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ANURADHAPURA, Sri Lanka (10 March 2022): In commemorating International Women’s Day in 2022, the State Ministry of Women and Child Development, Pre-Schools & Primary Education, School Infrastructure & Education Services of Sri Lanka, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with funding from the Government of Australia formally declared open the vocational training centre attached to AKASA, which is the only shelter in Sri Lanka that caters to women and girls with disabilities including those who have experienced sexual and gender based violence (SGBV).

The need for shelters like AKASA was made clear during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as existing inequalities faced by women and girls were further exacerbated. During a crisis, women with disabilities are further disadvantaged as most shelters in Sri Lanka do not have the facilities needed to support their needs.

Located in Talawa, Anuradhapura, the AKASA shelter provides counselling support and skill-building in certain vocational areas. As such, the vocational training centre attached to the shelter is crucial in empowering those who are seeking a safe haven within the premises. In recognizing this need, UNFPA, together with the Government of Australia, have come forward to support AKASA and the Vocational Training center to ensure improved, quality services for more victims and survivors. UNFPA together with its partners will continue to support and empower the most vulnerable to ensure that everyone is accounted for ahead of the 2030 Agenda.