Spreading the message of the importance of the role of women in promoting social integration
As part of Social Integration Week 2014, a street drama was organized at the Karachchi Divisional Secretariat in Kilinochchi by the Kilinochchi District participants of the Women’s Empowerment for Social Integration initiative to raise awareness on social integration and gender empowerment among communities in the area.
Implemented by the Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration under the UNDP supported Strengthening Enforcement of Law, Access to Justice and Social Integration (SELAJSI) Programme, the Women’s Empowerment for Social Integration Initiative brings together 30 women from the districts of Kilinochchi and Moneragala. The initiative aims to engage with these women to strengthen their leadership skills, enhancing their knowledge on key social concerns such as social integration, gender empowerment and child abuse and the importance of language learning, communication and networking and encourage them to initiate community based activities to spread their message further.
Prior to being a part of the initiative, G. Kalajini says she was “not so forward.” Yet, the skills and knowledge she gained through the initiative has helped her build her self-confidence, ability to lead and work together with others. Agreeing with Kalajini is K. Sivakala who says that the initiative also helped them form new friendships, especially with those of the Sinhala community from the Moneragala district and learn each other’s language, explains that “Now we are able to work together on community activities”.
U. Sindana, yet another participant, adds that the street drama was one of the first activities they have organized as a group, using the knowledge they have gained through the initiative thus far. “Through the initiative, we learnt about leadership, we also learnt how to address key issues like child abuse and gender inequality, which we didn’t know about before, and the street drama is about sharing this knowledge among a wider community and raise awareness among them,” she says.
The group has also initiated other community activities, such as providing guidance to selected individuals on self-employment, conducting leadership training in schools and setting up a language committee. They also hope to work closely with the Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration during this year long initiative, in taking forward their activities and hope to be recognized as key agents of change among their communities.
The street drama that this group of women leaders has organized was well received by those who came to watch it. It was seen in their reactions. In the coming months, the street drama is to be performed in other Divisional Secretariat Divisions, thus reaching a wider community. Yet, for the Kilinochchi District participants of the Women’s Empowerment for Social Integration this is just the start of a new journey.