Women's Development Organization (WDO) Empowers Asian Muslim Women Union in Sri Lanka
The Women’s Development Organization (WDO) has taken a significant step towards strengthening women’s rights in Sri Lanka. Through a very well-designed campaign with a participatory approach, they engaged beneficiaries and stakeholders to overcome challenges and create positive change for rural village women. “Applying the tools and guidelines learned during the CtGA Mobilising Support Training conducted by the ASM National Partner, we started working to change the attitude of religious leaders, facilitating the creation and registration of the Union,” explains Ilmunnisa Mohamed Nizmy, WDO leader.
To achieve their goal, WDO identified stakeholders who could be allied, neutral, or opposed to their cause. “Allies included the education department, the police department, the social services department, the rural development department, the women’s development department, and local NGOs. The neutrals were women/men rural volunteers, and the only opposing stakeholder was the religious leader who had limited understanding of why the women’s union was essential,” details Ilmunnisa.
To involve the beneficiaries in their analysis and campaigns, WDO identified groups of skilled and interested women volunteers and Muslim leaders. “We held general meetings to reorganise the existing organisation, selected volunteers to raise awareness for reorganising the society, and conducted an analysis of problems and solutions through question-and-answer sessions.” Through a participatory approach, they listed many problems, selected the most critical problem related to women, and proposed solutions based on the prioritised problems. Meetings were also organised to change the attitude of the religious leader.
The WDO campaign lasted 35 days, involving board members and 50 days (about 1 and a half months) of work by CSO volunteers. The organisation’s commitment to empowering women and addressing societal challenges is a positive step towards creating a more equitable society. WDO provided an example of how NGOs can work with communities and stakeholders to bring about positive change. They not only raised awareness and mobilised the community, but also brought together diverse stakeholders to work towards a common goal. Through this initiative, rural village women in Sri Lanka have gained access to more opportunities and resources for their development. The Women’s Development Organization is a shining example of how an NGO/Civil Society can bring positive change to a community.