15 August, 2022


A New Direction For Peace

By Kamaya Jayatissa

Kamaya Jayatissa

Peace begins with a smile.” -Mother Teresa

An assessment of women’s contribution and influence in post-war situations is essential in providing a new perspective; one could even say a new direction for peace.

Emphasizing the importance of women’s participation in peace-building processes was not a priority for most States for decades. It was only in October 2000 that the first resolution on women, peace and security, was unanimously adopted by the United Nations Security Council (UNSCR 1325). Resolution 1325 marked the first time the Security Council specifically addressed the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women. Not only does it recognize the under-utilized contributions women make to conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peace-building but it also encourages States to consider women’s inclusion in post-war reforms (reforms pertaining to security, judicial, constitutional and electoral processes). Mostly, rather than considering them simply as war-victims, the resolution stresses the importance of women’s equal and full participation as active agents in peace and security.

Many studies revealed the significant contribution that can be made by women in regard to peace and national reconciliation. However, such contribution can be possible only if they are empowered to participate in post-war decision making processes and other settlements that are made to bring about peace. This concerns especially women who have lost their sons, their husbands, their lands and are now rebuilding their lives. In fact, these same researches also point out the existence of gendered perceptions which lower the capacity and general potential of women in society.

In Sri Lanka, nearly 80% of the refugees and IDPs were women and children. Among the most vulnerable groups during times of conflict, women are often considered to be more susceptible to marginalization and poverty. Whether they are war widows, former combatants, victims or survivors of war, their understanding of war becomes multifaceted. Due to this complexity, their vision as peace-makers will vary depending on their respective experiences, responsibilities and needs. Therefore, rather than restricting themselves or been restricted to the roles of wife and mother, women should be empowered to build their own perspective in order to develop it for larger achievements such as restoring peace and the process of social transition.

Despite the numerous grass root level initiatives such as ‘Women for Peace’, ‘The (Northern) Mothers’ Front’ or ‘Women’s Rural Development Societies’ which focused on women’s concerns and advocacy for peace, no recognition was clearly given to women in formal processes. Representing different communities, these peace activists have sometimes even come together to promote causes and interests that were common to them by developing links and solidarity across ethnic barriers.

However, their work in rebuilding trust and understanding was often been ignored or invisible during war time. Yet, today, as stakeholders for peace, the recognition of their role becomes fundamental. Indeed, for a broader peace to exist, Sri Lanka, like many other post-war countries, needs the inclusiveness of women into its national reconciliation process. In this regard, more efforts need to be made in order to address the issue of women’s empowerment by strengthening existing institutions, ensuring equal opportunities for their participation in decision-making and mainstreaming gender concerns in processes of development as underlined in UNSC Resolution 1325.

Often described as the backbone of the household, women also have a leadership role to play in the economic landscape.  Whether it is during war time or during peace, they often become the main support of their family and ultimately carry most of the social and economic burdens. In this context, initiatives such as micro financing appear as an effective tool to empower women especially in war affected areas.

This perspective was further emphasized by Ela Bhatt –lawyer and founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India- who argues that “equity, local economies and the empowerment of women through work are central to supporting economic freedoms and eventually peace”. Delivering her speech upon accepting the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development in February 2013, Bhatt shared her own vision of peace, a peace that can only be achieved through socio-economic development and eradication of poverty:

“Certainly, absence of war is not peace. Peace is what keeps war away, but it is more than that; peace disarms and renders war useless. Peace is a condition enjoyed by a fair and fertile society. Peace is about restoring balance in society; only then is it lasting peace. In my view, restoration and reconstruction of a society are essential and key components of the peace process worldwide. […] Poverty is lack of peace and freedom. In fact, removing poverty is essentially building peace. […] Focus on women and you will find an ally who wants a stable community. She wants roots for her family.”

According to Bhatt, by putting the focus on women’s participation we won’t only find a worker and provider but we will also find a caretaker and educator; components that make women a unique factor or combination of factors in rebuilding communities and bringing constructive and sustainable solutions to the table.

In Sri Lanka, since the war ended, steps have been taken to increase women’s participation in policy making and development; such an illustration is the Giritale Consultation held in 2010 to strengthen livelihood possibilities for women. But, as we know, a lot more remains to be done in order to foster this type of initiatives. It is indeed necessary for politics – or a politics –to further support women focused activities that address socio-economic realities by ensuring that women have sufficient resources to accomplish their goals through new forms of entrepreneurship. Investing in the empowerment of women will not only strengthen the economy required for societal stability in the island but it will also benefit the peace-building agenda as a whole.

