US funds for two projects on Sri Lanka women’s issues

Sept 17, Colombo: The United States has provided funds to two institutions to support projects concerning two important issues- women’s entrepreneurship and the prevention of gender-based violence -that affect Sri Lankan women.

Two grants of $100,000 each, provided by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will support two projects at the Hambanthota District Chamber of Commerce (HDCC) and the national NGO Women in Need (WIN).

The grant to HDCC will support training and start-up funding for budding female entrepreneurs in the South and the funds received by WIN will be used for training and curriculum development on gender-based violence in the North, according to a press release by the U.S. Embassy in Colombo.

In Hambantota, the HDCC will work closely with local women’s organizations to identify 80 enterprising women interested in starting their own businesses, but lacking the means to do so. These women will receive training from the HDCC on basic business operations, bookkeeping, documentation and finance. During the training, participants will develop business plans, which will then be judged by the HDCC on the feasibility of the idea being proposed. The authors of the winning plans will receive business loans ranging from Rs. 20,000 to 200,000.

In the North, the grant to WIN will support the organization’s ongoing work in Jaffna and Puttalam to assist victims of gender-based violence. The grant will fund training for 400 government officials, service providers and community members on the causes and consequences of gender-based violence, services available for victims, and the prevention of further violence. WIN will also use the grant money to develop a new gender-based violence training curriculum, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice. The training will be used to strengthen the counseling and mediation skills of Court Family Counselors around the island.

The two grants were awarded through the U.S Secretary of State’s Office of Global Womens Initiatives (S/GWI), a fund established to support organizations working for the betterment of women’s social, economic and political status.

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