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Sri Lanka

Articles by Sri Lanka

SPRINT
26 April 2022

SPRINT: Sexual and reproductive health in crisis and post-crisis situations

  The SPRINT Initiative provides one of the most important aspects of humanitarian assistance that is often forgotten when disaster and conflicts strike: access to essential life-saving sexual and reproductive health services. We build capacity of humanitarian workers to deliver essential life-saving sexual and reproductive health services in crisis and post-crisis situations through the delivery of the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for reproductive health in emergencies.   Through funding from the Australian Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), our SPRINT Initiative has brought sexual and reproductive health to the humanitarian agenda, increased capacity and responded to a number of humanitarian emergencies. Australia has funded the SPRINT initiative since 2007. Since then, the SPRINT initiative has responded to 105 humanitarian crises and worked with partners in 99 countries. SPRINT has reached over 1,138,175 people, delivering 2,133,141 crucial SRH services, and continues to respond to ongoing emergencies. In each priority country, we work with an IPPF Member Association to coordinate and implement life-saving sexual and reproductive activities. Through these partnerships, SPRINT helps strengthen the enabling environment, improve national capacity and provide lifesaving services during times of crisis. You can read more about IPPF Humanitarian’s Programme here. Australia's location in the Indo-Pacific provides DFAT with a unique perspective on humanitarian action. Australia is committed to helping partner governments manage crisis response themselves. This is done through building the capacity of the national government and civil society to be able to respond to disaster. DFAT also works with experienced international partners to prepare for and respond to disasters, including other donors, United Nations agencies, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and non-government organisations.          

Thushara Agus
30 April 2020

COVID-19 Impact: What we know so far – Sri Lanka

An interview with Thushara Agus, the Executive Director of the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka (FPASL), on the impact of COVID-19. How has Sri Lanka been affected by coronavirus/COVID-19?  Sri Lanka has recorded 596 positive cases and seven deaths so far, since its first case was recorded on 27 January. The country has been under an island-wide curfew since 17 March. These numbers are based on a very limited testing facility, and the country has enforced social distancing as a proactive measure because Sri Lanka’s healthcare sector has a limited capacity which would struggle with a large outbreak. What impact is coronavirus having when it comes to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services?  SRH services, both in the public and private sector, are heavily curtailed except for deliveries and pregnancy-related services. Most pharmacies are still open on a daily basis, so contraceptives can still be accessed. What impact has there been on abortion services and post-abortion care?  Providing women with the contraceptive injection (Depo-Provera) and other family planning (FP) methods that they need have been most affected. And abortion related-counselling and post-abortion care are non-existent.  Are frontline staff still able to go into the community?  Up until the third week of April all our clinics/service delivery points (SDP) were shut due to curfew under emergency conditions. Last week we commenced trainings for four SDPs on infection control for the service providers, and three of the four SDP clinics are open now on a schedule every week on a particular day per week, for a three-hour time slot. As of now only FP services are offered – all methods along with counseling and laboratory services are open in two SDPs with only essential testing being offered, such as routine testing for pregnant mothers, urine HCG testing, haemoglobin testing and glucose tolerance testing.   What will you be doing to keep providing services to people in Sri Lanka?  FPA Sri Lanka has activated a hotline call center called Happy Life to give directions for sexual and reproductive healthcare during this difficult period. It has also sent messages to all of our clients about ongoing family planning services through the available channels. Our contraceptives are available in over 5,000 pharmacies for the public to order and access. Happy Life stays geared to provide psychological and social support to clients throughout this period. Can you tell us about any innovative measures that have been introduced in Sri Lanka to provide services in a different way than usual?  FPASL have implemented a number of measures that include the following: Under the curfew FPASL provided 5,000 sanitary napkins to six quarantine centers run by the state for returning migrants, which includes a large number of Sri Lankan students who have been stranded overseas Provided 2,000 face masks to the birthing center staff of a leading maternity hospital Loaned 10,000 vials of Depo-Provera to the government agency for family planning, to continue services for poor and underserved Made a reallocation of The Global Fund grant savings of $350,000 to enable the government to procure safety garbs for COVID-19 treatment centers Going further, agreed to supply a substantial stock of contraceptives, condoms, pills and emergency contraceptive pills to neighbouring Maldives through UNFPA, to meet their urgent demand Awaiting to assess Sri Lanka’s gap on contraceptives to support the government, if our stocks permit Exploring the possibility of ordering contraceptives from our suppliers to replenish supplies in the event of production slowing down FPASL teamed up with a popular media channel (as a media partner) to launch an online counselling and information helpline for all SRH issues, mental health issues, sexual and gender-based violence etc. FPASL's Alokaya Counseling Center and Happy Life Unit (mainly for youth) have also been providing free online services on SRH information throughout this time. What message do you have for people and your staff in Sri Lanka when it comes to SRH services and coronavirus/COVID-19?  We have ensured that all staff members adopt safety and precautionary methods. When people are working from home we are encouraging them not to have any social contact. The one message widely disseminated is that one cannot neglect their general and sexual and reproductive health under these circumstances, and to access medicines and care through available means.

