all these types of media. Accordingly, contribution of media is obtained to sensitize the society and raise its awareness about the programmes/projects/activities implemented by the Ministry to empower women and for the Protection of women.
A prominent component mentioned in the Action Plan developed by the “Women and Media” conference held in Paris in 1982 and the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995 is “The role of the media for women’s advancement”. The following activities have been carried out in this regard.
Taking action to give publicity to International Women’s Day and International Day of the Girl Child on such days through news items, interviews, newspaper supplements etc. to sensitize society towards them.
Production of a teledrama titled “Pedi Diya” about teenage pregnancies.
Production of a short documentary film about the role of the Ministry and the activities carried out by it.
Broadcasting awareness programmes on child protection over ITN FM radio channel from 6-7 a.m. every weekend.
Providing state of the art facilities and strengthening the media unit of the Ministry, which performs an efficient service despite inadequate facilities available.
04 Information Technology Unit
In economic and social empowerment of women to make them contribute to development and to overcome the challenges faced by them, availability of accurate data on women facilitates the performance of those tasks in a more reliable manner. This unit is operative within the Ministry with that aim. The following activities are carried out in that regard.
4.1 Networking the Child and Women Development Units located at all the District and Divisional Secretariats in the island with the Information Technology Unit of the Ministry.
4.2 Attaching the Field Officers at these Secretariats for this purpose and providing the technical tools that they require (Dongle, Pen drive)
4.3 Creating data bases and developing software systems as per the requirements of the Ministry.
- Under the E-women concept, creating the data base on Widows and Female Heads of Household and the data base on Gender Based Violence that are of national importance.
- Creating data bases according to the requirements of various Divisions of the Ministry.
4.4 Conducting training programme's on Information Technology.
- Conducting training programme's to improve the Information Technology literacy of the officers of the Ministry and all institutions affiliated to it.
4.5 Facilitating communication between the Ministry and the Field Officers.
Establishing a network system (APN Solution) with the aim of networking the Ministry, Divisional Secretariats and the District Secretariats.
Providing dongles to all the Child and Women Development Units established at all the Divisional and the District Secretariats under this.
- Establishing an internal e-mail system between the Ministry and the Divisional and the District Secretariats.
4.6 Using the Information Technology resources of the Ministry in an efficient manner.
- Establishing a Central Virus Guard System.
- Maintenance of software, hardware and networks.
4.7 Maintenance of the web site of the Ministry.
4.8 Creative contribution
- Producing ‘Suva Savi Liya’ mobile phone application for physical fitness and the documentary programme to mark the International Women’s Day.
- Making arrangements to conduct ‘ Suhuruliya’ (Smart woman) and ‘Suhuru Kathaa’ ( Smart Speech) programmes in collaboration with ICTA and Dialog.
- Creation of invitation cards/ advertisements/ first day covers/ stamps/ handouts to promote the dignity of women and children in the event of national festivals.
05 Establishment of Child and Women Development Units
The services from our Ministry are provided by the Women Development Officers, Counseling Officers/ Counseling Assistants, Child Rights Promotion Officers / Early Childhood Development Assistants/ Child Protection and Psychosocial Officers and Relief Sisters, who are attached to all the District and Divisional Secretariats in the island. Setting up one unit for all those officers will facilitate the minimizing of abuse of women and children and violence against them and the provision of services such as the protection, care and guidance they should receive from the state mechanism in the challenging / problematic situations they face, under one roof as well as constant follow up on the recipients of those services. A centre for collecting information and a counseling centre are also operative within this Unit.
At the same time, this Unit works in collaboration with Police Children and Women’s Bureaus set up at every Police Station in the island in relation to the protection of women and children as well as “Mithuru Piyasa” counters set up at government Base Hospitals and other government and non government institutions. Arrangements have been made to construct 7 units this year and provide office equipment for 26 units.
Unit at the Biyagama Divisional Secretariat
Unit at the Horowupathana Divisional Secretariat
06. Programme on Gender Mainstreaming and Women’s Rights
6.1 Sensitizing Society for Gender Equality
This programme is implemented with the aim of liberating women from Gender Based Violence and harassment and to sensitize society towards various misconceptions about woman and neglectful treatment meted out to women and also to provide advocacy for groups mobilized in that regard.
