ISD capacitated Sri Lankan Civil Society organizations on In-Country Documentation and Archiving
Documentation of human rights violations holds an important role in creating a just society. Following 30 years of protracted conflict, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have taken several efforts in documenting human rights violations. In order to ensure justice, it is paramount that the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have necessary skills in documentation of right violation issues.
Identifying this imperative need, The ISD’s project on “Building Local Capacity for Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka” which is funded by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience launched its first field program in April 2017.
As the initial step, a 5-day residential workshop on In-Country Documentation and Archiving was held from 6th to 10th April 2017 in Batticaloa.
23 Participants (11 Female: 12 Male) along with 6 ISD officers participated for this workshop. These participants consisted of 17 prominent Civil Society Organizations (CSO) across the country who are members of the Truth and Reconciliation Forum (TRF) which was promoted by the ISD.
The workshop focused on
- Specific documentation skills needed by the CSOs
- Ways to build trust within community
- Oral history collection as a tool for truth seeking
- Skills on data collection, preservation and sharing
- The documenter’s own security at the field, security of the witnesses & victims and security of the collected information
- Secure storage options
- Ethical consideration in documentation
- Re- traumatization and psychosocial support
- The coping capacity of the documenters and trauma management
The resource persons for the training was from International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. Transitional Justice initiatives of Colombia, Serbia, South Sudan and South Africa were discussed during the workshop. This made participants open up with country-specific and region-specific problems and challenges.
ISD Celebrates 25 Years of Excellence in Social Change
“A journey of thousand miles begins with a single step” Institute of Social development (ISD) celebrated its 25th anniversary on 13th December 2016 at Hotel Kandyan Arts Residency.
Mr. P.P Deveraj, the former State Minister for Hindu Religious Affairs who continues to work closely with ISD for decades was the guest of honor for this occasion. Invitees included academics, board of directors, former staff, ISD’s Consultants, members of Women/ Community Based Organizations (W/CBOs), Rural Development Societies (RDSs) promoted by ISD, Working Women’s Front (WWF) and supporters who were part and parcel of the journey.
The occasion became vibrant with guest speeches, cultural items, well-wishes and video documentary on the milestones of the journey. On this occasion, ISD did not forget to appreciate CBO and WWF members for their outstanding committment towards the wellbeing of the plantation community in the fields of development, social service, infrastructure, livelihood and WWF members for defending and safeguarding labour rights of the women workers.
Introductory Workshop for Truth & Reconciliation Forum (TRF)
Truth and Reconciliation Forum (TRF); a newly formed coalition of CSOs to execute its role as an advocacy and monitoring body to take the mandate of the transitional justice process initiated by the government held an introductory workshop in Colombo on 20th November, 2016. This forum is formed as a result of series of consultations and the needs assessments that were carried out by the ICSC and ISD since November 2015 in different provinces which focused on identifying the needs in Sri Lanka with regard to the on-going transitional justice process. Followed by the workshop, official launch of the TRF took place with a leaflet campaign and press-brief. Further, TRF focal persons met Mr. Mano Thittawela; the director general of Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanism (SCRM). The participants for this workshop were from districts of Jaffna, Vavuniya, Batticoloa, Mannar, Kilinochchi, Trincomalee, Badulla, Monaragala, Matale, Kandy, Hatton, Kaluthara, Pollonnaruwa, Horrowpatana, Nuwara Eliya, Galle, Matara, Kurunagala, Rathnapura, Puttalam and Colombo representing all three ethnic communities.
ISD host 2016 Asian Sites of Conscience Regional Workshop...
The Asian regional workshop of the International Coalition for Sites of Conscience (ICSC) was held in Kandy, Sri Lanka from 19th -21st September, 2016. The workshop aimed to review the transitional justice (TJ) process with Project Support Fund grantees and to take initiatives for new projects especially concerning the women’s role in the peace process in the Asian region. The delegates from four countries including Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan who are engaged in the peace building process attended the workshop to share the experience in their country while war- survivors from Mannar, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi & Vauniya who were part and parcel of the last phase of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka took part in the discussions to give an overview of the post- war transition period. Local partners including research organizations, CSOs and social activists were also among the participants of the workshop.