Sakuni with her dignity kit
25 June 2019

Delivering transgender dignity kits in a disaster

Sakuni is 36-year-old transgender woman from Sri Lanka. A transgender activist, she speaks passionately about the situation facing transgender people in Sri Lanka and her work with the National Transgender Network of Sri Lanka (NTNSL).  Sakuni was born with both male and female genitalia, but as her mother and father already had four daughters, her parents decided to raise her as a boy. But, “at the age of eight or nine, I felt like I am a girl. At the age of 11 or 12 I started to be attracted to boys at school”, she says.  She ‘came out’ to her family, who accepted Sakuni for who she was. “My family didn’t hide me away when I came out as transgender, they accepted me. My father has passed away, but my sisters and mother like to come visit me and like going places with me.”  “I am happy as a transgender person because my family loves me, but the other transgender people face many problems from their family,’” she says. “They cut their hair and force them to change their clothes and cut their nails. They don’t allow them to wear makeup or shave.”  Being able to shave is an integral part of being a transgender woman. Which is why during disasters, such as the severe flooding Sri Lanka experiences on a yearly basis, it’s important for transgender people to have access to razors.  A timely idea  Just before the October 2018 floods, Sakuni had been attending training at IPPF’s Member Association, the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka (FPASL). It was there she came up with the idea to ask for some dignity kits to distribute to the transgender community in her area.  “At that awareness program, I learnt that FPASL supports transgender people during disasters. FPASL is the only organisation that talks about transgender people. I had this idea, if I can do something for transgender people by requesting dignity kits for them, then the awareness program is completed.”  These kits include items such as underwear, sanitary napkins, soap, toothbrushes, and towels, and are intended to help restore women's dignity and increase their mobility during crisis situations. Furthermore, the buckets that contain these items can double up as water containers.  NTNSL has long-standing ties with community-based organisations in these districts and transgender persons can be considered extremely vulnerable in crises sometimes not feeling safe or not being able to enter temporary shelters. They are also sometimes being excluded from distributions given that the gender marker on their identification form does not match their gender identity and appearance. It can be difficult to access these kits, or even if they do, the items are not designed with the transgender woman in mind. FPASL had specifically designed kits to be transgender-friendly.    “I distributed the kits myself. They were hugging me, they worshipped me for distributing those kits. It was really emotional for me. When I received the kits and saw what was inside, I wanted to protect the items as a souvenir. But of course, I used them! The items included things we have never got before as a transgender person. Receiving something like this for us makes us very happy. I feel like it’s a gift for us because normally we don’t get anything from any party as a transgender person.”  Discrimination in aid Transgender people are often unable to access humanitarian aid in emergencies due to discrimination. In Sakuni’s case, it was the lack of the right National Identification Card which prevented her and her friends from accessing aid. “We [the transgender community] weren’t registered in this area. So we couldn’t get any other food or aid. We are transgender so we selected this area to live so we are near to each other. We can’t just go anywhere; we have to stay in certain areas. This area is good for transgender people because it’s not crowded and we are used to this area, and the people are used to us. They don’t laugh at us.  But in other areas, we have problems.”  Because their ID cards didn’t match the location they were staying in, Sakuni and others were unable to receive aid. This is where most transgender persons in Sri Lanka face a huge obstacle, as their assigned gender at birth that is reflected on their National Identification Card does not match their real gender. If they queue up in the male line, the men shout at them. “So we just don’t vote”, she said.  Change is coming In Sri Lanka, changes are coming slowly. Sakuni says that, besides changes in attitude needed in the general public, it is also important that the Government reflect the LGBTI community. “Can’t a transgender person be in the parliament to represent our community, so our voice is there? I would like to go to parliament one day for my transgender community. I would ensure all transgender people can get the National Identification Card and voting rights.” National governments have their part to play, but the humanitarian community can do their part by incorporating transgender-friendly services in emergency responses. Last year, IPPF hosted the first ever Pride in the Humanitarian System consultation, which brought together hundreds of LGBTI+ activists to steps that can be taken in humanitarian emergencies to ensure our responses are more LGBTI+ inclusive.  The findings from this consultation were clear: understanding the needs of LGBTI+ people is critical to address the inequalities experienced during preparedness, response and recovery. Our trans-friendly dignity kits for Sakuni and her community are just a small step towards a much bigger goal. All actors in the humanitarian system must be mutually committed, responsible, and accountable to LGBTI+ people. It is only when we work together that we will achieve a just and equal response to humanitarian crises.   

International Women's Day
04 March 2019

Celebrating passion and commitment this International Women’s Day

International Women's Day (8 March) is a time to celebrate the incredible achievements of fearless women around the world. Today (and every day) we’re honored to highlight the passion and continued commitment of doctors, nurses, peer educators, activists and volunteers who dedicate their efforts to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights globally. These are just a few of them:  Chathurika Jayalath, youth volunteer, Sri Lanka In May 2017, flash flooding in Sri Lanka triggered landslides resulting in many people losing their homes and forcing them to seek emergency shelter. 24-year-old student Chathurika, a youth volunteer for IPPF’s Member Association the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka (FPASL), took part in the response. She helped in organizing the health camps, and she even runs a youth club at her university to inform her peers about sexual health. Find out more about Chathurika inspiring community contributions   Emma Watson, actor & activist, UK For almost as long as she’s been in the spotlight, actor Emma Watson has been well known for her feminist activism. Over the years she has lent her support to many vital issues including ending child marriage, violence against women and female genital mutilation, as well as fighting for abortion care and LGBTQI rights. She’s also a partner to IPPF! Keep up with Emma’s important work by following her on Twitter now Vicky Acora, volunteer, Uganda  Vicky is a married mother-of-two. She faces all the usual challenges that women face when it comes to getting sexual and reproductive health services - but Vicky’s life is complicated further because she is deaf. In the past, she would have trouble communicating with health staff who did not understand her needs, but since seeking services at Reproductive Health Uganda’s clinic in Gulu (a Member Association of IPPF), she has been able to get the healthcare she needs. She has since then even been advising other deaf people to seek services with the clinic. Read more about Vicky’s experience   Dr Leana Wen, president of PPFA, USA IPPF was thrilled when Dr Leana Wen was appointed as President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America last year. She is a dynamic public health leader, a practising physician and not least, a formidable woman. Since she started her demanding role, she has helped Planned Parenthood continue to provide high-quality care to the people who need it across the United States, and she is a powerful voice in our fight to ensure that women have the ability to make their own healthcare decisions. We look forward to seeing what she will achieve next. If you do too, then follow Dr Wen on Twitter Abla Abassa, health worker, Togo Abla is a community health worker. She spends her days cycling around her home village’s dusty streets in rural Togo visiting households who have signed up to an innovative programme that provides contraception in hard-to-reach places. She might visit as many as five households in one day, where she’ll discuss and provide family options including the Pill, condoms and injection, with people who might otherwise not know what their choices are. Find out more about what her vital job entails  

