On 20th February, the first SEW-E-GAP Policy Dialogue for the year 2016-17 was conducted at the SEPLAA office where the main point of discussion was ‘the opportunities and challenges for women in international development’. It was an honor for SEPLAA to interact with our international guest, Vositha Wijenayake, through skype, who talked about the role of women in international development and what hurdles they face. Based in Sri Lanka, Vositha is the Policy and Advocacy Coordinator for Climate Action Network South Asia, and the Regional Facilitator for Asia for Southern Voices on Adaptation.
Speaking on the occasion, Vositha said that development is a major field of interest in the Asia-Africa region where women are playing a key role, however, considering the cultural aspects of these regions,typical male mentality poses challenges for women in this sector. She spoke about the matter of gender balance in the development sector,where due to lack of financial independence women do not have opportunities to start their own initiatives . She emphasized on the need of gender sensitive and gender inclusive policies, programs and opportunities in the development sector, highlighting the key role women can play in this regard.
Focusing on Sri Lanka in particular, she was of the opinion that opportunities for women in the development sector have improved, more space being given to women now, women coming to the forefront as civil society leaders, voicing eloquently their concerns regarding environment protection, climate change and animal rights.
Sharing her views at this point, Ms. Ammara, Co-founder SEW-EGAP, spoke about the need for a massive campaign for creating awareness and movement regarding climate change and environment issues in Pakistan, stressing that these are global concerns for all of us. Linking up this need with youth and leadership, she expressed a keen desire to engage the SEPLAA YLC program with environment issues in SEPLAA’s effort to create responsible future leaders and citizens towards environment besides other fields.
The discussion was fruitful in emphasizing and exploring avenues where capacity building opportunities can be created for youth and women to initiate concrete action and innovative solutions for environment protection.
Other members of the session supported the idea of linking up youth, leadership and climate change, giving it the form of an exchange program where youth can discover diverse paths of approaching the field of environment as leaders of today and tomorrow.
At the end of the Dialogue, SEW-EGAP Co Founders Zahra Wyne and Ammara Malik thanked the speakers, members and guests for their participation.