Violence against women and structural discrimination and have only increased in conflict-affected areas and have negatively affected the meaningful participation of Sri Lankan women in public life.
The Added Value of the WPHF
In Sri Lanka, the WPHF aims to provide timely investment to empower and scale up women’s CSO engagement in leadership, peacebuilding, security and mobilization of women and girls—particularly from minority groups.
Having recently emerged from three decades of conflict between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Sri Lanka is at a critical juncture. The country needs to make the most of emerging opportunities while contending with its existing ethno-regional challenges.
Since 2015, the new administration has taken positive steps, including establishing a constitutional council to restore independence to public services such as the judiciary, police, and human rights commissions. However, chronic abuses distinct from the civil war, such as police abuse and security sector reform (SSR), have yet to be seriously addressed.
Violence against women and structural discrimination have only increased in conflict-affected areas and have negatively affected the meaningful participation of women in public life. The 2009 conflict has left thousands of widows as primary income generators and female heads of household (FHHs), and the continuing militarization in both northern and eastern regions of the country have undermined women’s sense of security.
The Sri Lanka Women’s NGO Forum (SLWNGOF) and Women Development Centre—among others—have established networks of NGOs around the country working in the area of WPS. Several NGOs play an essential role in conflict-affected communities, including providing quality services and women’s empowerment programs.
It is particularly important to develop the capacity of minority women’s organizations that can traverse language, religious and ethnic divides. These activities will serve as the primary framework linking CSOs and State actors, while bridging the gaps in civil society efforts across the polarized regions of the country.
In Sri Lanka, the WPHF will specifically focus on:
- Improving the capacity of women activists and peacebuilders to participate in the immediate and longer-term peacebuilding agenda of the country. The WPHF will ensure that a body of knowledge on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) is developed and utilized for longer-term planning on WPS issues that will address women’s participation, conflict prevention and protection.
- Enabling civil society to program for a transformative approach that will address existing gender inequalities and support gender-responsive justice institutions. The WPHF will be used as a resource-mobilization tool to continue necessary support for women CSOs to operate independently.