Ratnapura District of Sri Lanka
27 February 2019

Fighting for safe abortion access in Sri Lanka

“I’ve met many women who were forced to have abortions, and one that stands out is a woman who had gone abroad to work and was raped by the husband in the family for which she worked… she had to come back to Sri Lanka and get an unsafe, backstreet abortion.”  – Sonali Gunaseka, Director of Advocacy at the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka In Sri Lanka, abortion is so severely restricted that people who cannot afford high-quality services, either in the country or else abroad, are forced to risk their lives to get the procedure done in unsafe conditions, or are forced through a pregnancy that they cannot afford, manage, or do not want.  Sonali Gunasekera, Director of Advocacy at the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka (IPPF’s partner organisation in the country) has been working to change people’s hearts and minds there regarding abortion access. She wants women to decide what happens to their bodies, and to have control over their own futures. She wants to prevent people being forced to risk their lives by receiving this form of healthcare in unsafe, backstreet conditions.  We spoke with Sonali (pictured below) about access to this vital healthcare service and the impact it has.  IPPF: Can you tell us about the context of abortion in Sri Lanka?  Sonali: Sri Lanka has one of the strictest abortion laws in the world, which stipulates that abortion is illegal unless the life of the mother is at risk. You must have three doctors’ signatures to agree to this; if not, the abortion is not permitted.  Right now, you cannot have an abortion in cases of rape, incest or foetal deformities; but there is some movement to change the law to allow abortion in these cases, which is good. There has been a lot of resistance to this movement, and it is important to bear in mind that even if it does go through, it will be a small change that won’t affect most women who seek access to abortion. This is because they are usually women over 35 years old, who already have two children and do not fall within any of the categories mentioned above.  IPPF: How does this affect people who are pregnant and don’t want to be, for whatever reason?  Sonali: If you are of the upper-middle class in Sri Lanka, you can go to certain private hospitals and pay for the service. But, if you don’t have the money, you will be unable to access this service and due to a lack of officially regulated information, it is often the case that you will hear about places and procedures by word-of-mouth. These places can be unhygienic, or else the provider could be unskilled. The woman may not be given pain relief, so it can be quite a horrible experience for her, as has been related to me by women that I have interviewed regarding their experiences. Although Sri Lanka’s maternal mortality rate is low, unsafe abortions and their consequences account for a high proportion of the deaths that do occur, and the mortality rate for abortion stands at about 15%. We can legally access post-abortion care, but there’s a lot of stigma around it, so a woman who seeks medical help may be asked all sorts of questions that make them feel judged or afraid of possible consequences. Questions can include things like “How did this happen?” “Why did you go for an abortion?” “Did you not know this is illegal in the country?” So, the women who aren’t deterred by this and do seek help may not disclose that they’ve had an abortion, which means that they may not get the right care.  IPPF: Around the world – where it’s legal to have an abortion under these strict circumstances – we’ve seen people dying because it’s difficult to get multiple doctors or lawmakers to agree that these circumstances happened. So what does this possible new law mean for women and girls in Sri Lanka in practical terms?    Sonali: About 1% or less seek abortions for incest, rape and foetal deformities. The law is so strict that it requires that you get multiple doctors or a judicial medical officer to give their signature. But doctors will only sign it off if they have absolute proof of rape, incest or foetal abnormality; this makes sign off difficult as the medics could go to prison themselves for allowing the abortion. With rape, it can take our legal system about 20 years before a rape case is finally proved. So, when someone needs to prove rape in a matter of weeks in order to get an abortion, I’m not sure this will be possible.  It makes me feel quite angry that these men who put these women through so much trauma have impunity and that they are not prosecuted. The women must prove beyond any doubt that all these things happened; they must go to the judicial medical officials and show their underwear as proof; they must take tests to prove that the hymen has been perforated; all these procedures that are invasive and re-traumatizing because there exists so much doubt and bureaucracy for victim-survivors. It’s just very skewed and unfair; as a gender issue, it is something that I feel very strongly needs to change. IPPF: What’s your experience of the psychological impact of how women are treated when they seek help?  Sonali: The experience can be traumatic. I have spoken with women who have said that they receive rude treatment from nurses and also doctors in hospitals. Their self-esteem goes down a lot when they are shouted at and treated like criminals. They may feel isolated and scared and alone because there is stigma around pre-marital sex or sex out of wedlock, so women may feel ashamed and not reach out to a support system, if at all one exists for them. Seeking a source of help and medical intervention itself can be difficult and stressful.  There is a lot of discrimination throughout this process. It’s a gender issue, as if it is the case of a relationship, men do not necessarily have to go through any of this stigma, self-esteem issues, or deal with rude doctors or nurses.  IPPF: How can we change things?   Sonali: Looking at Ireland’s situation, I feel as though having people out on the street protesting and showing their support did a lot. I have so much respect for people who mobilize like this. In Sri Lanka, I think we’ve got to mobilize the public, because if you keep it in the hands of parliamentarians and religious leaders, there is no way the restrictive law and all the negative consequences that come with it are going to change. Contrary to the popular argument, it’s not even Sri Lankan culture, but rather British Victorian values and laws that criminalize women.  I think we need to work with women who are understanding and who would be willing to think of their daughters and others close to them who could face similar situations. In the past month in Sri Lanka, I’ve seen a lot of young people coming to the streets and saying: “It is important to take our views into account; the voices of our generation.” So, we need to create mass attitudinal changes through media, and also through innovative ways like street dramas and other ways of working with young people. Do you believe every woman and girl around the world has the human right to decide what happens to their body? Then add your voice to our I Decide campaign.

Woman
01 November 2018

“I was faced with a forced pregnancy. I was a victim of the law.” – Dayani’s story

This account was told by Dayani* to Youth Action Network Sri Lanka, and contains details of sexual assault that some may find upsetting.  I was separated from my parents in India when I was small and so came to live with my grandparents in Sri Lanka. As soon as I turned 18 and left school, they wanted to marry me off. I didn’t want to marry at such a young age. I was young and I had dreams – I wanted to work, to study, to really live my life before becoming a wife. I didn’t see any other option that to leave my grandparents, and I moved to Colombo to seek the life I wanted. I was alone and making a fresh start. I was lucky to find a job soon and it paid well enough to allow me to continue my studies and live. I was boarding with a friend and I was feeling good.  As a part of my work, I had to attend an event. That was when I first met R. R happened to be a friend of a friend, so I met him on multiple occasions and he was clearly interested in me, yet I took my time and did not give him any indication of interest or commitment. After spending time together, my interest and affection for him began to grow and eventually developed into more intense feelings of love.  He planned the whole thing One day, we went to the beach together. We were teasing and pushing each other by the water, and I got wet by the waves. I was not in a position to travel on public transport with wet clothes and I told him I needed to change. We went to a shop to get some clothes and then we had to think of a place to get changed. He said he knew a place and he took me to a place where there were rooms. He got access to a room – we didn’t even have to show our identity – and it became clear to me that he had been here before as the staff seemed to know him. When I went inside the room, I asked him to wait outside, as I would finish dressing soon and meet him after. He didn’t listen to me. He overrode my wishes, and raped me. I realized now that he had planned the whole thing. Almost everything. From the beginning.  It took me a few months of not having my period to realise that I was pregnant. I was almost four months into it. I felt absolutely helpless and I didn’t know what to do. I was raped and I didn’t want to go through with this pregnancy. I wasn’t ready, I was in the city alone, and I was in no condition to support myself. Alone, depressed, devastated I contacted R and he told me he would get me the pills for a medical abortion. I somehow got the money together and gave it to him for the pills, but he disappeared with the money. Then I sold a gold chain I had to make the money to try for the pills again, yet going through this medical abortion did not work. I was alone, depressed, and devastated.  We are working to ensure no one goes through a horrifying ordeal like this again. IPPF, directly and through its hosted Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) partners, delivers a range of abortion related services, including pre- and post-abortion counselling, surgical and medical abortion, and treatment for incomplete abortion. Masitula, a mother-of-two and sex worker from Uganda is one of those who have benefited from this support through SAAF – read her story now. In 2017, IPPF projects averted 1.7 million unsafe abortions, and we delivered nearly 5 million abortion-related services globally. Play your part by joining I Decide, IPPF’s movement fighting for safe abortion access for all. Through a network of contacts, I finally found a place where I would be able to terminate my pregnancy. It was extremely costly and I had to ask for help not just from friends but also from strangers because I could not afford it myself. I was scared, feeling insecure about my life and my safety, yet I didn’t feel as though I had any alternative but to go ahead with a potentially life-threatening procedure.  I experienced many physical complications following this. Additionally, I was tackling the mental strain of feeling hatred towards R and what he had done to me. I would see him leading his normal and comfortable life amidst all my pain. I was going through trauma and there were times when I wanted to end my life. To end it all.  No faith left I didn’t want to share my story with anyone because people would judge me. They would blame me for putting myself in this condition – for leaving my grandparents, for not agreeing to the marriage, for living alone in Colombo, for having a boyfriend, for wearing the clothes I wore, for being raped, and for undergoing an abortion. My family, society, culture, religion, legal setting, the patriarchy and the oppression has made me feel as though I am the perpetrator. I don’t have faith in life, love or people. It will take me years to trust a man again and to forget what happened to me. Honestly, I don’t know whether I will be able to ever forget what I went through. I was raped and I was in no condition to report it. I was faced with a forced pregnancy. I was a victim of the law. *Dayani's name has been changed to protect her identity.

