Kapila Samitha and two others MEA launch 200p
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MenEngage Alliance is a global network of hundreds of NGOs working to advance gender justice, human rights and social justice.

Gender inequality is a global issue. Women suffer from disadvantages in terms of health, wealth, education, and political power in almost all countries around the world and Sri Lanka is no exception to this rule.  (Brief note from MenEngage Alliance in Sri Lanka)

MenEngage Alliance established in Sri Lanka

- It was a successful event, bringing together a lot of individuals and NGOs willing to be a part of the new MenEngage Alliance, reports Samitha Sugathimala, gender coordinator of FISD; the Foundation for Innovative Social Development. FISD, together with CARE and Save the Children, have been instrumental in building up the new gender alliance in Sri Lanka.

- It was a successful event, bringing together a lot of individuals and NGOs willing to be a part of the new MenEngage Alliance, reports Samitha Sugathimala, Program Manager for Gender and Development in FISD; the Foundation for Innovative Social Development. FISD, together with CARE, Save the Children and individual activists, have been instrumental in building up the new MenEngage alliance in Sri Lanka. The picture above shows key persons at the launch of MenEngage Alliance in Colombo; from left Thiviya Radhakrisnan (CARE Sri Lanka), Kapila Rathnayaka and Samitha Sugathimala (FISD), and Ponniah  Puvaneswary (Save the Children Sri Lanka)

FISD has defined the challenge as follows: “Our social structure makes children and women dependent on males. One of the main reasons for men's limited engagement with their children is the result of gender learning process within the culture , the social construction of gender roles. Girls and boys frequently learn from a very young age their gender specific roles. Boys and men are protectors and providers, leaving reproductive work for girls and women”.

Pictures from the launch event below.

Young man speaking at MEA launch 400p.jpg Group discussions MEA launch 400p.jpg Group discussions MEA launch 2 - 400p.jpg


A geniune bottom-up process

The Sri Lanka MenEngage alliance (MEA) has developed through a genuine bottom-up process. The two NGOs FISD and Healthy Lanka have for some years conducted community development programmes in 160 villages, based on an integrated approach to gender equality, alcohol prevention and child rights. Children’s groups, youth groups, women’s groups, village action committees etc. have been formed on a large scale. As local groups of male activists also started growing in numbers, the idea of a national umbrella emerged.

Mobilizing men and boys for gender justice and for the prevention of gender based violence was started by FISD in 2009. As a result of this, the “Be the Change “ National Campaign for engaging man and boys for prevention of GBV was launched  in 2012 as a membership based campaign. It has representation of community and district men committees and also with engagement of many prominent national actors (government, non-government and also the private sector). In 2014 the ‘Be the change’ campaign with its huge member base joined the initiative of establishing Sri Lanka MenEngage alliance together with other prominent INGOs and NGOs in the field.  With the close support and guidance from the regional MenEngage alliance the Sri Lanka MEA will reach individuals as well as national and local action groups throughout the country. 

You can follow the Sri Lankan campaign “Be the Change” here. This is an initiative to prevent violence against women, launched in 2012. It aims at creating understanding among men that traditional views on masculinity and femininity limit personal happiness for many and impairs the potential to live a complete and fulfilling life. 

Men Engage Alliance (MEA) is a forum where mutual learning and sharing of experiences and expertise to improve our existing work with men and boys and also for getting innovative ideas to our future program. The MenEngage alliance in Sri Lanka has also joined with the Global and Regional Men Engage Alliances with the aim of expanding their network beyond the country and cross learning and sharing from the global experience of men engagement, bringing new approaches and global expertise in men engagement to imbed global learnings and inform the country program. MEA also ensures capturing learning from the programme to support national advocacy and contribute to MEA global evidence.

Local gender activities are shown in the pictures below.

Yakkala Youth corps training center 2014 -june - 400p.jpg Men engage village member with Loving father poster - 400p.jpg Be The change youth commitee -International women's day 2014 - Nugegoda sri lanka - 400p.jpg



The following strategies have been chosen for MEA’s work:

  • Work in collaboration with individuals, social partners/NGOs, government agencies and other sister-agencies in Sri Lanka on men engagement;
  • Improve male partnerships by empowering men and boys to question on gender;
  • discriminatory norms and practices, become opinion leaders to advocate for social change to diminish gender based inequalities;
  • Capacity development of MEA members on various approaches and interventions; 
  • Advocacy to create awareness among various stakeholders on men engagement and improve access to information. Media plays a key role on this;
  • Evidence-based research for policy development;
  • Hosting meetings and linking with all organizations and institutions working on gender inequality issues. For instance NGOs, INGOS, Research Institutions, Universities.