HNB joins unique initiative to empower women community leaders; programme covers Anuradhapura, Rambukkana, Hambantota, Matara and Avissawella
Women leaders from over 200 community-based organisations (CBOs) in Sri Lanka's water sector have been provided with new knowledge and advice through the 'Jalavahini' programme launched by top apparel exporter Brandix in June this year as part of its CSR agenda.
Commencing with the inaugural training programme in Anuradhapura graced by Hon. Dinesh Gunewardena, Minister of Water Supply and Drainage, for representatives of 38 CBOs, the company has, in collaboration with NetWwater (Network of Women Water Professionals), Hatton National Bank (HNB) Development Banking Division and other government and private sector partners, conducted six sessions to date -- two in Anuradhapura and one each in Rambukkana, Hambantota, Matara and Avissawella.
According to Anusha Alles, Head of CSR at the Brandix Group, the company plans to henceforth conduct ten Jalavahini programmes per year, to empower women community leaders involved in water resources management in rural Sri Lanka. The initiative was launched in recognition of the fact that community-based organisations (CBOs) are responsible for a sixth of Sri Lanka's water supply, and that in many parts of the country, women bear the brunt of the social and economic costs related to water insecurity.
Discussion topics at these training programmes included gender issues at the community level and their impact on the water sector in each respective area; management challenges in community/water related Institutions - women's role and contribution; participation in Irrigation Management for women at community level; catchment conservation and community action for ensuring water security; livelihood opportunities and climate change impacts and community adaptation for women in the respective provinces.
Representatives of the Hatton National Bank (HNB) Development Banking Division conducted a well-received session on financial education for women community leaders at each of these programmes.
Sri Lanka has about 3,500 community based organisations in the water sector. These are now being reorganised under the National Community Water Trust. Many of these organisations have extensive female participation at membership level but lesser representation at managerial level.
The Brandix Group's principal CSR efforts are driven by the central corporate theme of 'Water' and constitute a long term commitment to increasing the availability of water and the provision of safe drinking water to those most in need. The Group's community outreach initiatives also include providing wells and pipe-borne water to communities in and around its manufacturing plants and the improvement of sanitation facilities in needy areas.