Global Initiative for Justice, Truth + Reconciliation- Lesson Learnt Workshops
Institute of Social Development in collaboration with International Coalition for Sites of Conscience conducted series of island wide workshops in Colombo, Trincomalee and Batticaloa inviting the international delegates, local task force members, good governance and transitional justice activists, Journalists and other intellectuals to share their experience on transitional justice from South Africa, Guatemala, Peru, Rwanda, Balkans and Sierra. The best practices on transitional justice to Sri Lankan peace building process was one of the focal topics of the discussions.
Gender & Youth Workshops
ISD has always considered youth as a crucial focus group to work with and continue to conduct various programs to raise awareness on different thematic areas. Series of Gender & Youth workshops were held in the month of June in Nuwara Eliya to raise awareness on gender, bodily rights and career guidance for girls & boys. The focus group included schooling children, drop-out students and youngsters representing different youth clubs and societies.
Altogether, 3 Workshops were held on the 11th June 2016 in District Secretariat, Nuwara Eliya, and 25th June 2016 at Xavier College, Nuwara Eliya and 28th June FRISTRO Child development center where ISD staff was able to reach nearly 400 youngsters in Nuwara Eliya District and educate them on gender, bodily rights and provide necessary career guidance in partnership with Vocational Training Authority (VTA), Nuwara Eliya. Many youngsters got the opportunity to apply and enroll for various VTA vocational trainings as a result of the workshops.
Consultation on the prevailing issues of the plantation sector to prepare a policy document – 13.06.2016
ISD organized a consultation discussion in Hatton inviting the plantation politicians, civil society organizations, intellectuals and experts to prepare a policy document on the major issues prevailing in plantation sector in order to use as a policy guide for future lobbying and strategic purposes. Major issues concerning youth, education, poverty, health, housing and land rights were discussed on this occasion. This policy document will be prepared in coming months. The discussion was facilitated by the executive director; Periyasamy Muthulingam, a researcher, Balasingham Skanthakumar and Ramesh Nanthakumar.
ISD Staff enhanced their knowledge on Transitional Justice…………
The term “Transitional justice” has been gaining momentum in Sri Lanka’s post-war political discourse; particularly at this juncture, with the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) having agreed to undertake certain transitional justice measures at the 30th United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session. Even though this concept is novel to the local context, transitional justice has been practiced in many countries affected by war to prevent recurrence of future human violations.
International and Local Non-Governmental Organizations also have been keen to work on this regard as it is a pivotal focus area. Under this context, Institute of Social Development (ISD) initiated a dialogue on Transitional Justice with war affected family members in collaboration with the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience from Dec 2015 – March 2016 during which ISD identified the need of building capacity of the staff members on the thematic area in order to carry out advocacy programs.
Meantime, ISD entered into 9 month’s pilot project in partnership with SPICE International funded by Management System International to work with the war-effected individuals specially focusing on Hill-country Tamil community on transitional justice thereby coming together to discuss how to address the past, and how to move forward in the process of nation building.
An orientation discussion was held on 16.05.16 in Devon Restaurant, Kandy to introduce this new focus area and to build capacity among the staff on transitional Justice. Mr. P. Muthulingam, executive director of the organization facilitated the workshop where the concept was addressed under four main pillars namely Truth seeking, Prosecution, Reconciliation and Reparation and historical background of transitional justice citing the past examples from all around the world.
Working Women's Front observes International Labour Day -2016
International Labour Day is also known as the International Worker’s Day and May Day which is celebrated on international level to mark the accomplishments of workers & to promote and encourage the international labour associations. Observation of May Day every year on 1st of May has become a historic significance all over the world and celebrated by the Labor unions worldwide.
As every year, Working Women’s Front (WWF) union observed this year’s May Day at the Department of Labour, Kandy with the participation of over 150 members. Speeches by union members, executive director of ISD made the occasion vibrant. The speeches mainly addressed issues of women workers in the unorganized & informal employments such as minimum wage, poor working standards, excessive working hours, lack of job security etc. Further, the importance of getting organized as a trade union to bargain for due rights was also focused in this occasion.