The aim of this programme is communicated to the society through awareness programmes, lectures and workshops and musical programmes. 23 programmes have been conducted within this year and arrangements have been made to conduct 15 more.
Community awareness raising
6.2 Establishing Gender Mainstreaming Programmes at Ministry Level
Cabinet approval was obtained for Cabinet Memorandum No.16/2523/740/013 dated 06.12.2016 to carry out the following activities with the aim of acting with equality and fairness for both women and men in gender mainstreaming, achieving Sustainable Development Goals and minimizing harassment of women in public institutions.
Promoting policies and practices based on gender to prevent discrimination against women and girl children.
Developing and maintaining projects and programmes that facilitate gender equality in work.
Maintaining gender balance and implementing gender budgeting.
Developing programmes, systems and measures to minimize Gender Based Violence.
Arrangements have been made to take the following measures with the collaboration of all the Ministries to raise awareness of the relevant officers and to train them.
Provision of basic awareness raising for the Secretaries to the Ministries
Developing a training module on expert advice to train officers.
Awareness raising on this process for officers at Ministry level.
Printing handouts/posters tec.
Awareness raising for Secretaries to the Ministries
Training workshop for Additional Secretaries/Directors
07.Women friendly and Supportive Model Village Programme
The basic aim of this programme is to convert the family unit into a beautiful place, where women are economically strong and its members are bonded to each other with respect and to create a happy and safe village made up of many such families. In selecting villages, villages where more widows and women heads of household live/ more incidents of violence against women and child abuse are reported/ a large number of female migrant workers are found/a women’s action societies have been set up/low level of physical facilities exist, are selected.
Necessary intervention to address the common issues and needs of villages selected in that manner and providing the relevant facilities and social and economic empowerment of women are carried out. A team comprised of government and non-government organizations and all the officers responsible implements this in collaboration as an action group. This programme is implemented in 08 villages in 2017.
The Ministry has taken measures to intervene in relation to the basic issues identified by now. Construction of Day Care Centers and preschools, identifying women entrepreneurs and providing further training and assistance for them, improving library facilities, drug prevention programmes and awareness programmes have been implemented in those villages.
Provision of infrastructure facilities
08. Special Programme to Prevent Child Abuse and Violence Against Women
Provisions amounting to Rs.50 Million have been allocated for 2017 for this special project, which has been implemented from 2014. Accordingly, the following activities are being implemented by now with the aim of making the prevention of child abuse and violence against women and provision of necessary relief to the victims more efficient within 2017.
8.1 Strengthening the Police Children and Women’s Bureaus.
With the aim of strengthening the Children and Women’s Bureaus located at Police Stations to minimize violence against children and women, 28 fully equipped new Bureaus have been constructed and handed over to the Department of Police by now for the welfare of women and children. Financial provisions required to construct 06 Bureaus in 2017 have already been released to the relevant District Secretaries and such construction works have been commenced.
In addition to this, necessary procurement procedure has been commenced to provide the office equipment required for the Bureaus at Thambuththegama and Gampaha Police Stations.
Opening of Kandaketiya Police Bureau
Commencing the construction of Police Bureau at Matara Division
8.2 Shelters for Women.
This project is implemented to provide temporary shelter for women victims of domestic or other forms of violence and their children until legal redress and security are provided. At present, for the implementation of the temporary shelters constructed by the Ministry in the Districts of Jaffna, Mulativu, Ratnapura and Batticaloa, action is taken in collaboration with non government organizations under the approval granted by the Cabinet of Ministers with CP/17/0234/740/001. Provision of legal assistance, counseling and medical facilities required by them as well as rehabilitation and empowerment of victims by building their self confidence are carried out through this centre.
Shelter Constructed in Batticaloa District
Signing the MOU with the NGO For administration of Shelters
8.3 Programme Conducted in Collaboration with Government and Non-Governmental Mechanisms to Prevent and Respond to Gender Based Violence
This programme was implemented in Matara District to coincide with International Women’s Day. In this, discussions were held about mobilizing all the government and non government organizations in the District to respond to Gender Based Violence and minimizing such acts, provision of required services to the victims and identifying the manner in which each sector should extend assistance and intervene in this regard.
