CRI (Chinese Radio International) Sri Lanka invited Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon to speak on “International day for persons with disabilities” in December 2018 in the half an hour radio programme titled “Piyawara”.
When youth in child care institutions in Sri Lanka reach the age of 18, they are
Required by the country’s law to part with their care homes and live independently as an adult. It is evident that most youth aging out of residential/institutional care (‘care leavers’) are not prepared for this transition. As such, these youth must be afforded opportunities to develop essential skills and a strong support network. Without such development, they often encounter mental health issues, unemployment, delinquency, abuse, substance dependency and homelessness. At present, State mechanisms to support care leavers do not exist, whether it be a legal or policy framework, institutional commitment, resources or services, and they remain an invisible group of youth to the public as well as the State. SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka has had much success in supporting youth to thrive as independent adults through the provision of continued support beyond the age of 18. From this experience, we recommend State parties establish a system that provides preparation while in care and affords aftercare support to empower youth leaving care, helping them confront the exigencies of an independent life. Firstly, we propose the development of youth services to plan departure and prepare for independent living. Secondly, we propose the establishment of a range of aftercare services, including financial and networking support and a monitoring mechanism to ensure effective delivery. Thirdly, we propose the development of staff/carrer capacity to better support youth in this transition. Fourthly, we propose a system for information collection, management and tracking the state of care leavers in Sri Lanka.
SOS Children’s Village has initiated the 18+ Alliance to support youth care leavers. Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon represents the Advisory Board specially to support the care leavers with disabilities.
In 2016, the United Nations Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Working Group established a Task Team to develop IASC Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action (herein referred to as IASC Disability Guidelines). The Task Team membership spans UN agencies, humanitarian actors, NGOs and organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) and includes Member States as observers. The Task Team is co-chaired by the International Disability Alliance, Handicap International and UNICEF.
The development of IASC Disability Guidelines mark a significant step in advancing accountability for the inclusion of persons with disabilities within the inter-agency coordination mechanism. Ensuring non-discrimination requires that such guidelines be gender-sensitive, as and Gender Based Violence in Emergencies (co-hosted by the UNFPA Asia-Pacific Regional Office and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), highlighting as a key priority the engagement of Asia-Pacific GBV and SRH stakeholders in the IASC Disability Guidelines consultation process.
Building on these initial efforts in the region, the Women’s Refugee Commission, South Asia Disability Forum, UNFPA Asia-Pacific Regional Office and International Planned Parenthood Federations (IPPF), with support from the Australian Government, facilitated a consultation workshop with GBV and gender actors from the Asia region to inform the IASC Disability Guidelines development. Ms. Manique Gunaratne from The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon and Dr. Harischandra Yakandawela from Family Planning Association was involved in developing the guidelines.
The Family Planning Association together with the Disability Organisations’ Joint Front is involved in the role out process of the IASC Guidelines in Sri Lanka. Persons with disabilities were trained on IASC Guidelines in November 2018 at the Ocean Colombo Hotel.
Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:
1 Manique and Ema from the Women Refugee Commission.
2 Manique, Saroja and Anil.
3 Manique, Chammi and the group.
Member – Asia Pacific Women with Disability United
Cisco Networking Academy SAARC Awards 2018 was held at Hotel Galadari in November 2018. Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon received an award at the annual awards night for the services rendered for persons with disabilities in globally recognized Cisco qualifications and for her professional achievements.
Since its inception in 1999, the Network on Disability of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) has taken strides, notably in the fields of ICT training, language and skills training and economic empowerment. The ICT Training Centre of the EFC which was launched in 2009 with the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO) is the nucleus of the Network on Disability. Embracing the vision of ‘productive employment through social harmony’, its objective is to develop the employability skills of persons with diverse disabilities in the country.
Under the guidance of Ms. Manique Gunaratne, it has benefited hundreds of persons with diverse disabilities to date including school leavers, job seekers, undergraduates and those employed from all corners of the Island.
The Training Centre fully equipped with devices specially designed for persons with disabilities and other software, also collaborates with Curtin University of Technology in Australia and SLIIT (Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology) Malabe. The programs are also recognized by the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission (TVEC) and within the EFC membership which consists of 700 companies.
The ICT Training Centre receiving the CISCO Academy status in 2014 is the latest feather in its cap. This is a milestone of the ICT Training Centre as it is the only training centre in the country which trains people with diverse disabilities in CISCO courses. CISCO is a globally recognized IT qualification.
Cisco Networking Academy SAARC conference 2018 was held at the Ministry of Skills Development at Nipunatha Piyasa in November 2018. Cisco Instructors from all networking academies in SAARC countries were present at this conference. The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon is a Cisco Academy since 2014 and it is the only Cisco Academy for persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka. Ms. Manique Gunaratne trains persons with diverse disabilities in Cisco qualifications.
Pizza Hut together with The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Network on Disability initiated “Change the World – Learn a New Language”. Pizza Hut trained hearing impaired school leavers from School for the Deaf in Ratmalana in a special bakery course at Pizza Hut. These hearing impaired persons are now working at Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut Thimbirigasyaya outlet at Siripa Road is now a dedicated outlet with employees with disabilities. Management of Pizza Hut, Country Director of the International Labour Organisation – Ms. Simring Singhe, Director General of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Mr. Kanishka Weerasinghe, Ms. Manique Gunaratne and Ms. Ayasana Gunasekera and the Management of School for the Deaf Ratmalana were present at this historical moment of opening the outlet in November 2018. Customers can have a new experience in using sign language.
Change the Game Academy in Netherlands together with MDF Sri Lanka conducted the Contextualisation workshop on Fund Raising in November 2018 at the MDF Office. Ms. Manique Gunaratne from The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon together with the team which was trained on fund raising by the Change the Game Academy in Netherlands prepared the Fund Raising modules according to the Sri Lankan context.
Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon was a panelist at the “Inclusion of persons with disabilities into the labour market” conference organized by GIZ at Taj Samudra Hotel in November 2018. The conference covered the areas on living with disability in Sri Lanka, including persons with disabilities into vocational training, sign language glossary, experiencing disability, including persons with disabilities into work place, challenges and possible solutions.