"From memory to Action" -Workshop on Transitional Justice
Institute of Social Development together with the International Coalition for Sites of Conscience conducted a two-day residential workshop and discussion in Trincomalee and Vavuniya with the communities who are extensively been affected by the conflict. The workshops were held on 27th and 28th February in Trincomalee and on 02nd and 3rd March Vavuniya, 2016. The participants included the victims of war, government officials, civil society organization representatives and other non-governmental organization representatives in the area.
The transitional Justice experiences from Nepal Liberia, Lebanon, Kenya, Syria were shared with the participants by national and international experts. This was followed by several activites in which memorialization was done, participants viewing the stories of women affected by war in different parts of the country, reflecting the similarity and then a video documentary titled ‘Mother Stories’.
The director ISD also stressed the importance of the fourth pillar of transitional justice which is constitutional reform and also said that transitional justice has to involve the participation of the affected community which the ISD has initiated to take forward”
Orientation Discussion on Promoting Women Candidates in Elections – 27.03.2016
“Women in every part of the world continue to be largely marginalized from the political sphere, often as a result of discriminatory laws, practices, attitudes and gender stereotypes, low levels of education, lack of access to health care and the disproportionate effect of poverty on women.” (2011 UN General Assembly resolution on women’s political participation) Taking this global reality into concern, the government of Sri Lanka decided to take measures to increase women representation in national and local government last year. Accordingly, Sri Lanka's new administration promised to allocate 25% quota for women in provincial councils and local government institutions.
Working Women’s Front; ISD’s women’s wing has always been observant on empowerment and emancipation of women. Taking this favorable condition as opportunity to promote women leaders at the grass-root, Working Women’s Front held an orientation discussion for 26 grass- root level women leaders who are hoping to take part in the local elections next year on 27th March 2016 at the Labour Department auditorium, Kandy. Our executive director, Mr. P. Muthulingam and Ms. Gowry Palaniappan; one of the board of directors of the organization also participated in this event. Read news article>>>
Workshop on WRDS Formation & Management 06.02.2016-07.02.2016
The year 2016 began with the objective of converting existing Women/ Community Based Organization (W/CBO) to Women/ Rural Development Societies (W/RDS) in the ISD working areas. Under the project “Strengthening the citizenry leadership among plantation community by emphasizing women’s leadership”, a residential workshop was held on 6th & 7th of February 2016 at Newton Gunasinghe Training Center, Pussellawa to educate executive members of 08 Women CBOs on importance of RDS formation and its benefits, registering process and RDS management. To address the gathering, Rural Development Officer (RDO) of Uda Palatha attended the workshop.
International Tea Day 15-12-2015
International Tea Day is observed every year on December 15 since 2005 by the tea producing countries with the hope of promoting tea industry and to draw global attention of governments and citizens to the impact of the global tea trade on workers and growers and the crisis of the plantation community.
Institute of Social Development (ISD) in partnership with Plantation Sector Social Forum (PSSF) observed the 9th International Tea Day this year in Hatton. As a civil society organization, Institute of Social Development (ISD) has been advocating for the rights to Housing of the Plantation community since its inception to the present. In observing International Tea Day this year, ISD focused on the housing rights of the plantation community. Under the theme of “Adequate and affordable Shelter for all”, outcomes of the recently conducted research on housing rights of the plantation community and gain the ownership of houses were shared with the audience. Further, the publication of “Gain the ownership of Newly Built Houses” was launched on this occasion.
Discussion on ‘Gazette Notification on Delimitation of the Local Authorities’
A meeting was summoned on 10th of December 2015 inviting the leaders of the political parties of the Indian Origin Tamil community, intellectual, academics and civil society members in order to appraise the gazette notification on delimitation. The delimitation was proposed in order to ensure ethnic representation and population. However, during the discussion it was identified that the proposed delimitation criteria did not meet the Indian origin Tamil community’s due representation.
In the discussion, it was further identified that the gazette delimitation did not work out properly in order to ensure the Indian Origin/ hill country Tamil community’s representation taking into consideration of population and land extent. In this context, the political parties of Tamil Progressive Alliance requested ISD to do a thorough study on this gazette delimitation and requested to submit an alternative proposal to the delimitation committee.