Establishment of Temporary Shelters for Victims of Abuse and Violence.
One matter pointed out by the participants at the programme held in Moneragala last year get together the government and non-government mechanisms to prevent and respond to Gender Based Violence was that the child and women victims of violence and abuse were further subjected to various kinds of mental suffering, when they are treated in hospitals as in - patients in the same ward with the ordinary patients.
Therefore, they claimed that it would be helpful to have a separate place for such individuals within the hospital premises under full supervision and treatment of the medical staff to recover physically and mentally. Accordingly, work has been commenced to set up a new shelter in the Moneragala District Hospital premises.
09. Implementation of the National Action Plan to Minimize Sexual and Gender Based Violence (2016- 2020)
The 09 key sectors within the National Action Plan that addresses Sexual and Gender Based Violence along various aspects to minimize Gender Based Violence are child affairs, disaster management, economic development and employment, education, empowerment of women, foreign employment, health, justice and law reforms and media and higher education and vocational training education have been included under the 02 sub sectors. This Action Plan has been implemented from 2017.
Fields such as education, health, economic upliftment and prevention of/ intervention against violence, addressing acts of harassment of women at workplace and migratory women, protection and law enforcement, justice and law reforms, media and disaster management are included in this plan.
Approval has been granted to allocate the provisions required for the implementation of this plan under the midterm budgetary framework from 2017 to 2019. Accordingly, Ministries that are stakeholders responsible for each sector have already allocated funds under their annual budget estimate and necessary steps have also been taken to carry out the programmes and activities.
Progress review, follow up and evaluation of all the activities and programmes relevant to the plan are carried out under the leadership of this Ministry.
Launching Action Plan
10. Capacity Building for National and Civil Society Organizations to Promote the Right to Reproductive Health and to Respond to Gender Based Violence (UNFPA)
This project is implemented with the aim of taking action in relation to gender, minimize violence against women and resulting violation of their rights and to provide them the opportunity to receive the benefits of development. Provisions amounting to Rs.0.9 Million have been provided this year for carrying out the following activities.
10.1 Developing a method to refer victims of Gender Based Violence and harassment to government and non-government mechanisms for service provision. (Vavuniya, Trincomalee )
10.2 Collection of data and reporting on Gender Based Violence.
Establishing the accuracy of the statistics available in respect of the acts of violence of this nature is difficult because collection of data and reporting in this regard is still not done according to a formal and common model. Therefore, a methodology for formal obtaining of data is developed and the institutions proposed to collect this data within Colombo District for its pilot project are being trained to collect data according to a formal model.
11. Allocation of at least 25% Investments for the rural economic Development Projects
Taking a policy decision to invest a minimum of 25% out of government investments in projects to develop rural economy directly for women so that their contribution may be obtained.
Drafting national policies in this regard by the Treasury and the Department of National Planning.
Directing women towards these projects by the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs through the Child and Women Development units set up at District and Divisional levels, supervision and follow up.
Conducting workshops on gender budgeting and developing Key Performance Indicators (KPI) were carried out.
11.1 National Action Plan for Families of Women Heads of Household
This National Plan prepared with Cabinet approval consists of 06 aspects and it is expected to be implemented jointly through a multisectoral approach. The 06 proposed aspects are Health and Nutrition Programme, livelihood development and Marketing, supportive services (legal, housing, child care), security, social protection and Policy Formulation and awareness Programme
National Plan for Families of Women Heads of Household has been drafted by the Ministry by now.
This draft plan is further enriched by obtaining information from all stakeholder institutions including civil society organizations and Public Consultations.
11.2 The Convention on Elimination of All kinds of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Committee has provided their recommendations for the 8th periodic report submitted to CEDAW by Sri Lanka.
Accordingly, a Committee chaired by the Additional Secretary (Development) has been appointed by the Ministry to implement those proposals. All Ministries and Departments relevant have been made aware of those recommendations by the said Committee. The said Committee will make interventions in relation to the tasks further required to be carried out.