Womens Empowerment in Sri Lanka
Availability: Jan, Feb, March, May, June, July, September, October, November
Project Work Days: Monday to Fridays (weekends are free)
Support: Initial training is given by Program Manager on arrival, project coordinators help at the projects (with ideas for lesson plans and delivery) and teachers provide curriculum or text books to follow
Requirement: Must be 18 years or over
Min Project Duration: 2 weeks
The situation of Sri Lankan women has been shaped heavily by its traditional culture, colonial history and post independence policies.
While Sri Lankan women enjoy a relatively higher status compared to the rest of South Asia, gender ideologies that adversely impact women are still very much predominant in Sri Lanka. Women continue to be seen as “dependent wives” or “supplementary earners”. Traditional familial responsibilities of a female, especially as a mother, constrain women in their choice of employment, as do her family’s and society’s attitudes towards certain types of employment.
Although half the labor force in professional, semi-professional, and middle-level employment are women (with education and health services being the traditional fields of employment), very few women have been able to advance beyond the “glass ceiling” to reach high-level decision-making positions. In Sri Lanka, the majority of women workers in the services sector are, in fact, at the bottom of the employment structure.
Most women in Sri Lanka are literate in Sinhala and Tamil. This is because in the 1950s, primary, secondary, and tertiary education, including university education, was made free and converted from English medium to the local languages. This led to a rapid expansion of educational opportunities amongst females. Parents no longer had to choose whether to invest in the education of sons or daughters, and mobility accelerated the equal access of boys and girls, and of men and women, to general education. Educational participation rates rose rapidly amongst women and gender differences declined sharply by the 1960s. Despite this, dropout rates were higher among girls especially in low-income urban neighborhoods, settlements, and backward villages and amongst rural Muslim communities.
In 1983, a massive civil war broke out in Sri Lanka, which lasted for 26 years ending in 2009. This led to substantial social dislocation and trauma. Social sector expenditure was cut back by the increasing financial cost of the war in the late 1980s and in the 1990s. As a result there has been a deterioration in the quality of health and education services and therefore in the quality of life of women and their families. Women have tended to be pushed out of stable employment in the formal sector to marginal economic activities, and to unviable self-employment. Various studies have shown that for poor women, quality of life and employment conditions have deteriorated the most during the last two decades and pushed women into low- skilled, low-paid jobs.
Women’s empowerment can come in many forms and we have taken up ‘English education’ as a tool to equip women with more confidence and ability to increase employment opportunities, and developing their basic life and language skills. The women we work with come from poor to lower-middle income families and mostly from the Muslim communities, which have suffered the most during the turbulent times of the recent past. Most have had early marriages and have been denied the opportunity to pursue their “dream career” in order to raise families. A lot of these women are keen to learn English to enhance their personal growth, increase their self-esteem and confidence, and enable them to become more employable in the future. For many, conversing with our volunteers is also a welcome break from their day to day routine.
Volunteers will be teaching English at basic and intermediate level to women in small to mid-sized groups in the afternoons. Timings will be between 2 to 3 hours Monday to Friday. A lot of preparation will be required from volunteers to adequately plan for these sessions. Volunteers can get help from our staff on the topics for the lessons and creative ways to teach, but lesson planning and teaching are the responsibility of the volunteers themselves. There will be between 2 to 15 students in one classroom and volunteers can work in small groups or with the entire class. There are very few teaching resources for women’s (generally basic class rooms with a whiteboard) so please be mindful of that. Classes will involve more speaking than reading and writing English, as well as some basic grammar sessions. We ideally prefer students who have completed a TEFL to be able to work in such an environment, however anyone who is keen to be a teacher or with good English skills should also apply.
All The Details
Galle, Southern Province
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Whats Included in the Program Fee
- Pre-Departure Guide will be provided before arrival
- Airport transfers (Saturday only)*
- Shared accommodation**
- All Meals
- Project Training on arrival
- Area Orientation on arrival
- 24/7 Staff support
- Project Travel Cost
*We will only provide transfers on Saturdays. If you choose to arrive or depart on any other day there is an additional charge of $70(approx) each way.