The ISD created a team of five members under the leadership of P.Muthulingam comprised of 3 lecturers from the Department of Political Science, University of Peradeniya namely; Mr. S. Vijesandiran; senior lecturer, R. Ramesh; a lecturer, former Assistant lecturer; D. Umadevi and ISD project manager, R. Nanthakumar. The team held number of discussions with the local political representatives and community based organizational leaders of Colombo, Gampaha, kandy, Matale, Badulla, Monaragala Awissawella, Rthnapura, Kegalle and Puttlam. Following the discussions, the group analyzed the Gazette delimitation proposal based on the population density and land extent.
While analyzing, it was identified the need of creating new “Grama Wasama” in Nuwara Eliya district and other districts where the hill country Tamil live predominantly. The team has proposed new single wards and multi wards in addition to the gazette wards. Further, it had identified the imperative need of creating minimum of thirteen Divisional Secretariats and Pradeshiya Sabhas in Nuwara Eliya district considering the aforementioned geographical features.
The study team submitted the proposal to Delimitation committee’s appraisal through Tamil Progressive Alliance to revisit the gazette delimitation and revised delimitation formula to ensure the historically excluded Indian origin Tamil community to enjoy the political representation and citizen’s rights.
Workshop on Gender, Women's Rights & Labour Rights for Working Women's Front Trade Union Members
In all parts of the world, majority of women workers face inequality and discrimination because they are women, and by virtue of being women they are considered inferior bearers of labour. Women’s labour contribution in unorganized sector today has enormously increased due to the increasing demand in the labour market. However, the skills women bring to the workplace are often not valued and they are classified as unskilled workers. As a result most women workers are paid low wages for their labour.
Numerous institutional and regional instruments have drawn attention to gender- related dimensions of human rights issues in order to end all forms of discrimination against women. Specially, employees should be made aware of their rights and state should be accountable to create Just and Favorable Working Conditions vis-à-vis the content of the guarantee with regards to remuneration across three dimensions---equality and non-discrimination conditions of work and pay, and fair wages, and a decent living for themselves and their families.
With the intention of educating WWF trade union members on labour rights & to link them with government officials such labour department for further assistance, workshops for trade union members was organized in order to empower the members and to strengthen the solidarity among the trade union members.
Workshop on Gender, Bodily Rights and Career Guidance for Youth 27-10-2015
“Youth”, is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood independence. As a category, youth is more fluid than other fixed age-groups. Yet, age is the easiest way to define this group. Particularly, in relation to education and employment, “youth” is often referred to a person between the ages of leaving compulsory education, and finding their first job.
In the plantation sector, due to financial difficulties most youngsters drop out from school soon after O/L examinations and join the unskilled labour force as it is very much demanded in the unorganized and informal sector. Due to lack of understanding, social and environmental conditions, these youngsters make very little effort to continue their higher studies and improve their skills.
During this period of transition, it is essential to guide them in the right path in order to make right choices that affect their future. Having taken this objective in to consideration, Working Women’s Front organized a gender & youth workshop on 27th of October 2015 at Aishwarya Reception Hall, Nawalapitiya to educate plantation sector youth on child rights, gender and career guidance.
UTZ Stake Holders Meeting 2015
UTZ Tea stakeholders meeting 2015 was held at Hotel Waters Edge, Colombo on 10th July 2015 under the patronage of Hon. minister Palani Diganbaram, Ministry of Plantation Infrastructure Development. The event was organized by “promoting a decent work environment in the sri lankan tea sector through UTZ certification project”.
The purpose of this event was to celebrate ISD’s efforts in promoting decent working environment and tea sustainability which resulted in obtaining UTZ tea certification to Udardelle and Nuwara Eliya Estates.
Leading tea producing companies, brokers, buyers, bulking and packaging companies, exporters, tea small holders, government, non- government organizations, reseachers, and donors were among the participants of the event.
All stakeholders discussed the necessity of reaching nontraditional global market with high quality value added tea while ensuring better working conditions in the industry.
International May Day- 2015
May Day Program was held successfully with the participation of nearly 100 Trade Union Members of WWF. May Day Program commenced with the procession of members to the Mayura Hall,Pussellawa. The Guest speakers of this occasion were Mr. P. Muthulingam and Ms. K. Yogeshwari.
