Sri Lanka


Elusive Peace, Pervasive Violence: Sri Lankan Women’s Struggle for Security and Justice

Spring, 2013

The 8th brief in ICAN’s “What the Women Say” series focuses on women in Sri Lanka’s northern provinces in the aftermath of war. Drawing on a survey conducted in ten war-torn districts and discussions with over 450 women, it reflects on women’s legal gains and their activism for peace and human rights while also highlighting the critical security, economic and social risks that many women face. The recommendations we offer to the Sri Lankan government and the international community reflect the survey findings and priorities outlined in the 2012 Sri Lankan Women’s Agenda on Peace, Security and Development.

Read the full brief here: Elusive Peace, Pervasive Violence: Sri Lankan Women’s Struggle for Security and Justice


Visaka Dharmadasa

visakaVisaka Dharmadasa is the Founder and Chair of the Association of War Affected Women and Parents of Servicemen Missing in Action. Between 2009-12 she led an initiative to develop a Sri Lankan women’s charter that was launched in August 2012. Ms. Dharmadasa has educated soldiers and community leaders about international standards of conduct of war specifically to raise awareness about the importance of combatants’ identification tags and treatment of prisoners of war. She also works on disseminating the content of key UN resolutions such as 1325. She is a member of Women Waging Peace as well as of the global advisory council of Women Thrive World Wide. She was awarded the prestigious Humanitarian award for 2006 by the Inter Action of Washington DC an NGO consortium comprises of 160 non – governmental organizations. In coordination with the “1000 Peace women across the globe” movement, she was nominated for a collective Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.Visaka Dharmadasa holds a degree in negotiations and mediation skills from the United States Institute of Peace, Washington, and in women and security from Harvard University, Cambridge, USA

The Association of War Affected Women

AWAW logoThe Association of War Affected Women is committed to achieve sustainable peace in Sri Lanka and believes that peace has to be negotiated through an inclusive process. We have been working with women and men in this country for the past 10 years to achieve our above goal, through processes of dialogues and raising awareness and also advocacy. We also work for women’s rights and advancement as well democracy and good governance. Currently we are training women to run for political office.

A group of more than two thousand women from across Sri Lanka directly affected by the war; their sons, husbands missing/missing in action, killed, or disabled due to the war. AWAW is deeply committed to seeing an end to this meaningless war and achieving a sustainable peace.
To achieve peace through socio-economic development enlisting the active participation of war affected women.Sri Lankan women who have been directly or indirectly affected by the war; their husbands, sons,fathers, or brothers killed, missing, or disabled due to the war or they themselves disabled or displaced.

Shyamala Gomez

Shyamala Gomez led the MIT/ICAN Sri Lanka case study.  Since 2006 she has been a Gender Advisor to the United Nations Office of the Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka. She has extensive experience as researcher and university lecturer on issues of gender, human rights, labor and law. Ms.Gomez has consulted with a wide range international organizations including the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), ILO on Labor Law Reform; Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), UNFPA, UNDP and Action Aid regarding gender and security issues. Her experience with national organizations includes the Peace Council, Women and Media Collective.  She has also published extensively on issues of gender, violence and peace in the context of Sri Lanka.  Ms. Gomez holds an LL.M (Master of Laws) on Human Rights and Women’s Rights from Georgetown University, and LL.B (Bachelor of Laws) from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. In 2001-2 she was Visiting Researcher at the Harvard Law School.


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