Chathurika, Sri Lanka

Inspiring young people like Chathurika play a crucial role in crisis response

In May 2017, flash flooding in Sri Lanka triggered landslides resulting in many people losing their homes, forcing them to seek shelter in camps. IPPF’s member association the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka (FPASL) assisted those affected and provided health camps with the support of IPPF Humanitarian. Chathurika Jayalath, a youth volunteer for FPASL, took part in the response. Chathurika is a 24-year-old student from Kegalle, a large town about 80 km from Colombo, and she has been working with FPASL for the last three years. She started out as a youth volunteer and recently became a member of the Youth Technical Advisory Committee. During her engagement with FPASL, Chathurika has learned about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and gender issues and has organized workshops on similar topics in her own community. In fact, she runs a youth club at her university to inform her peers about SRHR.  Shortly after the floods began, Chathurika received a WhatsApp message from FPASL where they called for youth volunteers to take part in the response.  “I wanted to volunteer during the response,” Chathurika told us. “As a university student I didn’t have money to donate so I figured I could contribute with my strength instead. I volunteered in the health camp. There, I assisted the medical staff with basic things such mobilizing affected people, making sure they queued up when seeking health care and packed medicine.” Ongoing SRHR needs, even in a crisis Chathurika is keen to learn more about humanitarian work. She received training with FPASL on the needs of people in humanitarian settings in which she and other trainees were presented with different case studies. “There was particularly one story that struck me. We were told that when the flash floods came, women fled without anything, they fled with the only pair of clothes they were wearing,” recalls Chathurika. “When they reached the camp, they received donated water and food. Some of them got their period while living in the camp. They did not have any sanitary pads nor additional cloths. Some of them even fled without underwear. This story made me realize that people’s SRHR needs don’t disappear just because there is a crisis.” Youth empowerment is important to Chathurika and she would like to continue this work while learning more about development and humanitarian work. She is a firm believer “that young people can contribute. Through my own experience I have seen that it is possible.”   

Social Enterprise
11 July 2018

Social Enterprise Acceleration Programme

IPPF is committed to supporting Member Associations to develop social enterprise activities for the purpose of generating income, diversifying funding sources and, ultimately, achieving organizational and financial sustainability. IPPF understands social enterprise as using entrepreneurial methods to generate a surplus income, which is used to finance activities that enable the organization to fulfil its social mission. Member Associations have been engaging in social enterprise for decades. Activities include sale of services, commodities, training and others. In 2017, a survey to map social enterprise among the Member Associations showed that, across IPPF, social enterprise activities contribute up to 24% of the total income in 54 Member Associations, between 25% - 49% in 11 Member Associations, 50% - 74% in 14 Member Associations, between 75% - 99% in 13 Member Associations and 100% in one Member Association. Eight Member Associations reported income of US$ 1 million and above from the sale of specialized health and clinical services whereas five Member Associations raised more than US$ 1 million from commodity sales. Read more in our report: in English; Spanish; Arabic or French.   In 2015, IPPF established the Social Enterprise Acceleration Programme (SEAP) aimed at strengthening the capacity of Member Associations to apply entrepreneurial best practices in the health sector while delivering social value and improving lives. SEAP has supported the establishment and growth of social enterprises of Member Associations with the following objectives:  Accelerate the development of Member Associations towards achieving financial sustainability and maximizing social impact. Provide Member Associations with high quality technical advice to support the effective development and delivery of sustainable sexual and reproductive health interventions through social enterprise. Share key insights and best practices within the Federation and provide access to external networks of support and market opportunities. The coordination of SEAP is currently carried out by the Social Enterprise Hub managed by the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka. The Social Enterprise Hub is responsible for SEAP’s grant management, enhancing awareness on social enterprising, project monitoring, capacity building, documentation of learnings and provision of technical assistance and training.  Watch our social enterprise video, get familiar with our social enterprise capability statement, read our 2018/2019 MA project stories and download our country-specific resources on providing effective technical guidance.  You can also get in touch by email if you have any queries or would like to know more information: [email protected]   

A couple affected by the floods in Sri Lanka

How attending workshops can help equip parents with the tools to talk about sex

Prijani and Chandana were forced to flee their home during the floods of May 2017 in Sri Lanka. They didn’t have time to take any belongings, so ran with their two small children. After the floods, they attended gender based violence training run by Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka, where they learned about child protection needs. “We weren’t informed that the floods were going to come, but when the water reached our knee level we knew we have to move. We just took the kids and left” says Prijani. “I was worried about two things: my kids, as we were staying at a camp in the school, and losing my house. I allowed a workshop run by Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka to be held in my garden as we had the most room. There I learnt a lot about child protection the teacher gave a lot of examples of child protection and what can go wrong. We learned about sexual violence that kids face from older people”. “One day, I saw my son masturbating and I asked him how he knew how to do that, and that’s when he told me about what happened at school. The workshop taught me to look out for these signs” says Chandana, who is planning to report the incident to the school when it re-opens. “I never thought the issue was that bad. Now, we are a lot more attentive to our kids”.   Stories Read more stories from Sri Lanka

Women at the clinic

Gender based violence training is helping families openly discuss violence prevention

Nimal* and her family were asleep when the floods came into their house on the 27 May 2017. She and her husband took their young children to safety upstairs. Since the floods, Nimal and her family attended the clinic set up by The Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka (FPA-SL), and received medical care and gender based violence training. This training to families enables them to openly talk about issues that can help provide a safer environment for themselves and their children. "We were all sleeping in this house when the flood came in the night," Nimal recalls. "When we woke up we were surrounded by four feet of water in the house. Our van and bicycle were damaged. We specifically constructed this house to be flood resistant, but this flood was higher even than that level. We took the children and mattresses upstairs to be safe." "We found out through word of mouth about the The Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka (FPA-SL) clinic. I went two to three days after the flood to the clinic, which was being held out of a temple. My children were treated there as they had a cold from the flooding. I was also treated as I kept fainting." "I attended the training on Gender Based Violence awareness with my husband, and learnt a lot about parenting adolescents, and how to prevent domestic violence between a husband and wife. For example, by avoiding alcohol and to openly discuss our problems. It’s good to have this knowledge before my children reach adolescent age so I am prepared." *names have been changed at the request of the interviewee  Stories Read more stories from Sri Lanka  

