The theme for International Women’s Day, 8 March 2021 (IWD 2021) is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.”
The theme celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working in the space of gender equality, disability, and social inclusion, Skills for Inclusive Growth supports and prioritise women’s empowerment in all the work that we do. This is also supported by our ‘Do No Harm’ policy which incorporates women’s rights and our stand against violence. We want to show that we stand in support and unity as an organisation to support women in leadership.
The Skills for Inclusive Growth (S4IG) Program is an initiative of the Australian Government’s aid program and is implemented with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Skills Development, Employment and Labor Relations.
This program uses the tourism sector to explore and demonstrate successful models of change within skills providers and formal and informal tourism enterprises across the four districts, through showcasing coordinated, demand driven, flexible and inclusive skills development Programs. It provides a practical demonstration of Australia’s commitment to skills for prosperity and builds on and is informed by the success of Australia’s investments in the skills portfolio.
Skills for Inclusive Growth’s initiatives will continue to advocate S4IG as a Gender Inclusive Program for gender sensitive skills and Policy development through stakeholders.
A JOURNEY TOWARDS A TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE
Krithika Thushyantha was frustrated by the lack of excitement, innovation and enjoyment offered by traditional employment opportunities available to women. So, she decided to step outside the box and create her own opportunity by founding Techno Brain, an IT company in Batticaloa district. “My parents gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted, that’s what made me to break the boundaries and become a Managing Director of an IT Company in my hometown, with my husband’s support and guidance.”
Working as a service provider through the S4IG Program was a completely new experience for Krithika and her company. At first, Krithika was skeptical about running a project entirely with female participants. As a woman and Managing Director of an IT company she was concerned about putting her growing company at risk. However, she persuaded herself to take the risk and deliver the training program for a target group of women. During the start-up of the project, Krithika faced some difficulties with screening potential participants but as she persisted and through the experience gained a new perspective:
“Today as a woman I believe that I have gained vast knowledge about the problems faced by women and the solutions by creating platforms women to women.”
Reflecting on how the Program supported that journey she added, “[A]s an institution, the systems which have been developed after the collaboration with S4IG contributed to my company’s improved performance and our professionalism. My company has adopted the systems we developed during the training, and we have since developed manuals which are fundamental to good training and replicating the program. We did not have these strategies and practices before we worked together with S4IG.”
The technical skills gained through training added value to advancing the careers of the women who took part in the training program: “I remember one of the participant’s mothers shared with me that her daughter is always now busy writing in her blog, she has increased confidence and knowledge and is sharing and explaining to others what she is doing right now. She is totally a different person compared to the past. The technical skills taught gave her the courage and confidence to move forward. The mother is now happy to see her daughter engaging in online marketing,” reported Krithika.
With 25 participants starting the course and 17 completing it, the changes have been transformational at an individual and institutional level. Before engaging with S4IG, Technobrain has been doing various small projects such as web development, GIS surveys and a Makerspace for kids.
“After engaging with S4IG as a Managing Director I learned how to think about business model while contributing to the community development. Earlier our team was using 360 degree cameras just for entertainment, to upload pictures of places that seem interesting in to social media and various other open platforms. Now we are using the same skill in a profitable way, which is something new for me and my company. The opportunities gave me space to think about everything in a business perspective and this will be my company’s future as well,” Krithika said.
Beyond the benefits to Krithika, her company and the training participants, in addition two of Krithika’s female employees are also now engaged in online activities. One is uploading her handicraft and knitting videos via her own blog, while the other is waiting for her university entrance to complete an online qualification in IT.
“S4IG’s engagement and changes have not only provided opportunities to individual participants in the training but opened up opportunities and pathways to everyone involved in the process including my company” said Krithika.