Empowering grassroot communities to grasp the intersectionality of Language Rights and Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE)

The GEWE workshop organised for Language Clusters by Women’s Education & Research Centre (WERC)

Women’s Education & Research Centre (WERC), a NLEAP’s Rapid Response Fund (RRF) recipient, recently organised GEWE workshops for the Language Clusters of the Central Province. Language Clusters are groups of community leaders trained to promote awareness about language rights amongst grassroot communities. Language Clusters play an important role in promoting peace and reconciliation amongst diverse ethnic and religious groups through languages. NLEAP, through the National Languages Fund (NLF) has supported initiatives by NLF Partners, Up-Country Social Action Centre (UPSAC), Sri Lanka Centre for Development Facilitation (SLCDF), Human Development Organization (HDO), Ampara NGO Consortium, Aaruthal, Centre for Human Rights and Community Development (CHRCD) and PALM Foundation to strengthen, revitalize or initiate language clusters across the island. NLF partner initiatives with Language Clusters have ranged from promoting awareness of the Official Languages Policy, building capacity to identify and report language rights violations, and supporting second language learning.

The Gender Sensitization initiatives organised by WERC will play a critical role in building grassroot awareness about the gendered impact of languages. The GEWE equipping sessions were designed with the explicit objective of enabling the Language Clusters to comprehend the nexus between language rights and GEWE. Participating in the Sinhala and Tamil gender sensitization sessions held in the Central Province were GEWE Focal points from the NLF Partners HDO, SLCDF, UPSAC and PALM Foundation and 2 representatives from each of the Language Clusters supported by these partners. The GEWE component of the Sinhala Language workshop (27 Participants – 22F|5M), was facilitated by NLEAP Gender Equality Specialist, Saama Rajakaruna. The session on the Official Languages Policy was led by NLEAP Deputy Director, Marimuthu Thirunavukarasu. The Tamil Gender Sensitization Session (28 participants – 23F|5M) was led by Ms. Mangala Shankar. The interactive awareness sessions were designed to equip the participants with enhanced knowledge of the Official Languages Policy and how gender impacts diverse communities in enjoying their language rights. Highlighting the importance of integrating gender into programs and training conducted by the Language Clusters was a critical focus of the sessions.

WERC will work with NLEAP and its NLF Partners to equip 150 members of 69 language clusters. The deepened understanding on how gender intersects language rights will no doubt enable the Language Clusters to play a pivotal role in building gender sensitive bilingual communities in their respective localities.

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