Meet the Teams: Broadening Gender

Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) continues to be a significant issue facing women and girls in Sri Lanka. A large number of studies conducted on SGBV tend to evaluate the impact it has on victims/survivors. Having reviewed existing research conducted on SGBV in Sri Lanka, CARE Sri Lanka identified a gap in research: there was no study that examined the attitudes of male perpetrators of SGBV. Our groundbreaking study Broadening Gender: Why Masculinities Matter, conducted over three years in collaboration with Partners for Prevention, was born out of a need to fill this gap.

Twenty-four percent of the men surveyed admitted to using physical violence against their wives or partners, while 15% of men surveyed admitted to having committed rape, with the majority of cases involving the rape of a partner. The study also highlighted some disturbing findings, particularly in relation to men’s motivation for perpetrating violence, as well as in relation to the culture of impunity that leads to a cycle of violence. For example, 67% of men who reported perpetration of sexual violence said that they were motivated by sexual entitlement—their “right” to have sexual relations with women.

CARE Sri Lanka is instituting a multi-pronged approach to tackle SGBV that works with men and boys to address the attitudes of male perpetrators of SGBV. This approach includes implementing a key policy recommendation to address GBV within all state universities in Sri Lanka and working with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to pilot five Child and Women Development Units (CWDU) in five divisions in Sri Lanka. These units support state offices to prevent and respond to SGBV effectively.

Team members Vindhya Fernando and Ashika Gunasena will be representing their work with Broadening Gender at the upcoming Scale X Design Challenge!

Additional contributors to this effort includes:

Zainab Ilrahim, Program Advisor

Hashitha Abeywardana, Program Advisor

Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala, Gender & Sexuality Specialist


5 Minutes of Inspiration: How a Different Cup of Tea Produces $42 for Every $1 Invested

Sri Lanka has applied the idea of a community committee to create a return of $42 for every $1 they put in. Find out how below. Thanks to Emily Janoch for sharing the below in 5 Minutes of Inspiration.

The humble committee wins again.  It’s one of our fundamental (and often overlooked) answers to how to solve development problems: ask the community! (Then listen to their answer!) Sri Lanka has applied the idea of a community committee to create a return of $42 for every $1 they put in.

In this case, Sri Lanka calls them “Community Development Forums,” (CDFs) and creates them as spaces for disadvantaged workers—especially women—on tea estates to raise their voice about issues that affect their lives and interact with the owners of the estates. According to a report by the New Economics Foundation, that simple mechanism could revolutionize the tea system in Sri Lanka.

What have we accomplished?

  • Increased productivity: the study found that estates with CDFs were able to produce 10-20% more tea compared to those without.
  • Reduced conflict between workers and estates: managers on estates with CDFs spent 16 fewer hours resolving disputes than their counterparts. They also usually avoided strikes, which saved up to $13,300 per estate per day.
  • Return for companies: Analysis shows that companies get a little more than $26 in benefits for every $1 they put into creating a CDF.
  • Made workers happier: 90% of workers on estates said that their economic and social opportunities in life had gotten better as a result of the CDF.
  • Increased quality of life: It’s not just companies who win. Analysis shows that workers get an estimated $11 for every dollar that goes into CDFs, in terms of better access to services, better gender equality, and higher quality of life.
  • Made it easier for governments: By making it easier and more efficient to get services to hard-to-reach populations, CDFs save the government nearly $5 for every $1 invested.

How did we get there?

