I am honoured by your invitation to inaugurate the Gender Centre of the University of Jaffna. My regrets for not being able to be with you all in person due to unavoidable circumstances.
I am grateful to each of you for working towards the establishment of this your university centre which will help you to create an environment to share national and global knowledge and experiences in gender inequalities, culture of oppression, discrimination and violence and use it to create a better environment for your university staff and students. “Be a catalyst for generational change.”
Background to the UGC Initiative
Significant shortcomings in gender issues in the Sri Lankan University System were taken into serious consideration by the UGC in the recent years and the UGC recognized that without addressing those deep-rooted inequalities and inequities within the system Sri Lankan universities cannot genuinely consider themselves to be centres of academic excellence.
Therefore the UGC took up the challenge to address these concerns by establishing a Standing Committee on Gender Equity/Equality in October 2015 to advise the UGC on gender issues.
A Centre for Gender Equity/Equality (CGEE) at the UGC was also instituted in September 2016 to assist the UGC in promoting gender-sensitive university subcultures and an environment of freedom and security that allows all staff and students to work and study without oppression and discrimination
Milestone in the UGC initiatives on Gender
Since the founding of the UGC initiative we have worked tirelessly towards meeting the goals. First year since the inception has been extremely successful and exciting time for the UGC. It is our pleasure to share with you some of the important initiatives (milestones) taken by the UGC.
- Operationalizing UGC Centre for Gender Equity/Equality (CGEE) in September 2016 to assist in promoting gender sensitive university sub-cultures and an environment of freedom and security that allows students and staff to pursue their study and work without discrimination and offences.
- Ragging Complaint System operational from January 2017 which includes online Complaints mechanism, a call centre with a hotline .and email ID’s for easy access of affected students, parents, well-wishers etc. for prevention and redress ragging and sexual harassment.
- Emergency Safety App a mobile application contextualised to each university to be used by staff and students to report emergency situations related to ragging and SGBV within your universities( to be piloted at Uva Wellessa in November 2017)
- Several Universities facilitated with training workshops to develop and roll out their policies on Gender Equality and prevention of ragging and sexual and gender based violence.
- Several universities facilitated to establish their own ‘Gender Focal Points’ as Cells/Centres to enable an evolution of a ‘’ network of gender centres’in the university system working together to address gender issues.
- UGC-CGEE website
- Close and strong partnerships with Association of Common Wealth Universities, Commonwealth of Learning UNFPA UNESCO Ministry of Women and Cultural Affairs.
While the work of the UGC through its Standing Committee on Gender Equity/Equality and the Centre for Gender Equity/Equality (CGEE) will include developing overarching policies and mechanisms that will create the required macro framework to promote a gender just ,violence free university system ;
Universities are expected to undertake other measures through empowering, engaging and educating their staff and students in an attempt to change individual attitudes and behaviours, refine the quality of interpersonal relationships and improve institutional mechanisms to promote gender equity and equality and combat ragging and SGBV. A strong institution encourages its community to seek change, to risk change.
With the support of you and other university centres CGEE will improve the status, and opportunities, maximise our impact, reduce gender inequities, and prevent violence and oppression in the University system.
Thank you for joining in our on-going efforts to turn the GOALS of the UGC initiatives into REALITIES
Emeritus Professor Uma Coomaraswamy,
Director, Center for Gender Equity Equality/UGC