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  • Writer's pictureAnnika Fernando

PR Face Mask Project | Women In Need

In May we launched our #PRFaceMaskProject, a non-profit initiative in aid of Women In Need, a nationally acclaimed non-governmental organization providing essential support services to women and girls victimized by gender-based violence.

Created using fabric ‘waste’ donated by our PR designers, ALL proceeds of our Face Masks are donated to Women In Need. We interviewed Diloka, a dedicated team member of WIN to learn more about the work the organization does to bring relief to thousands of women and girls affected by gender based violence.

Please offer our readers a brief outline of the work WIN does in Sri Lanka.

Women In Need is a nationally acclaimed non-governmental organization in Sri Lanka providing essential support services to women and girls victimized by gender based violence. Psychological Counseling, Legal Advise & Court Representation, Emergency temporary Shelters, a 24 hour caller hotline and 2six4 mobile app are some of the crisis intervention mechanisms offered by WIN. WIN supports all class of people and realise that we can access so many because our support services are provided free of charge.

The organization is called “Women In Need” but your work also involves children? How so?

WIN has always worked with women and the girl child. We realized that girls too are subject to many forms of gender-based violence from a very young age and therefore need support and care.

What areas of Sri Lanka does Women In Need work in?

We are present in 6 districts – Anuradhapura, Badulla, Batticaloa, Colombo, Jaffna, & Matara. We have emergency shelters in 3 districts – Colombo, Matara & Batticaloa We also have 6 Police desks & 3 hospital desks located islandwide.

What are your greatest challenges to your efforts do you feel?

For over 30 years, WIN has worked hard to reach out and support vulnerable women and girls of Sri Lanka. Growing from an informal group of women fighting for a cause, to an organization of international repute, providing a multitude of services for the protection of women and girls , advocating for their rights and being a voice for the voiceless WIN has faced many challenges through the years, in the areas of advocacy, finding adequate funding to continue its presence in different parts of the island and to carry out the services offered by WIN.

What are the reasons you feel there has been a rise in domestic/gender-based violence during the lockdown and thereafter, due to the ongoing pandemic?

During this period, although WIN’s Crisis Centres were closed, we saw a significant increase in the number of calls to our telephone hotline numbers and requests for shelter facilities from all parts of the country. There are many reasons for the rapid rise in domestic violence cases such as economic hardships, alcohol abuse, pornography, substance abuse and extra marital relationships. We had several cases where the victims were trapped in their households with the perpetrator who was violent and the victim was helpless as they could not leave the house because of the continued curfew. There was also an increased number of cyber harassment cases reported during the lockdown period. Although our Crisis Centres were closed, we continued to provide counselling and legal services through the telephone hotlines, the Mobile App 2six4, and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and WIN emergency shelters too continued to function although there were limitations of access due to travel restrictions and curfew.

Where are you hoping your services to grow? In terms of reach to communities and also in terms of actual offering to victims?

The services offered by WIN are for all women and girls in Sri Lanka. We are well established in the 6 districts that we are present and we not only offer counselling and legal services but we also conduct awareness programs among different communities and also specifically targeting men and boys too as its very important to educate them about gender awareness.

We also have domestic violence support groups to strengthen survivors of domestic violence and through these programs we seek to empower them by giving them the motivation to redefine gender roles, allowing them to break through stereo types, and enable them to create a free and secure future for themselves. They are exposed to topics such as entrepreneurship, time management, leadership skills, business ideas self-discipline & self-worth & capacity & personality building amongst a few others. This training is for a group of 15-20 women for 3-6 months.

We are also piloting a project called ‘Safe City ‘. This is to demarcate a specific area in Colombo to be violence free for women and girls. In this project we are partnering with other stake holders like the police, public health workers and transport persons. We also have a Youth Forum theatre group in Matara, who also takes part in our awareness and outreach programs especially to engage young people in eliminating violence against women.

What does Women In Need advise in terms of community effort to reduce domestic & gender based violence?

As a community we must educate our communities about respecting one another for instance in the home or in the office . It is also important to carry out awareness programs among the youth to make them understand the impact of SGBV. In areas where we are present we carry out community awareness programs to different groups in the community about SGBV , Legal Rights, Gender and myths, capacity building etc.

How does the organization obtain funding for the ongoing work?

We have to write regular project proposals to obtain funds mainly from foreign donor agencies. We do write to Sri Lankan corporates but most of the time we have not been successful.

How else can we help?

Fund raising is the main area where we need more help. WIN is a local, not for profit Organization. Therefore, our existence and the amount of work we can do through the Organization is limited by the funding that we receive. As mentioned earlier we are present in 6 districts and we have a staff of approximately 80 which include counselors, legal officers, social workers, administrative staff. Currently due to funding restrictions we only have 6 police desks and 3 hospital desks islandwide.

This is an area we would like to expand. We require funds to support the salaries of extra counselors required for these hospital and police desks. Most projects are for a limited time, therefore when the project is over we find it difficult to sustain the counselors beyond the project time although their contribution is invaluable and therefore on many occasions in the past, we have had to discontinue such services. If we have a system of obtaining regular funding to cover the salaries of such counselors for instance, we can continue to provide the services without disruption.

WIN FOR HER – a brainchild of WIN is a social enterprise, also known as a business with a cause. Carried out by winners of gender-based violence, it is a drive shaped for women by women to empower, rebuild, re-invent, and recreate a better more confident woman into society. Rehabilitation is a big part of rebuilding a life already succumbed to years of trauma and grief. Apart from the Legal officers and the Counsellors who sit through multiple sessions of mediation and counselling, it is equally challenging to help them rebuild their confidence and self-worth by empowering them.

The most complex part of creating jobs for our Winners of Violence is gaining their trust and loyalty and having to reassure them that they matter, and that they are the main partakers of the success of their business and its future. Through this project, where we manufacture recycled paper, the paper is then, transformed into reusable value-added products such as cards, tags, bags, boxes, dockets etc and marketed locally and internationally.

Our regular customers, where we get yearly bulk orders are, John Keels Holdings (and a few of their companies). UNFPA, The Asia Foundation, iProbobno, House of Lonali, The Esthethi Centre, Barefoot and Plush Box. Most of the bulk orders are customized according to the clients’ specifications. The money we raise by selling these products is put back into the project’s growth and of course the team behind its success. WIN’s ultimate goal for the WIN FOR HER brand is to someday be able to sustain Women In Need, taking away our reliance on donors and funders for the Organization’s stability and continuity.

For more details on products check the WIN FOR HER website:

For more details on WIN check the Website

Shop our #PRFaceMaskProject Face Masks and much more in store and online!


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