  • Create space for negotiation: CDFs give communities space and time to raise their issues, and a platform for finding solutions and negotiating with other actors. CDFs have representatives from management, communities, unions, and community leaders.
  • Focusing on women: CDFs have to have at least half of the representatives be women, and make sure that the largely-female workforce has a chance to participate.
  • Make the business case: Instead of focusing on how tea estates should do this as philanthropy, CARE showed that it makes better business sense. It’s not just about money, but also better relationships, more market opportunities, and a better brand. Take it from one of our partners: “When I came to this estate, I was used to the conventional way of management where we dealt with the workers very formally and kept them at arm’s length. The CDF had already been established. Because of my conventional training, I did not initially like the idea, and was reluctant to participate. But soon I was struck by the way people were solving their problems. Now if I am transferred to another estate, I would like to replicate this process there.” -Prasanna Premachandra, Deputy Manager, Carolina Estate, Watawala Plantations

Want to learn more? 
Check out the business case CARE published with the New Economics Foundation.  Read more about a Different Cup of Tea!

Meet the Teams: A Different Cup of Tea

The tea plantation community of Sri Lanka – over 1 million people of Indian origin brought as slave labor by the British – is the poorest and most disempowered segment of the country’s population. Denied Sri Lankan citizenship until 2003 and completely dependent on their employers for over 150 years, they have been subjected to various forms of discrimination and currently experience limited livelihood security with little or no access to alternative economic opportunities.

More than 55 percent of tea plantation workers are women. They are expected to work almost twice as many hours per day as male laborers before their “second shift” of work begins at home. They are rarely able to hold positions of authority which would enable them to influence changes which impact their socio-economic conditions. Also, disenfranchised youth with a higher level of education and greater desire to change their socio-economic circumstances than the previous generations have also become dissatisfied with conditions in the plantations and are leaving their communities en masse for greener pastures in urban areas. However, due to a lack of suitable qualifications and basic documentation, they are often limited to menial work in overcrowded cities.

For the past 35 years, the Community Development Forum (CDF) has been a cornerstone of CARE Sri Lanka’s work with the plantation communities. It is a proven method of inclusive governance where members of the community are skilled, empowered and given a voice to engage with relevant stakeholders with the aim of achieving social transformation for the entire plantation community. It has resulted in dispute resolution, informed decision-making, improved communications, better working and living conditions, and general upliftment of the plantation community and the tea industry.

Different Cup of Tea

Meet the Team

Ananda Alahakoon | Plantations Advisor | CARE Sri Lanka

Ananda Alahakoon is a Senior Advisor for the Plantations program at CARE Sri Lanka, and brings extensive knowledge regarding Plantations to the team. Ananda has more than 15 years of working experience with CARE International Sri Lanka and has previously served as Project Director for the SHAKTHI project and Plantation Community Empowerment Project. The Community Development Forum (CDF) was nurtured under these two projects and Ananda had a hands on role in its expansion of membership. He has experience working with workers, management, community members and other stakeholders, including state and trade union representatives to make joint decisions that he will be able to bring to the team going forward. He holds a Bachelor of Art in Geography from the University of Kelaniya obtained in 1978 and has received a Post Graduate Diploma in Community Development from Colombo University obtained in 1995.

Faizal Cader | Area Director, Plantations | CARE Sri Lanka

Faizal provides expertise in innovative leadership in strategic planning, institutional development and program management to coordinate and support all programs operating from the regional office of central region, Sri Lanka. Faizal has worked with CARE Inernational in different portfolios since 2003; and has over fifteen years of management and technical experience in development and humanitarian programs with special focus on community empowerment, governance, food security and livelihood, agriculture and coordination of emergency operations. As a development and humanitarian professional, Faizal has contributed to the origination and execution of over US$ 10 million of funds for beneficiaries in development and humanitarian responses. Faizal holds a Master of Business Administration from the Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture at the University of Peradeniya obtained in 2003, a Master of Arts in Sociology from Kamraj University of India in 2010 and a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Peradeniya obtained in 2000.