**During busy months alternative accommodation/ rooms maybe arranged near the volunteer villa
Whats Not Included:
- Flights and Visas
- Travel Insurance
- Additional Project resources
All our rates are in USD $ per person
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Local Team On Ground
Rishad : Sri Lanka Operations Manager
Rishad is a part of our core operations team in Sri Lanka. Young, energetic and extremely driven, Rishad is central to organising support teams and giving you initial welcome training. He is also key in program development and has led some fantastic community drives including recently creating a classroom for after school club in our local school. Rishad is a real gem of a person and you will love his caring and calm nature.
Falik: Sri Lanka Program Manager
Falik is one of a kind and has one of the most pleasing personalities you will meet in Sri Lanka. With a background of living and working in the UK and then moving back to Sri Lanka, Falik is ideal to help our volunteers feel at home quickly. Falik will not only help you on the projects but will immerse you in the culture and local activities. He loves the outdoors and often takes our volunteers night fishing, cricket or other for bbqs! We can assure you Falik will become your best friend in Sri Lanka very soon!
Manushi : Teaching Coordinator
Manushi is a friendly young girl who will guide you and be your mentor on the teaching program. Manushi is a local from Galle and has a background in teaching. From a young age she has always been exposed to primary teaching as her family runs a chain of kindergardens around Galle. One of the most helpful and charming person, Manudhi will make you feel at ease on the project and will be by your side until you feel comfortable.
- The nearest airport for this program is Colombo International Airport (CMB)
- You must arrive and depart on Saturday
- Sri Lanka has E-Visas – please only get Tourist visas.
- Travel Insurance is compulsory on this program.
- For support on any of the above email us firstname.lastname@example.org
What Happens When I Arrive?
Living Arrangements for Volunteers in Sri Lanka:
You will be staying in a shared room in our 9-bedroom volunteer villa in Galle. The house comes with a separate kitchen, dining room, recreation area, front lawn and private terrace. The house is located in the neighborhood of Galle, a laid-back peaceful village surrounded by lush greenery and tropical beauty. It is only 8-10 minutes from historic Galle Fort and just a 5 min walk to the nearest beach. The house is very safe and secured with several CCTV cameras, fire alarms and secure iron main gate for safety. Our office is located on the ground floor and we have a full operational team consisting of a program manager, an operations manager, various project coordinators, in-house chef that cooks 3 fresh meals a day, cleaning staff, van and driver.
Meals are provided will be local Sri Lankan cuisine. A typical breakfast includes eggs or pancakes or a Sri Lankan breakfast with fruits, tea or coffee. Lunch and Dinner is usually tasty Sri Lankan curries with rice or bread. Meals are generally cooked with seasonal ingredients and a tropical fruit like pineapples, bananas, watermelon or papaya is served with meals.
Please note that in busy seasons we may keep you in alternative accommodation near the volunteer house. If you need accommodation upgrades such as private rooms we can provide this if you let us know in advance. There will be an extra charge for this.
Evenings & Weekends :
Evenings & Weekends are generally free and the best time to explore this beautiful island or engage in cultural activities. We offer a yoga class free once a week. Our local staff also organize several weekend excursion trips to nearby beaches, elephant safaris in Uduwalawa, whale watching in Mirissa, rainforest hiking in Sinharaja, specialized local cooking classes and several others. It is hard to find a more scenic and strategically better located town in Sri Lanka than Galle, which lies in close proximity to some of the most gorgeous beaches in Asia such as Mirissa, Tangalle, Ahangama, Bentota, Weligama. Hikkaduwa, or Unawatuna.
Volunteers Love Us!
‘My experience in India was absolutely fantastic. Having never done anything like this before, Volunteering Journeys made sure I settled in well and supported me throughout my time. Being placed with an amazing family gave me the chance to experience Indian culture first hand. I was part of the Disabled Childcare Programs for two weeks. Although short, I felt the time I spent was so valuable for the children. If this is something that you are interested in I would 100% recommend it. The memories, friendships and experiences you will develop will be ones that you will never forget.’
‘The teaching experience was second to none. I was overwhelmed by the respect and politeness all the children have, which made it some much easier to work with them, even with the language barrier. The amazing thing about the schools I visited was that all the children are like little sponges, they absorb everything you say, teach and do! It’s quite outstanding how much they gain from just a small conversation in the playground or in the class room.
So in general if you are questioning whether you want to volunteer and you don’t know what company to go with, it has the be Volunteering Journeys. You will be well looked after, gain an immense experience and make friends for life!!!’
