Exploring GEWE Interventions with the Translation Departments of Four Universities.

NLEAP workshop on “Gender Equality, Women’s Empowerment and Language Rights” with the Universities of Kelaniya, Jaffna, Eastern & Sabaragamuwa

A workshop was organized by NLEAP for the Translation Departments of the Universities of Kelaniya, Jaffna, Eastern & Sabaragamuwa on the theme “Gender Equality, Women’s Empowerment and Language Rights”. Conducted by NLEAP Gender Specialist Saama Rajakaruna and Gender Advisor Ramani Jayasundera, the workshop commenced with a revisiting of key concepts related to gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE). This paved the way for exploration on the linkages between GEWE and language rights. The interactive sessions that followed provoked dialogue amongst participants as to why GEWE must be promoted and how it could be incorporated into their scope of work and activity.

The level of engagement demonstrated by the University Representatives affirmed the findings of a gender-based analysis conducted by NLEAP in 2019 that revealed that in ‘University Institutions . . .  there is a commitment to gender and women’s equality’. The Gender Cells at the universities are testament to this commitment. However, it was those very same findings that also revealed that there was no ‘direct reference to translation courses in terms of course content or teaching’. This workshop was therefore designed in response to the felt need for a ‘uniform conceptual and practical understanding of gender and women’s equality linked to language rights’ and to provide the Translation Departments with insights  on how they could incorporate a gender and women’s equality approach in their work.

The very practical approach of engagement adopted by the trainers sparked discussion amongst participants on how the promotion of GEWE within Language Rights could impact policy making within their departments and influence the development of Translation Degree curricular and courses. Participants were challenged to critically evaluate GEWE and to identify gaps in their University so that they could design interventions that could further Gender Equality and Language Rights.  The brainstorming sessions enabled the University Teams to identify activities they could incorporate into their work with NLEAP to further GEWE. Some of the interesting areas of future activity to look forward to in 2021 as a result include; Syllabus adaptions to enable GEWE inclusion through practical work, course unit, internships, conferences, research; the development of GEWE Glossaries in Sinhala and Tamil; Revisiting University Policies to ensure Gender parity in recruitment; the Introduction of a MA in Translation Studies; and liaising with Gender Cells/ women’s organisations/counselling centres to facilitate attitudinal changes critical to the promotion of GEWE.

Thus, the workshop provided opportunity for the respective universities to not only understand the role of GEWE in language rights but to explore on what interventions they could take to promote GEWE within their sphere of influence and impact.