Stronger civil society and local authorities to help build sustainable livelihoods in Sri Lanka

Stronger civil society and local authorities to help build sustainable livelihoods in Sri Lanka

I am a woman of courage and I now have the skills to use this courage so that women are benefitted along with men in my society.

Jansy

CONTEXT

Jansy ki Rani is a symbolic name that has been given to Mrs. Rahunathan Jansy. The original contender of the name was a notoriously brave queen from central India that continues to inspire many a people. So does Mrs. Jansy from the war torn district of Mannar in Sri Lanka. At age 27, she has lived many lives. She is a mother, she is a wife of a man she married a few years back, she has been an internally displaced person but what she is equally proud of is her many roles in the community.

OBJECTIVES

  • Strengthen the role of Civil Society to work toward poverty reduction by addressing governance barriers that perpetuate poverty.
  • Civil society groups and local authorities are strengthened to increase and improve decision-making regarding development issues in their areas.
  • Increase equal livelihood opportunities for reconciliation in interfaith/inter-ethnic communities.
  • Reduce poverty through provision of personal and professional skills.

RESULTS

  • Capacity building: Civil society groups and local authorities have the capacities and are empowered to take ownership of development initiatives.
  • Peace building: Conflict mitigation through equal access to livelihood resources and opportunities.
  • Skills building: reduced poverty through the provision of marketable personal and professional skills.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • 6 to 8 women are considering participating in the local government elections.
  • 3 000 families, lacking basic livelihood opportunities can benefit from these changes.

TESTIMONY

Jansy

At age 27, she has lived many lives. She is a mother, she is a wife of a man she married a few years back, she has been an internally displaced person but she is also proud of  her many roles in the community. She is currently the secretary of her community centre, an auditor for Women Rural Development Society, a Sunday school teacher, a treasurer for the village child development society and other such community organisations.

This wasn't always the case however. When we met Mrs. Jansy, she came across as a strong woman and a solid citizen, she tells us however that despite having some basic educational qualifications and recognised potential to be a leader, she followed societal norms. "I was scolded for speaking up. I was expected to follow the traditional path of cooking, cleaning and tending to my child, which I did. I knew I had it in me to do more but the pressure to adhere to what was expected was so high that I didn’t dare".

Things changed for Mrs. Jansy and for the better. It was one of those days when Mrs. Jansy was tired of being criticised that she met an employee of ZOA. The latter mentioned to her the importance of women to also take control, to be able to take decisions and to be in the position of implementing them. Despite initial hesitation, Mrs. Jansy participated in a training organised by ZOA and which was funded by the European Union. It was a novelty as not many organisations work in that part of Sri Lanka which was one of the reasons why she attended.

"As and when these trainings happened, from leadership to understanding the political situation of the country to elections, speech giving, the transformation of justice sector, I knew my calling". Mrs. Jansy herself finds her transformation phenomenal. She states with great confidence that local government elections will be her first stop. "I am a woman of courage and I now have the skills to use this courage so that women are benefitted along with men in my society. I might not be nominated and I might not win but the fact that I can even imagine leading people and having the support of the society to believe this dream, is an achievement of sorts". For her, diplacement has been both a painful experience but also one wich has increased her empathy and understanding of what can be done better. Her story has impacted many people on this isolated stretch of land.