Ms. K. Yogeshwari; general Secretary of Working Women’s Front addressing the gathering stated that it is necessary to stop ruthless exploitation of labour of the working women in all sectors. She pointed out that employers had denied the rights of leave, payment for overtime and EPF benefits to the working women and said that May Day Rally would be an eye opener to the employers and the authorities who denied the basic rights of the working women.
Followed by her speech, 2 testimony speeches representing women workers from Plantation and unorganized sectors expressed the difficulties they face in the workplace. They were content to express their problems and raise awareness among the community. Cultural items of the TU members entertained the gathering.
May Day Resolutions were passed in this occasion. Executive Director P. Muthulingam and Ass. Secretary Geeshani Ekanayake also addressed the gathering.
International Women's Day 2013
Working Women's Front observed the International Women's Day on March 08th 2013 at the WWF union office premises. WWF members from informal & unorganized sector participated for the occasion representing estates, factories and shops. The President reflected the memories of the first and grand IWD celebration of WWF held in the previous year and about the activities WWF done throughout a year.
The General Secretary discussed about common labour related problems that today’s workers have to face i.e. EPF, ETF & gratuity problems, harassments, job insecurity etc. Mr Muthulingam, Director ISD also made a speech on IWD's significance and of Kafala system which was developed with the mediation of Saudi Arabic countries where many Sri Lankan domestic workers employ.
One of the significant events of 2013 IWD was the official distribution of leaflet which was the main campaign activity of WWF for the year 2011. It contains the basic facts and information for informal & unorganized sector workers. The potential leaders were advised and provided with printed material to advocate the community in their areas by distributing those materials.
A resolution was passed in Sinhala & Tamil.
Resolution English, Sinhala & Tamil
Working Women's Front Inaugural Ceremony
The Working Women’s Front which functioned as an association since 1997 has registered as a Women's Trade Union under the registrar of trade union. The opening ceremoney of the head office of the union was held on 25th February 2012 at 10.30 a.m. at No 37, Bodhiyangana Mawatha, Kandy.
Mrs Sivapakkiyam Kumaravelu, one of the leading women trade unionist who fought for the tea plantation women’s working hours increase during 1940s and veteran trade unionists representing the tea plantation community were present at the occasion.
40% Reservation for Plantation Women Candidates - 2011
Advocacy campaign for the allocation of 40% plantation women candidates for the upcoming Local Government Election - 2011. The campaign letter was addressed to all the political parties of Sri Lanka.
Sinhala leaflet Tamil leaflet
Poster Campaign: Inclusion of Plantation Settlements under Local Government Authorities- 2011
National workshop on ILO Blue report on decent work for domestic workers and rights of the unorganized sector workers - 2011
Institute of Social Development (ISD) of Sri Lanka together with Global Network has organized a “National workshop on ILO Blue report on decent work for domestic workers and rights of the unorganized sector workers” on 13th & 14th May 2011. Ms. Elizabeth Tang General Secretary of Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Union and Mr. Reynaldo Raising, Executive Director of LEARN Philippines were invited to the workshop.
Electoral Changes and Delimitations of Local Authority Boundaries -2010
Sri Lankan government called proposals from public on delimitation of local government authorities and electoral changes. ISD, realizing the importance of this exercise and the imperativeness of inclusion plantation settlements under local government authorities and the electoral representation, held a discussion inviting Civil Society Organization, Political Parties, academics and intellectuals, with the objective of submitting a common proposal to the delimitation committee on behalf of the plantation community. The discussion was held on May 12, 2010 at Sri Lanka Foundation Institute. At the end of the workshop, a proposal was compiled and it was submitted to the Delimitation Committee to increase the Divisional Secretariats and Grama Sewa Vasam. (Village units).
Discussion and Press Conference on the Inclusion of the Plantation Settlements under Local Government Authorities - 16 March 2010
"...ISD had enlightened the plantation community leaders and policy makers from time to time, but no one seemed interested or realized the obstacle, until the Udapalatha Pradeshiya Saba was dissolved in August 2008 citing..."
Voice of Plantation Working Women Towards the Collective Agreemen
ISD closely interacts with the trade unions, organizing discussions and seminars to enhance on a Collective Agreement (CA) and on the clauses to be embodied in such a Collective Agreement.