In Sri Lanka, the educational and economic situation of young people is very complicated. Among them, women, are the first affected. In 2017, only one in three women was part of the labour force. To help the most underprivileged young adults, Aide et Action has set up the “iLEAD” vocational training programme. Tharushi is one of the beneficiaries and she intends to profit from it!


Tharushi is among the thousands of Sri Lankans who were deeply affected by the 2004 tsunami. While her family was already living in precariousness, the disaster destroyed everything they had. “That day, I went to buy vegetables at the market, while my grandfather and my 4-year-old brother stayed at home. I ran as soon as I heard about the tsunami, but I could not do anything. Unfortunately, that day, my grandfather and my younger brother were killed and our house was destroyed, “says the 19-year-old who lives in Ambalangoda, in the south of the country.


A complicated context


This whole region has been strongly affected both on the human and economic level. The youngest daughter of a family of six, whose father works in a car company and whose mother is a housewife, Tharushi only went to school for a few years and had no opportunity to improve her future. Especially in Sri Lanka, girls and women carry out all sorts of tasks and household responsibilities disproportionally.


In addition, the fact that a woman works outside and has to travel by public transport is quite frowned upon in this country where social norms accentuate gender disparities in the labour market. Yet when she heard about the “iLead” vocational training programme, implemented near her home, the young woman did not hesitate!


A deep determination


Aimed at young people between the ages of 18 and 32, without any formal qualification, the project offers them three-month training courses, as well as assistance to professional integration through counseling, interview preparation workshops and a network of partners. It even encourages them to start their own business. The method developed has proved its worth, as there are now more than 100 iLead centres in South Asia, in extremely varied sectors such as cars, services or commerce.


Tharushi joined the programme following the stories of former students. She chose the graphics industry and dreams of becoming a wedding photographer one day.


Tharushi’s story is part of the Aide et Action’s International Women’s Day 2019 campaign themed #BalanceforBetter. Click here to know more information on the campaign.