Mobile interactive space on the ‘Journey of Transformation and Women’s Empowerment’ launched during the 16 Days of Activism

An Interactive space to celebrate resilience and agency of Sri Lankan women and communities and efforts to respond and intervene in Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)

November 29, 2023
Representatives ceremoniously open the mobile interactive exhibition

Mobile Interactive space ceremoniously opened during the 16 days of Activism by the High Commissioner for Canada in Sri Lanka and Maldives; UNDP Resident Representative and UNFPA Representative to Sri Lanka

UNDP Sri Lanka

29 November 2023, Kandy, Sri Lanka: To facilitate a dynamic space for experience sharing and public engagement to foster dialogue and idea generation on Gender Transformation, Women’s Empowerment and addressing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), a mobile interactive space named, ‘A Journey of Transformation and Women’s Empowerment’ led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka was launched today in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

The mobile interactive space celebrates the resilience of Sri Lankan communities supported through UNDP Sri Lanka's efforts across the years to address barriers to gender equality and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and is in line with the ongoing joint project ‘Enabling Access to Justice for Victim Survivors of SGBV’ together with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with funding from the Government of Canada. This project aims at empowering victim-survivors of SGBV to access justice, demand and receive better support services and realize their right to live in a society free of SGBV.

Through interactive audio-visual material and thought-provoking discussions facilitated by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), the mobile space which commenced in Kandy will also be available in Nuwara Eliya, Kurunegala, Jaffna, Batticaloa, Galle and Colombo in the upcoming months.

The stories of gender transformation range from women’s contribution to Sri Lanka’s food security, to community leadership and entrepreneurial achievements, and how these efforts supported by UNDP Sri Lanka over the years has been instrumental to the achievement of the Gold status of the Gender Equality Seal by UNDP Sri Lanka. The Gender Equality Seal is a corporate standard for gender equality that organizations can qualify for and be benchmarked against to receive certification in accordance with best practices on gender equality inside an organization.

Commenting on UNDP’s work that has contributed to women’s empowerment over the years, Ms. Azusa Kubota, Resident Representative, UNDP in Sri Lanka noted, “The poly-crisis has exacerbated the risk of SGBV, disproportionately affecting women and gender minorities, making women’s economic empowerment as one of the key priority areas for UNDP over the years through livelihood support, women's entrepreneurship development, innovating financing for SDG 5, climate smart agriculture and promoting women’s engagement to address food insecurity, and promoting access to justice, that led to the achievement of the UNDP Gender Equality Gold Seal. The goal of this interactive space is to spark dialogue, fostering behavioural change towards personal transformation, progressively and proactively directing resources to prevention and response, while working together with our partners, civil society representatives and communities on the ground.”

Commenced during the 16 days of Activism against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), the mobile space will serve as an invaluable tool to raise awareness on these important issues and to support fruitful public discussions on addressing violence against women and girls.

Highlighting the role of the Government of Canada in supporting such initiatives, H.E. Eric Walsh, High Commissioner for Canada in Sri Lanka and Maldives stated, “Canada is pleased to collaborate with UNDP and UNFPA on innovative approaches to address GBV such as this interactive mobile space. It is part of our broader commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls under Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP).”

Violence against women and girls happens everywhere. It prevails in private spaces such as homes and public spaces like, schools, businesses, , public transport, sport arenas and, increasingly, online. Sexual & Gender-Based Violence remains the world’s most chronic, most devastating, and most overlooked violation of human rights making such impunity a reason for proliferation of SGBV.

Noting the contribution of UNFPA in this sphere, Mr. Kunle Adeniyi, Representative to UNFPA Sri Lanka highlighted, “As the lead UN Agency mandated to address the multiple dimensions of gender-based violence, UNFPA Sri Lanka places Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment (GEWE) as the overarching driver of our work. Our strategic interventions in Sri Lanka encompass a broad spectrum, including support to shelter providers, supporting multi-sector response mechanisms, capacity building for service providers, infrastructure development, and the generation of vital data and knowledge products for evidence-based decisions and policies. In our current project, we aim for three outcomes: Strengthened Perpetrator Prosecution Systems, Enhanced Access to Justice through Multi-Sectoral Coordination, and Improved Systems and Infrastructure to tackle Technology-Facilitated GBV. To build a just society, engaging men and boys is not an option but a necessity to challenge stereotypes and foster a culture of mutual respect and equality.”

‘A Journey of Transformation and Women’s Empowerment’ mobile interactive space will run from 29th November-1st December 2023 at the E.L. Senanayake Library premises in Kandy, with free entrance for public viewing.