Transforming lesbian and bisexual women’s lives

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A chance for LB women to break free

posted Jan 6, 2014 by Rati Bishnoi

Progress
Due to the intimidation our organisation has been facing from State actors and extremists groups, we were unable to begin our project as we had envisioned. Our partner organisations in Galle and Anuradhapura have been visited by the Criminal Investigations Department. They were told not to work on behalf of LGBT persons as this is against the culture of the country. (See below for more details) Under the present circumstances, we have decided it is too risky to set up vocational training schools as envisioned, in the earmarked areas. Instead, we have decided to provide scholarship for several LB women from the different districts to attend trainings at institutes already in operation. To date, we have identified 8 LB women from 4 Districts who are to benefit from this project. The added advantage here is that these women will actually receive diplomas at the end of their training. We envision more than 10 women will be enrolled in classes in the next few months.

Risks and challenges
We are experiencing numerous acts of Intimidation and threats by State and extremist actors. We have been accused of spreading homosexuality and polluting the culture of the country, being pedophiles and intimidated and threatened with closure and arrest. Numerous blog sites have slandered our organisation and the Executive Director and attempted to incite violence and state sanctions against us. The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) continues to watch us, we feel that our phones are tapped and pressure has been brought to bear on our partner organisations in Anuradhapura, Nuwara Eliya, Galle and Puttalam. The threat of closure and arrest hang over all our heads at the moment.

Up Close
The project is being received very positively by the women we have reached out to. Indrani from Puttalam: "It will be a great service for me to learn English and I am very grateful for this chance to increase my earning potential". Palitha from Anuradhapura: “We are grateful for this project as there are a number of LB women in our area that are suffering greatly and are at the mercy of abusive husbands and families. Learning a skill will encourage independence and freedom.

Next steps
Because of the new structuring of the program we will now have approximately $11036 to spend on scholarships. We hope to include at least another 40 women to this list of scholars in the next few months making our program available to almost 50 women in total from several different districts. Future activities include recruiting more scholars, whetting learning institutions, payment of class fees for existing and new scholars, monitoring of classes and progress.

Budget
We have spent almost $943 to date. This is because we've had to rethink the project and use creative ways to do the project and stay safe at the same time. We hope to gain momentum on the project and start paying for more scholarships over the next several quarters.

Line Items Projected budget Amount spent so far

Operations

Coordinators

Scholarships(this is a new item considering we had to rethink the project due to the security situation.

$1,196

$923

$11036

$548

$231

$164

 

  • Education & training
  • LGBTQ
  • Rights

Help us create safe spaces and start up vocational training centers for marginalized women and girls.

Why we care: In Sri Lanka, lesbian and bisexual women are often abused and subjugated in cycles of violence and despair.

How we're solving this: By creating vocational training centers to empower women by giving them a greater chance of obtaining a job or running their own business.

In Sri Lanka, lesbian and bisexual women are criminalized under Penal Code 365 A. The law, along with social, cultural and religious stigma drives these women underground and affects their quality of life immensely.  Violence in all forms is perpetrated against lesbian and bisexual women across the board, by family members and society at large. This behavior is further validated by the behavior of authorities towards these women who are often blackmailed, ridiculed and in some instances raped. Shame and internalized homophobia still remains causing lesbian and bisexual women and girls to go deeper and deeper underground.

With this in mind, this project of ‘hope’ will focus on vocational skills building for the impoverished and disempowered lesbian and bisexual women and girls in the Rural Areas.  Specifically, we will target lesbian and bisexual  women from the North Central, Central, Southern and Western Provinces. Within these provinces we will concentrate initially on the towns of Anuradhapura, Nuwara Eliya, Matara, and Colombo.

Within a period of 12 months, EQUAL GROUND will establish vocational training centers in the rural towns mentioned above as well as the city of Colombo.  These centers will initially teach the following subjects:  written, spoken and reading English, basic computer skills, financial management, personal hygiene and social etiquettes.  We feel that with these basic skills these women and girls will stand a better chance of obtaining jobs or making their own businesses, which will in turn assist them in turning their lives around.  

We envision the project to begin in January of 2013 with a one-year initial timeline.  We feel that once we have the project started with the money you donate, we will be able to get more people involved with making dreams come true for the thousands of lesbian and bisexual women and girls in Sri Lanka who have no way to prove their true potential and climb out of the dismal situation they are in currently.

The budget for each location is listed individually here.  We will require a total of 4 centers.  Requirements for each center are listed below:

  • Rent (12 months)
  • Salary for Coordinator (12 months)
  • Salary/fees for Teachers and Facilitators (4 subjects x 12 months)
  • 4 PCs and 2 printers
  • Writing materials including pens, pencils etc (10 students x 4 subjects)
  • Text books (10 students x 4 subjects)
  • Large white board
  • White board markers (Approximately 12 markers per month)
  • Chairs and desks (11 chairs and 11 desks x 4)
  • ADSL connection with telephone, modem and wireless connections
  • Incidentals – utilities, phone calls, transportations, tea, milk, sugar, biscuits, copy paper, etc.
  • Operations – 10%

We have seen the difference it has made in the lives of many LGBT persons who we have assisted through the years by providing education and finding jobs for them.  These have been one off incidents, but it is very clear to EQUAL GROUND that this project will be enormously life changing for everyone involved.  Help us help them.

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