Lahari de Alwis | Manger, Private Sector Engagement | CARE Sri Lanka

Lahari de Alwis is a Manager with CARE Sri Lanka focusing on private sector engagement. Lahari is keen to expand the work the team has been doing to impact more people effectively, culminating better lives for plantation communities. Through innovative thinking and dedication, Lahari will assist in the engagement of the private sector to catalyze the reach and impact of the team. Lahari has experience organizing events, meeting with prospective companies to initiate collaboration and liaising with government contacts. Before joining CARE, Lahari served as Project Coordinator of the IUCN and Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, responsible for setting up a platform for collaboration between the private sector and conservation agencies. Lahari holds a Master of Science in Biological Mathematics and Biophysical Chemistry from the University of Warwick obtained in 2005, a Master of Advanced Study in Mathematics from the University of Cambridge in 2004 and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Warwick obtained in 2003.

Dayal Perera | Project Manager, Governance Project | CARE Sri Lanka

Dayal is a Project Manager with CARE Sri Lanka, and has overseen the implementation and evaluation of the Strengthening Policy and Action through Citizens’ Engagement (SPACE) Project. Dayal has 12 years of experience in the private sector and 17 years in the development sector providing leadership for projects funded by USAID, Norway, HelpAge International (UK), UN Habitat and many others. Prior to joining CARE, Dayal worked for HelpAge Sri Lanka for nearly 9 years and become the Director Programmes. He has participated in overseas exposure visits, seminars, conference and training programs across Europe and Asia. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Moratuwa and a Diploma in Psychology & Counseling from the Institute of Psychological Studies. He is a visiting lecturer for Statistics at the University of Kelaniya and a lecturer at the Institute of Psychological Studies.

Roshan Prashanth | Project Coordinator | CARE Sri Lanka

Roshan Prashanth currently serves as a Project Coordinator for CARE Sri Lanka. Roshan supports the day-to-day implementation and management of projects, and is dedicated to the initiatives of the team. Roshan brings innovative thinking and understanding of the people and their needs, as well as a wealth of experience in planning and implementing projects. Roshan is eager to expand the current work of the team to catalyze the reach and impact of the approach.

Kalani Ranasinghe | Senior Advisor, M&E and KM | CARE Sri Lanka

Over the past several years, Kalani has monitored and evaluated projects funded by OAK Foundation and European Union while maintaining the projects information systems, including databases. Kalani has also provided technical guidance on M&E strategy at the programme and project level and designed M&E activities and new initiatives. Kalani has worked with CARE Sri Lanka on several different portfolios and has expertise on tea plantation community related governance and gender and inclusivity programmes. Before joining CARE, Kalani worked with the Institute of Social Development, an NGO based in Kandy, where she designed and maintained project M&E plans, and guided field staff. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Development Practice course at University of Peradeniya; and she holds a Bachelor of Arts Second class Honors degree from the University of Peradeniya obtained in 2010 and a Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Management at University of Colombo.

Staff Spotlight: Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala

Today we’d like to take a break from our Meet the Teams posts to  introduce you to one staff member in particular. Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala, the Project Director of the Broadening Gender Accelerator Team from CARE Sri Lanka, was the first Sri Lankan to summit Mount Everest in May! Keep reading to learn more about her story and check out this news feature from the Daily Mail.


Jayanthi has achieved a great amount in both her academic and professional pursuits. She received an undergraduate degree in English Literature from the Delhi University in 2003 and was later awarded a full scholarship to the University of Sussex where she received her Master of Arts in Gender Studies. Jayanthi also received her 10 year tenure at the Women and Media Collective (WMC). Her dedication in her passions is obvious, but one achievement sets her apart from anyone else in the world. At just before 5:00am on 21 May 2016 Jayanthi became the first Sri Lankan to summit Mount Everest. It took five years to properly prepare the necessities for the journey. With the support of friends, family, and a campaign to crowdfund the expedition using, Jayanthi was able to raise the USD 136,000 fee required for climbing the mountain. Everything came together just weeks before the scheduled departure date. Returning from her feat, Jayanthi will continue to use the skills she has gained from her journey in her role as a Project Director for CARE Sri Lanka. With her on the team, anything is possible.

Jayanthi Everest