In the early 80s, the WDC focused its attention on women’s issues and intervened in domestic violence. As the target group expanded and activities progressed, their attention further expanded to vulnerable groups including children, youth, persons with disabilities, sex workers, etc.
In 1986 the WDC registered as an NGO and initiated the Community Development programme, which was an entry point to identifying women’s issues within the communities. The outcome was the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) disability programme for mothers of disabled children who were not getting support, and were unable to engage in development activities. In
the latter part of 1989, the Centre for Crisis Intervention, a shelter for female victims of violence, was established to provide protection, care, and rehabilitation of women and girl survivors of GBV, while they were taking legal action against their perpetrators.
The establishment of the regional women’s forums began in the year 2000 and in 2001 the ‘Network of Women (NOW)’ was established, organizing small women’s groups into a forum of women’s groups for collective action and influence. At present there are 15 such forums functioning in 12 districts.
This is all a vision of a great woman, the late Mrs. Pearl Stephen, who was able to understand a woman’s woes and believe in each woman’s potential towards achieving greatness. Today, her vision has become a reality through the influence the WDC has had in positively contributing towards creating a gender equal, just and secure society for all.
MISSION & VISION
WDC’s mission and overall goal is to support and equip women-led community pressure groups with knowledge, resources and skills to challenge social injustices affecting women and children
The WDC envisions an inclusive society respecting gender equality
“A movement to challenge the injustices faced by women and children”
GOALS & STRATEGIES
The concrete goals of WDC are:
- To create a society where women and persons with disabilities are actively involved and have equal opportunity and access to resources and control over their lives
- To ensure the rights of every individual is practiced, protected and upheld
- To provide non-judgmental physical, emotional and economic support for women who have experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence
- To work towards a society free from violence against women
- To ensure good governance and democracy through political participation of women within Sri Lanka
WDC’s strategic approaches are:
Knowledge Creation and Capacity-building
In all interventions, WDC attempts to ensure knowledge creation at the individual and community level to provide women and men (with and without disabilities) with an awareness of their rights, knowledge of state and non-state services, redress mechanisms, and most importantly, information to prevent violence and discrimination in their homes and communities.
Action for Prevention and Response
Emphasizing the need for action, both for prevention and response to violence at home and within communities, WDC’s shelter provides the best example of an emergency response to women and children experiencing violence. However, WDC envisages an active community of women who will continue to engage with issues in their own communities, raising their voices against injustices perpetrated upon marginalized communities, and come together as one voice to lobby for change. Therefore, WDC engages in a range of initiatives targeting the community as a whole. The main intervention is the creation of pressure groups.
Influence and Advocacy for Sustainable Change
WDC believes in working towards sustainable change and therefore engages in influencing and advocacy initiatives, independently as WDC as well as through the Network of Women (NOW). WDC invests considerable time and effort at building the leadership of District Forums, and ensuring capacity building for sustainability. WDC will identify District Forums that require special attention and support, and continue to strengthen collective advocacy efforts to promote policy change together with national partner organizations. WDC aims to see structural and systemic changes in areas of gender-based violence, by identifying the root causes of gender-based violence and the underlying issues that prevent women taking leadership roles including in politics.
In addition to this core area of work, WDC advocates for disability rights and considers peace and reconciliation as of paramount importance for sustainable development.