Marginalised Tamil plantation and Muslim minority communities in Delthota, Sri Lanka face barriers in exercising their right to health, including access to sexual and reproductive health and clean drinking water.
How we are helping
This project will empower communities, strengthen civil society structures and identify community-level leaders to engage in dialogue with government stakeholders and other decision makers to improve social determinants of health for these marginalised communities.
About the project
Project partners Women’s Development Center has been engaged with a civil society capacity strengthening project within the Delthota community in Sri Lanka since 2017. During this process, WDC has found that marginalised Tamil plantation and Muslim communities face a multitude of challenges in exercising their rights. Systemic barriers in the plantation sector and socio-cultural barriers in Muslim communities contribute to a cycle of disempowerment affecting all aspects of their lives and, consequently, hindering their ability and motivation to actively participate in changing their disempowering circumstances.
Access to safe and clean drinking water is one of the most pressing issues for communities in Delthota. Poor living conditions, limited job security, lack of nearby schools and difficult terrain with poor road access and transport facilities further obstruct access to education, health care and other service delivery structures.
This project will empower marginalised communities to be rights holders who are equipped to engage in dialogue with decision makers to address the systemic structural, economic and socio-cultural barriers and improve their right to health.
It will do this through:
- Mobilising marginalised communities to protect and promote their rights by strengthening existing self-help groups and civil society structures, and training community level leaders.
- Establishing engagement platforms for dialogue between community leaders, government stakeholders and plantation management on fulfilling basic human rights needs of plantation sector workers.
- Facilitating a dialogue within the Muslim community and Tamil plantation sector stakeholders on women and social determinants of health, engaging religious and community leaders. A systematic prevention, intervention and referral mechanism will be established to combat sexual and gender-based violence.
- Empowering communities with a continuous process of learning, training and knowledge building on their human rights, health and environment.
- Identifying innovative strategies and tools to support changes in attitude of young people towards education, career and lifestyle choice.
- Launching an advocacy strategy based on evidence and lived experiences of Delthota communities, to break the silence around health issues and the social determinants of health, thereby stimulating demand for policy change.
- Creating a pictorial case story booklet named ” Her Story” archiving lived experience of these communities collected through a short story competition and producing a short (4-5 minute) film of one of the most impactful stories.
As a result of this project, it is anticipated that communities will become more rights conscious with strengthened entrepreneurial skills and capacity for economic development, leading to improved access to services including education and health. Knowledge of rights among government officials and plantation sector will be expanded and engagement with community members will be strengthened to improve social determinants of health.
Women’s Development Center (WDC) is a women-led woman-centric organization that strives to create rights conscious communities. Combatting sexual and gender-based violence and discrimination is WDC’s main mandate and it focuses on creating change at individual, structural and systemic levels through four key focus areas: (i) Community Enhancement, (ii) Crisis intervention for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (iii) Social Inclusion of persons with disabilities and (iv) Economic Empowerment. It strives to ensure inclusion of vulnerable groups such as women and girls, children, youth, persons with disabilities, commercial sex workers and discriminated, marginalized and disaster affected communities in its change making process.
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