Sri Lankan delegation visit Himachal Pradesh to learn success of women’s economic empowerment

India and Japan collaborated to facilitate a visit by Sri Lankan delegation to Himachal Pradesh to gain a comprehensive understanding of the impact created by community-led institutions towards women’s economic empowerment

New Delhi, June 25th, 2024: A Nine-member delegation from Sri Lanka comprising of officials from the Ministry of Women, Child Affairs and Social Empowerment (MoWCASE) and officials of two districts visited Delhi and Himachal Pradesh from June 19th to 23rd to learn success cases of women’s economic empowerment in two projects financed by JICA and implemented by the State’s departments of forestry and agriculture. The training program was conducted as a part of a technical cooperation project implemented by JICA in Sri Lanka, the “Project for Women’s Economic Empowerment through Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Networking[1].”

The project in Sri Lanka promotes women’s economic empowerment through initiating pilot activities for women’s market-oriented entrepreneurship and business, and supporting the capacity development of Women’s Development Officers (WDOs) who are the local level frontline officers, as well as to revitalize women’s self-help groups facilitated by the MoWCASE in two districts (Monaragala and Ampara) that were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis in the country. Drawing from successful project implementations of JICA in Himachal Pradesh and understanding the geographical and socio-cultural proximity between Sri Lanka and India, the training program was aimed to facilitate practical learning for Sri Lankan government officers on activating women’s groups as vital partners for promoting women’s empowerment and national development.

During the five-day site-visit in Himachal Pradesh, the delegation interacted with key stakeholders of two JICA-financed projects: Project for Improvement of Himachal Pradesh Forest Ecosystems Management and Livelihoods (PIHPFEM&L)[2], and Himachal Pradesh Crop Diversification Promotion Project (HPCDP)[3] to understand successful models of women’s Self-Help Groups (SHGs), Farmers Producer Companies (FPCs), and Village Forest Development Societies (VFDSs). These community led institutions, pivotal in promoting women’s economic empowerment and financial inclusion, showed innovative and valuable examples for the delegation to apply in Sri Lankan context. Also, the delegation learned how to motivate Women SHG members and to maximize their wellness and livelihoods, as well as the role of the government in effectively implementing activities at the ground level.

The program ended with a valedictory session hosted by officials from Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), attended by Ministry of Rural Development, the Embassy of Japan in India, and JICA India at the MEA. During the valedictory session, the participants engaged with officers of the Development Partnership Administration, and other Divisions of MEA. Also, a special briefing was held by senior officers of the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, during which experiences from India’s flagship programme on rural livelihoods with special emphasis on women and SHGs were shared.

Commenting on the program, Mr. SAITO Mitsunori, Chief Representative of JICA India, said, “Empowering women is central to driving economic progress and achieving sustainable development goals in any country. This cooperation among India, Sri Lanka and Japan marks a significant milestone in our shared commitment to promote gender equality and unlock the entrepreneurial potential of women. I hope that this training program that was conducted in two innovative projects in Himachal Pradesh was able to provide the participants with a wealth of ideas to encourage women’s entrepreneurship, leadership and create a nurturing ecosystem for women’s collectives to thrive as catalysts of change and drivers of their nation’s resilient future.”

This training program is also a significant step, taking forward India and Japan’s development cooperation efforts in third countries as guided by External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and Foreign Minister Ms. KAMIKAWA Yoko during the 16th Japan-India Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue held on 7th March 2024 in Tokyo.

Through this collaborative effort, India and Japan reaffirm their dedication to promote gender equality, economic empowerment, and sustainable development not only within India but with partners abroad.

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