SPRINT
26 April 2022

SPRINT: Sexual and reproductive health in crisis and post-crisis situations

  The SPRINT Initiative provides one of the most important aspects of humanitarian assistance that is often forgotten when disaster and conflicts strike: access to essential life-saving sexual and reproductive health services. We build capacity of humanitarian workers to deliver essential life-saving sexual and reproductive health services in crisis and post-crisis situations through the delivery of the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for reproductive health in emergencies.   Through funding from the Australian Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), our SPRINT Initiative has brought sexual and reproductive health to the humanitarian agenda, increased capacity and responded to a number of humanitarian emergencies. Australia has funded the SPRINT initiative since 2007. Since then, the SPRINT initiative has responded to 105 humanitarian crises and worked with partners in 99 countries. SPRINT has reached over 1,138,175 people, delivering 2,133,141 crucial SRH services, and continues to respond to ongoing emergencies. In each priority country, we work with an IPPF Member Association to coordinate and implement life-saving sexual and reproductive activities. Through these partnerships, SPRINT helps strengthen the enabling environment, improve national capacity and provide lifesaving services during times of crisis. You can read more about IPPF Humanitarian’s Programme here. Australia's location in the Indo-Pacific provides DFAT with a unique perspective on humanitarian action. Australia is committed to helping partner governments manage crisis response themselves. This is done through building the capacity of the national government and civil society to be able to respond to disaster. DFAT also works with experienced international partners to prepare for and respond to disasters, including other donors, United Nations agencies, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and non-government organisations.          

Thushara Agus
30 April 2020

COVID-19 Impact: What we know so far – Sri Lanka

An interview with Thushara Agus, the Executive Director of the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka (FPASL), on the impact of COVID-19. How has Sri Lanka been affected by coronavirus/COVID-19?  Sri Lanka has recorded 596 positive cases and seven deaths so far, since its first case was recorded on 27 January. The country has been under an island-wide curfew since 17 March. These numbers are based on a very limited testing facility, and the country has enforced social distancing as a proactive measure because Sri Lanka’s healthcare sector has a limited capacity which would struggle with a large outbreak. What impact is coronavirus having when it comes to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services?  SRH services, both in the public and private sector, are heavily curtailed except for deliveries and pregnancy-related services. Most pharmacies are still open on a daily basis, so contraceptives can still be accessed. What impact has there been on abortion services and post-abortion care?  Providing women with the contraceptive injection (Depo-Provera) and other family planning (FP) methods that they need have been most affected. And abortion related-counselling and post-abortion care are non-existent.  Are frontline staff still able to go into the community?  Up until the third week of April all our clinics/service delivery points (SDP) were shut due to curfew under emergency conditions. Last week we commenced trainings for four SDPs on infection control for the service providers, and three of the four SDP clinics are open now on a schedule every week on a particular day per week, for a three-hour time slot. As of now only FP services are offered – all methods along with counseling and laboratory services are open in two SDPs with only essential testing being offered, such as routine testing for pregnant mothers, urine HCG testing, haemoglobin testing and glucose tolerance testing.   What will you be doing to keep providing services to people in Sri Lanka?  FPA Sri Lanka has activated a hotline call center called Happy Life to give directions for sexual and reproductive healthcare during this difficult period. It has also sent messages to all of our clients about ongoing family planning services through the available channels. Our contraceptives are available in over 5,000 pharmacies for the public to order and access. Happy Life stays geared to provide psychological and social support to clients throughout this period. Can you tell us about any innovative measures that have been introduced in Sri Lanka to provide services in a different way than usual?  FPASL have implemented a number of measures that include the following: Under the curfew FPASL provided 5,000 sanitary napkins to six quarantine centers run by the state for returning migrants, which includes a large number of Sri Lankan students who have been stranded overseas Provided 2,000 face masks to the birthing center staff of a leading maternity hospital Loaned 10,000 vials of Depo-Provera to the government agency for family planning, to continue services for poor and underserved Made a reallocation of The Global Fund grant savings of $350,000 to enable the government to procure safety garbs for COVID-19 treatment centers Going further, agreed to supply a substantial stock of contraceptives, condoms, pills and emergency contraceptive pills to neighbouring Maldives through UNFPA, to meet their urgent demand Awaiting to assess Sri Lanka’s gap on contraceptives to support the government, if our stocks permit Exploring the possibility of ordering contraceptives from our suppliers to replenish supplies in the event of production slowing down FPASL teamed up with a popular media channel (as a media partner) to launch an online counselling and information helpline for all SRH issues, mental health issues, sexual and gender-based violence etc. FPASL's Alokaya Counseling Center and Happy Life Unit (mainly for youth) have also been providing free online services on SRH information throughout this time. What message do you have for people and your staff in Sri Lanka when it comes to SRH services and coronavirus/COVID-19?  We have ensured that all staff members adopt safety and precautionary methods. When people are working from home we are encouraging them not to have any social contact. The one message widely disseminated is that one cannot neglect their general and sexual and reproductive health under these circumstances, and to access medicines and care through available means.