‘I took a short sabbatical from work in November 2013 and decided to come to India. I was helping at a small school in Fort Kochi, teaching English, Maths, Science and the odd nursery rhyme. The school where I volunteered had amazing teachers and the kids were great. Ridhi and the team organised everything brilliantly – from cycling tours to the backwaters, to hosting me with a family that made my stay feel like home. If you’re going to volunteer in India then I highly recommend Volunteering Journeys’
“J’ai passé deux mois formidables à Kochi en travaillant comme volontaire avec Volunteering Journeys. Deux mois de ma vie que je n’oublierais jamais. J’ai rencontré des gens incroyables et participé à des projets qui me tenaient vraiment à coeur. J’ai pu voir l’aboutissement de mes efforts et le sourire sur le visage des enfants. Une expérience magique que je recommande à tous. Merci Rainbow”
‘I spent 3 wonderful weeks with the Volunteering Journeys team in Kerala, it marked the beginning of almost 2 months adventuring through India, and I can say without a doubt it was one of my favourite experiences of my time spent in incredible India! From the moment my plane landed and I was greeted by a friendly face and whisked away to a wonderful home, the local staff were incredibly welcoming, helpful, supportive and great fun to be around!
I spent my time volunteering in 2 local schools, assisting with English studies. The enthusiasm and joy with which the children approach their days will ensure you never want to leave!I cannot recommend Volunteering Journeys highly enough, it was such a joyful introduction to India – it’s culture, people and crazy beautiful way of life. You will leave with some fond memories and firm friendships’
‘I volunteered by teaching English both at a school and at an all girls’ orphanage for two months. It has been the best experience of my life so far. I really got to know the children I was teaching and seeing the children’s English improve over my time was an incredible feeling. From being introduced to yoga to tasting delicious flavoursome Indian cuisine and living in “God’s own country”, has left me eager to return. I have made friends across the World who made my time spent in Kerala unforgettable. I highly recommend volunteering with Volunteering Journeys; Kerala is beautiful and you will gain fun memories.’
‘I spent two weeks running an art workshop which was absolutely fantastic. The children were so enthusiastic and bustled about with paste and paint, putting together the most amazing creations. They were not used to producing collaborative work and were thrilled when their individual efforts achieved a glorious whole. Their personalities really shone through and I became very fond of them in the short time I was with them. Thank you to Volunteering Journeys for enabling me to have such a wonderful experience!’
‘There is some kind of magic that happens when you’re in India. The climate, the people, the warm welcome, the happiness in every person, the culture, it’s simply inspiring. On top of that having a group of friendly, thoughtful organizers guiding me through the program made my time volunteering with Volunteering Journeys one of the most memorable moments in my life.
If anyone reading this is considering becoming a volunteer, don’t hesitate, become a volunteer. It will be the most rewarding experience and adventure of your life. I assure you that you will have a vital impact on the community, the place and the children. I would recommend Volunteering Journeys without hesitation. Well organized and hassle free adventure. You get help and guidance with everything you need. Kerala was my destination. Safe, beautiful and very friendly. Just do it and have an adventure of your life!’
“Volunteering at the schools was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Once again the friendships you create are irreplaceable. Admittedly, the first few days were scary, in the sense that my partner and I were only 18 & 20 yrs old and we were teaching women and children a language that was not their first. However the persistence and willingness of Indians is not to be tested. Each of our students put in 100% and naturally we became very personal with everyone and these women and children taught us much more. We came out of this experience with more than we had ever anticipated. It can’t be put into words just how much we learnt from volunteering. Ever aspect of our lives and mindset has changed.”
‘I think it was quite an eye opening experience to kind of see how people live and enjoy their lives very differently to what we do probably in UK. Even though comparatively they didn’t have as much, the children still came to school with a smile on their face and they were really keen to learn. They were ever so happy and always had a smile on their face regardless of the circumstances that they are living in, and I think that was an amazing experience for us to take back. We have comparatively much more wealth in the UK and we have much more available at our fingertips. Yet we were quite not so happy’
‘We decided to volunteer as part of our family vacation. It was the perfect balance: making a contribution but not being asked to do too much, with Volunteering Journeys staff with us every step of the way to help, support, clarify, etc. I was also impressed that they didn’t feed us a line about how we were changing the world in a week; I knew going in that *we* would be the ones most changed, and the staff’s perspective’s was the same: we were making an impact by showing we cared and sharing experiences, which hopefully meant something to a lot of people.’