Sakuni with her dignity kit
25 June 2019

Delivering transgender dignity kits in a disaster

Sakuni is 36-year-old transgender woman from Sri Lanka. A transgender activist, she speaks passionately about the situation facing transgender people in Sri Lanka and her work with the National Transgender Network of Sri Lanka (NTNSL).  Sakuni was born with both male and female genitalia, but as her mother and father already had four daughters, her parents decided to raise her as a boy. But, “at the age of eight or nine, I felt like I am a girl. At the age of 11 or 12 I started to be attracted to boys at school”, she says.  She ‘came out’ to her family, who accepted Sakuni for who she was. “My family didn’t hide me away when I came out as transgender, they accepted me. My father has passed away, but my sisters and mother like to come visit me and like going places with me.”  “I am happy as a transgender person because my family loves me, but the other transgender people face many problems from their family,’” she says. “They cut their hair and force them to change their clothes and cut their nails. They don’t allow them to wear makeup or shave.”  Being able to shave is an integral part of being a transgender woman. Which is why during disasters, such as the severe flooding Sri Lanka experiences on a yearly basis, it’s important for transgender people to have access to razors.  A timely idea  Just before the October 2018 floods, Sakuni had been attending training at IPPF’s Member Association, the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka (FPASL). It was there she came up with the idea to ask for some dignity kits to distribute to the transgender community in her area.  “At that awareness program, I learnt that FPASL supports transgender people during disasters. FPASL is the only organisation that talks about transgender people. I had this idea, if I can do something for transgender people by requesting dignity kits for them, then the awareness program is completed.”  These kits include items such as underwear, sanitary napkins, soap, toothbrushes, and towels, and are intended to help restore women's dignity and increase their mobility during crisis situations. Furthermore, the buckets that contain these items can double up as water containers.  NTNSL has long-standing ties with community-based organisations in these districts and transgender persons can be considered extremely vulnerable in crises sometimes not feeling safe or not being able to enter temporary shelters. They are also sometimes being excluded from distributions given that the gender marker on their identification form does not match their gender identity and appearance. It can be difficult to access these kits, or even if they do, the items are not designed with the transgender woman in mind. FPASL had specifically designed kits to be transgender-friendly.    “I distributed the kits myself. They were hugging me, they worshipped me for distributing those kits. It was really emotional for me. When I received the kits and saw what was inside, I wanted to protect the items as a souvenir. But of course, I used them! The items included things we have never got before as a transgender person. Receiving something like this for us makes us very happy. I feel like it’s a gift for us because normally we don’t get anything from any party as a transgender person.”  Discrimination in aid Transgender people are often unable to access humanitarian aid in emergencies due to discrimination. In Sakuni’s case, it was the lack of the right National Identification Card which prevented her and her friends from accessing aid. “We [the transgender community] weren’t registered in this area. So we couldn’t get any other food or aid. We are transgender so we selected this area to live so we are near to each other. We can’t just go anywhere; we have to stay in certain areas. This area is good for transgender people because it’s not crowded and we are used to this area, and the people are used to us. They don’t laugh at us.  But in other areas, we have problems.”  Because their ID cards didn’t match the location they were staying in, Sakuni and others were unable to receive aid. This is where most transgender persons in Sri Lanka face a huge obstacle, as their assigned gender at birth that is reflected on their National Identification Card does not match their real gender. If they queue up in the male line, the men shout at them. “So we just don’t vote”, she said.  Change is coming In Sri Lanka, changes are coming slowly. Sakuni says that, besides changes in attitude needed in the general public, it is also important that the Government reflect the LGBTI community. “Can’t a transgender person be in the parliament to represent our community, so our voice is there? I would like to go to parliament one day for my transgender community. I would ensure all transgender people can get the National Identification Card and voting rights.” National governments have their part to play, but the humanitarian community can do their part by incorporating transgender-friendly services in emergency responses. Last year, IPPF hosted the first ever Pride in the Humanitarian System consultation, which brought together hundreds of LGBTI+ activists to steps that can be taken in humanitarian emergencies to ensure our responses are more LGBTI+ inclusive.  The findings from this consultation were clear: understanding the needs of LGBTI+ people is critical to address the inequalities experienced during preparedness, response and recovery. Our trans-friendly dignity kits for Sakuni and her community are just a small step towards a much bigger goal. All actors in the humanitarian system must be mutually committed, responsible, and accountable to LGBTI+ people. It is only when we work together that we will achieve a just and equal response to humanitarian crises.   

International Women's Day
04 March 2019

Celebrating passion and commitment this International Women’s Day

International Women's Day (8 March) is a time to celebrate the incredible achievements of fearless women around the world. Today (and every day) we’re honored to highlight the passion and continued commitment of doctors, nurses, peer educators, activists and volunteers who dedicate their efforts to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights globally. These are just a few of them:  Chathurika Jayalath, youth volunteer, Sri Lanka In May 2017, flash flooding in Sri Lanka triggered landslides resulting in many people losing their homes and forcing them to seek emergency shelter. 24-year-old student Chathurika, a youth volunteer for IPPF’s Member Association the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka (FPASL), took part in the response. She helped in organizing the health camps, and she even runs a youth club at her university to inform her peers about sexual health. Find out more about Chathurika inspiring community contributions   Emma Watson, actor & activist, UK For almost as long as she’s been in the spotlight, actor Emma Watson has been well known for her feminist activism. Over the years she has lent her support to many vital issues including ending child marriage, violence against women and female genital mutilation, as well as fighting for abortion care and LGBTQI rights. She’s also a partner to IPPF! Keep up with Emma’s important work by following her on Twitter now Vicky Acora, volunteer, Uganda  Vicky is a married mother-of-two. She faces all the usual challenges that women face when it comes to getting sexual and reproductive health services - but Vicky’s life is complicated further because she is deaf. In the past, she would have trouble communicating with health staff who did not understand her needs, but since seeking services at Reproductive Health Uganda’s clinic in Gulu (a Member Association of IPPF), she has been able to get the healthcare she needs. She has since then even been advising other deaf people to seek services with the clinic. Read more about Vicky’s experience   Dr Leana Wen, president of PPFA, USA IPPF was thrilled when Dr Leana Wen was appointed as President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America last year. She is a dynamic public health leader, a practising physician and not least, a formidable woman. Since she started her demanding role, she has helped Planned Parenthood continue to provide high-quality care to the people who need it across the United States, and she is a powerful voice in our fight to ensure that women have the ability to make their own healthcare decisions. We look forward to seeing what she will achieve next. If you do too, then follow Dr Wen on Twitter Abla Abassa, health worker, Togo Abla is a community health worker. She spends her days cycling around her home village’s dusty streets in rural Togo visiting households who have signed up to an innovative programme that provides contraception in hard-to-reach places. She might visit as many as five households in one day, where she’ll discuss and provide family options including the Pill, condoms and injection, with people who might otherwise not know what their choices are. Find out more about what her vital job entails  

Ratnapura District of Sri Lanka
27 February 2019

Fighting for safe abortion access in Sri Lanka

“I’ve met many women who were forced to have abortions, and one that stands out is a woman who had gone abroad to work and was raped by the husband in the family for which she worked… she had to come back to Sri Lanka and get an unsafe, backstreet abortion.”  – Sonali Gunaseka, Director of Advocacy at the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka In Sri Lanka, abortion is so severely restricted that people who cannot afford high-quality services, either in the country or else abroad, are forced to risk their lives to get the procedure done in unsafe conditions, or are forced through a pregnancy that they cannot afford, manage, or do not want.  Sonali Gunasekera, Director of Advocacy at the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka (IPPF’s partner organisation in the country) has been working to change people’s hearts and minds there regarding abortion access. She wants women to decide what happens to their bodies, and to have control over their own futures. She wants to prevent people being forced to risk their lives by receiving this form of healthcare in unsafe, backstreet conditions.  We spoke with Sonali (pictured below) about access to this vital healthcare service and the impact it has.  IPPF: Can you tell us about the context of abortion in Sri Lanka?  Sonali: Sri Lanka has one of the strictest abortion laws in the world, which stipulates that abortion is illegal unless the life of the mother is at risk. You must have three doctors’ signatures to agree to this; if not, the abortion is not permitted.  Right now, you cannot have an abortion in cases of rape, incest or foetal deformities; but there is some movement to change the law to allow abortion in these cases, which is good. There has been a lot of resistance to this movement, and it is important to bear in mind that even if it does go through, it will be a small change that won’t affect most women who seek access to abortion. This is because they are usually women over 35 years old, who already have two children and do not fall within any of the categories mentioned above.  IPPF: How does this affect people who are pregnant and don’t want to be, for whatever reason?  Sonali: If you are of the upper-middle class in Sri Lanka, you can go to certain private hospitals and pay for the service. But, if you don’t have the money, you will be unable to access this service and due to a lack of officially regulated information, it is often the case that you will hear about places and procedures by word-of-mouth. These places can be unhygienic, or else the provider could be unskilled. The woman may not be given pain relief, so it can be quite a horrible experience for her, as has been related to me by women that I have interviewed regarding their experiences. Although Sri Lanka’s maternal mortality rate is low, unsafe abortions and their consequences account for a high proportion of the deaths that do occur, and the mortality rate for abortion stands at about 15%. We can legally access post-abortion care, but there’s a lot of stigma around it, so a woman who seeks medical help may be asked all sorts of questions that make them feel judged or afraid of possible consequences. Questions can include things like “How did this happen?” “Why did you go for an abortion?” “Did you not know this is illegal in the country?” So, the women who aren’t deterred by this and do seek help may not disclose that they’ve had an abortion, which means that they may not get the right care.  IPPF: Around the world – where it’s legal to have an abortion under these strict circumstances – we’ve seen people dying because it’s difficult to get multiple doctors or lawmakers to agree that these circumstances happened. So what does this possible new law mean for women and girls in Sri Lanka in practical terms?    Sonali: About 1% or less seek abortions for incest, rape and foetal deformities. The law is so strict that it requires that you get multiple doctors or a judicial medical officer to give their signature. But doctors will only sign it off if they have absolute proof of rape, incest or foetal abnormality; this makes sign off difficult as the medics could go to prison themselves for allowing the abortion. With rape, it can take our legal system about 20 years before a rape case is finally proved. So, when someone needs to prove rape in a matter of weeks in order to get an abortion, I’m not sure this will be possible.  It makes me feel quite angry that these men who put these women through so much trauma have impunity and that they are not prosecuted. The women must prove beyond any doubt that all these things happened; they must go to the judicial medical officials and show their underwear as proof; they must take tests to prove that the hymen has been perforated; all these procedures that are invasive and re-traumatizing because there exists so much doubt and bureaucracy for victim-survivors. It’s just very skewed and unfair; as a gender issue, it is something that I feel very strongly needs to change. IPPF: What’s your experience of the psychological impact of how women are treated when they seek help?  Sonali: The experience can be traumatic. I have spoken with women who have said that they receive rude treatment from nurses and also doctors in hospitals. Their self-esteem goes down a lot when they are shouted at and treated like criminals. They may feel isolated and scared and alone because there is stigma around pre-marital sex or sex out of wedlock, so women may feel ashamed and not reach out to a support system, if at all one exists for them. Seeking a source of help and medical intervention itself can be difficult and stressful.  There is a lot of discrimination throughout this process. It’s a gender issue, as if it is the case of a relationship, men do not necessarily have to go through any of this stigma, self-esteem issues, or deal with rude doctors or nurses.  IPPF: How can we change things?   Sonali: Looking at Ireland’s situation, I feel as though having people out on the street protesting and showing their support did a lot. I have so much respect for people who mobilize like this. In Sri Lanka, I think we’ve got to mobilize the public, because if you keep it in the hands of parliamentarians and religious leaders, there is no way the restrictive law and all the negative consequences that come with it are going to change. Contrary to the popular argument, it’s not even Sri Lankan culture, but rather British Victorian values and laws that criminalize women.  I think we need to work with women who are understanding and who would be willing to think of their daughters and others close to them who could face similar situations. In the past month in Sri Lanka, I’ve seen a lot of young people coming to the streets and saying: “It is important to take our views into account; the voices of our generation.” So, we need to create mass attitudinal changes through media, and also through innovative ways like street dramas and other ways of working with young people. Do you believe every woman and girl around the world has the human right to decide what happens to their body? Then add your voice to our I Decide campaign.

Woman
01 November 2018

“I was faced with a forced pregnancy. I was a victim of the law.” – Dayani’s story

This account was told by Dayani* to Youth Action Network Sri Lanka, and contains details of sexual assault that some may find upsetting.  I was separated from my parents in India when I was small and so came to live with my grandparents in Sri Lanka. As soon as I turned 18 and left school, they wanted to marry me off. I didn’t want to marry at such a young age. I was young and I had dreams – I wanted to work, to study, to really live my life before becoming a wife. I didn’t see any other option that to leave my grandparents, and I moved to Colombo to seek the life I wanted. I was alone and making a fresh start. I was lucky to find a job soon and it paid well enough to allow me to continue my studies and live. I was boarding with a friend and I was feeling good.  As a part of my work, I had to attend an event. That was when I first met R. R happened to be a friend of a friend, so I met him on multiple occasions and he was clearly interested in me, yet I took my time and did not give him any indication of interest or commitment. After spending time together, my interest and affection for him began to grow and eventually developed into more intense feelings of love.  He planned the whole thing One day, we went to the beach together. We were teasing and pushing each other by the water, and I got wet by the waves. I was not in a position to travel on public transport with wet clothes and I told him I needed to change. We went to a shop to get some clothes and then we had to think of a place to get changed. He said he knew a place and he took me to a place where there were rooms. He got access to a room – we didn’t even have to show our identity – and it became clear to me that he had been here before as the staff seemed to know him. When I went inside the room, I asked him to wait outside, as I would finish dressing soon and meet him after. He didn’t listen to me. He overrode my wishes, and raped me. I realized now that he had planned the whole thing. Almost everything. From the beginning.  It took me a few months of not having my period to realise that I was pregnant. I was almost four months into it. I felt absolutely helpless and I didn’t know what to do. I was raped and I didn’t want to go through with this pregnancy. I wasn’t ready, I was in the city alone, and I was in no condition to support myself. Alone, depressed, devastated I contacted R and he told me he would get me the pills for a medical abortion. I somehow got the money together and gave it to him for the pills, but he disappeared with the money. Then I sold a gold chain I had to make the money to try for the pills again, yet going through this medical abortion did not work. I was alone, depressed, and devastated.  We are working to ensure no one goes through a horrifying ordeal like this again. IPPF, directly and through its hosted Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) partners, delivers a range of abortion related services, including pre- and post-abortion counselling, surgical and medical abortion, and treatment for incomplete abortion. Masitula, a mother-of-two and sex worker from Uganda is one of those who have benefited from this support through SAAF – read her story now. In 2017, IPPF projects averted 1.7 million unsafe abortions, and we delivered nearly 5 million abortion-related services globally. Play your part by joining I Decide, IPPF’s movement fighting for safe abortion access for all. Through a network of contacts, I finally found a place where I would be able to terminate my pregnancy. It was extremely costly and I had to ask for help not just from friends but also from strangers because I could not afford it myself. I was scared, feeling insecure about my life and my safety, yet I didn’t feel as though I had any alternative but to go ahead with a potentially life-threatening procedure.  I experienced many physical complications following this. Additionally, I was tackling the mental strain of feeling hatred towards R and what he had done to me. I would see him leading his normal and comfortable life amidst all my pain. I was going through trauma and there were times when I wanted to end my life. To end it all.  No faith left I didn’t want to share my story with anyone because people would judge me. They would blame me for putting myself in this condition – for leaving my grandparents, for not agreeing to the marriage, for living alone in Colombo, for having a boyfriend, for wearing the clothes I wore, for being raped, and for undergoing an abortion. My family, society, culture, religion, legal setting, the patriarchy and the oppression has made me feel as though I am the perpetrator. I don’t have faith in life, love or people. It will take me years to trust a man again and to forget what happened to me. Honestly, I don’t know whether I will be able to ever forget what I went through. I was raped and I was in no condition to report it. I was faced with a forced pregnancy. I was a victim of the law. *Dayani's name has been changed to protect her identity.

Chathurika, Sri Lanka

Inspiring young people like Chathurika play a crucial role in crisis response

In May 2017, flash flooding in Sri Lanka triggered landslides resulting in many people losing their homes, forcing them to seek shelter in camps. IPPF’s member association the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka (FPASL) assisted those affected and provided health camps with the support of IPPF Humanitarian. Chathurika Jayalath, a youth volunteer for FPASL, took part in the response. Chathurika is a 24-year-old student from Kegalle, a large town about 80 km from Colombo, and she has been working with FPASL for the last three years. She started out as a youth volunteer and recently became a member of the Youth Technical Advisory Committee. During her engagement with FPASL, Chathurika has learned about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and gender issues and has organized workshops on similar topics in her own community. In fact, she runs a youth club at her university to inform her peers about SRHR.  Shortly after the floods began, Chathurika received a WhatsApp message from FPASL where they called for youth volunteers to take part in the response.  “I wanted to volunteer during the response,” Chathurika told us. “As a university student I didn’t have money to donate so I figured I could contribute with my strength instead. I volunteered in the health camp. There, I assisted the medical staff with basic things such mobilizing affected people, making sure they queued up when seeking health care and packed medicine.” Ongoing SRHR needs, even in a crisis Chathurika is keen to learn more about humanitarian work. She received training with FPASL on the needs of people in humanitarian settings in which she and other trainees were presented with different case studies. “There was particularly one story that struck me. We were told that when the flash floods came, women fled without anything, they fled with the only pair of clothes they were wearing,” recalls Chathurika. “When they reached the camp, they received donated water and food. Some of them got their period while living in the camp. They did not have any sanitary pads nor additional cloths. Some of them even fled without underwear. This story made me realize that people’s SRHR needs don’t disappear just because there is a crisis.” Youth empowerment is important to Chathurika and she would like to continue this work while learning more about development and humanitarian work. She is a firm believer “that young people can contribute. Through my own experience I have seen that it is possible.”   

Social Enterprise
11 July 2018

Social Enterprise Acceleration Programme

IPPF is committed to supporting Member Associations to develop social enterprise activities for the purpose of generating income, diversifying funding sources and, ultimately, achieving organizational and financial sustainability. IPPF understands social enterprise as using entrepreneurial methods to generate a surplus income, which is used to finance activities that enable the organization to fulfil its social mission. Member Associations have been engaging in social enterprise for decades. Activities include sale of services, commodities, training and others. In 2017, a survey to map social enterprise among the Member Associations showed that, across IPPF, social enterprise activities contribute up to 24% of the total income in 54 Member Associations, between 25% - 49% in 11 Member Associations, 50% - 74% in 14 Member Associations, between 75% - 99% in 13 Member Associations and 100% in one Member Association. Eight Member Associations reported income of US$ 1 million and above from the sale of specialized health and clinical services whereas five Member Associations raised more than US$ 1 million from commodity sales. Read more in our report: in English; Spanish; Arabic or French.   In 2015, IPPF established the Social Enterprise Acceleration Programme (SEAP) aimed at strengthening the capacity of Member Associations to apply entrepreneurial best practices in the health sector while delivering social value and improving lives. SEAP has supported the establishment and growth of social enterprises of Member Associations with the following objectives:  Accelerate the development of Member Associations towards achieving financial sustainability and maximizing social impact. Provide Member Associations with high quality technical advice to support the effective development and delivery of sustainable sexual and reproductive health interventions through social enterprise. Share key insights and best practices within the Federation and provide access to external networks of support and market opportunities. The coordination of SEAP is currently carried out by the Social Enterprise Hub managed by the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka. The Social Enterprise Hub is responsible for SEAP’s grant management, enhancing awareness on social enterprising, project monitoring, capacity building, documentation of learnings and provision of technical assistance and training.  Watch our social enterprise video, get familiar with our social enterprise capability statement, read our 2018/2019 MA project stories and download our country-specific resources on providing effective technical guidance.  You can also get in touch by email if you have any queries or would like to know more information: [email protected]   

A couple affected by the floods in Sri Lanka

How attending workshops can help equip parents with the tools to talk about sex

Prijani and Chandana were forced to flee their home during the floods of May 2017 in Sri Lanka. They didn’t have time to take any belongings, so ran with their two small children. After the floods, they attended gender based violence training run by Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka, where they learned about child protection needs. “We weren’t informed that the floods were going to come, but when the water reached our knee level we knew we have to move. We just took the kids and left” says Prijani. “I was worried about two things: my kids, as we were staying at a camp in the school, and losing my house. I allowed a workshop run by Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka to be held in my garden as we had the most room. There I learnt a lot about child protection the teacher gave a lot of examples of child protection and what can go wrong. We learned about sexual violence that kids face from older people”. “One day, I saw my son masturbating and I asked him how he knew how to do that, and that’s when he told me about what happened at school. The workshop taught me to look out for these signs” says Chandana, who is planning to report the incident to the school when it re-opens. “I never thought the issue was that bad. Now, we are a lot more attentive to our kids”.   Stories Read more stories from Sri Lanka

Women at the clinic

Gender based violence training is helping families openly discuss violence prevention

Nimal* and her family were asleep when the floods came into their house on the 27 May 2017. She and her husband took their young children to safety upstairs. Since the floods, Nimal and her family attended the clinic set up by The Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka (FPA-SL), and received medical care and gender based violence training. This training to families enables them to openly talk about issues that can help provide a safer environment for themselves and their children. "We were all sleeping in this house when the flood came in the night," Nimal recalls. "When we woke up we were surrounded by four feet of water in the house. Our van and bicycle were damaged. We specifically constructed this house to be flood resistant, but this flood was higher even than that level. We took the children and mattresses upstairs to be safe." "We found out through word of mouth about the The Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka (FPA-SL) clinic. I went two to three days after the flood to the clinic, which was being held out of a temple. My children were treated there as they had a cold from the flooding. I was also treated as I kept fainting." "I attended the training on Gender Based Violence awareness with my husband, and learnt a lot about parenting adolescents, and how to prevent domestic violence between a husband and wife. For example, by avoiding alcohol and to openly discuss our problems. It’s good to have this knowledge before my children reach adolescent age so I am prepared." *names have been changed at the request of the interviewee  Stories Read more stories from Sri Lanka