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Latest comments

  • 0

    The writer is correct, In Sri Lanka, nearly 80% of the refugees and IDPs were women and children. In the Northern Province, probably women account for over 65% of the population. However, when nominations are given by the registered parties, what percentage of nominations will be given to women?

    No one can say women politicians are worse leaders than men. Look at Angela Merkel, the de-facto head of EU and Julia Gillard of Australia. Sri Lanka had the distinction of electing the first woman Prime Minister. She and Indhira Gandhi gave leadership to the non-aligned movement. Margaret Thatcher the Iron Lady of UK is the greatest leader of post war UK.

    When it comes to representation in the Parliament, the representation of women has come down to about 5%, partly because of the election thuggery under the present system. 30% of the seats are reserved for women in Pakistan and in Bangladesh it is 15%. Women’s affairs minister, Sumedha Jayasena has told BBC Sinhala service that she intends to introduce a bill similar to Indian one, seeking 25 percent of all parliamentary seats for women. This has the backing of all the women members of Parliament.

    Women must agitate for inclusion of this provision in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, to reserve 25% of the seats in all elections held by the Commissioner of Elections for women. It will improve the quality of members in the Parliament, Provincial Councils and local government bodies. This will also ensure that action is taken by the Police to prosecute rapists, child molesters and those accused of murdering women.

    • 0

      Don’t forget during M/s Banda’s time folk were looking for food in the bins So much for none aligned.

      • 0

        Agree with you ONE, Thats the first time the Srilankans died because starvation in dozens by the roadsides. Some stupids still say ‘Bathalawathee’ was the best PM we had. My foot! She destroyed the beautiful estates when distributed among her sakkily party supports and made ugly colonies with a terrible poverty look. Srilanka was doomed for the second time when she was elected. This is the third and last time i guess with yasalalaka Tissa i mean ape Mara Hora, Tsunami Hora.
        Mun okkotama shaapa wewa! this party is a curse and its ugly supporters too.

      • 0


        During her rule in the early 1970s the first mass war crime since independence was perpetrated, in all 18,000 youth were massacred and many thousands were tortured, whilst the lefties turned a blind eye to her increasing hold on the state and state apparatuses.

        If my memory serves right SLFP never apologised for all those killings on and after 5th April 1971.

  • 0

    “Peace begins with a smile.” The writer seems to be wondering in a nunnery.
    The truth is smiling faces don’t speak the truth.
    Guru Dayan has Sinhalese and Tamil blood in his hands.

    • 0

      “Peace begins with a smile.”

      Actually, peace begins with Exposing the MYTHS. Why?

      No peace among the nations
      without peace among the religions.

      No peace among the religions
      without dialogue between the religions

      No dialogue between the religions
      without investigation of the foundation of the religions.”

      ― Hans Küng, Christianity: Essence, History, Future

      Since, the Religions are based on Myths, Until the Myths are exposed, there will not be peace between religions.

      What Myths are needed to be exposed?

      1. Mahanama Sinhala Buddhist Myths.

      2. Other Religious Myths, such as Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Nirvana, Rebirth, Sansara.

      3. Need to support a very large Monk, Priest and Mullah population

      Will the facts given below expose the Myths?
      But, if it was Myth , not reason that got them there in the first place, it will not work, -Francis Bacon.

      So the BBS and Mahanama Sinhala Buddhist Myths perpetuates. Also includes the the religious Myths.

      DeJa Vu.

    • 0


      “Guru Dayan has Sinhalese and Tamil blood in his hands.”

      How do you know?

      • 0

        Since, the Religions are based on Myths, Until the Myths are exposed, there will not be peace between religions.

        Can look at the genes, the Southern Indian Genes.

        Can also get the geneology tested inexpensively. The marvels of modern genetic technology that breaks down the MYTHS of Monk Mahanama is now readily accessible.

        Here are some answers, and we all need to look at the mirror for more answers and get our DNA tested.


        How true. The Southern Indian gene pool.


        Adam and Eve are Myths, The closest to Adam and Eve is in East Africa about 70,000 years ago.

        There is NO such thing as the Sinhala Race. You can talk about a Southern Indian Gene pool.


        There is a Table There that shows the gene diversity and original location of the genes.
        Mediterranean 4%
        Northern European; 2%
        Southwest Asian” 58%
        Southeast Asian 35%


        1.Test the DNA samples of the so-called “High” Caste Tamils, “Low” Caste Tamils, “Sakkiliyas”, “High” Caste Sinhala, “Low” Caste Sinhala, “Rhodias”, Western Seaboard Muslims light-skinned and dark skinned, Eastern Seaboard Muslims light-skinned and dark skinned, Estate Tamils, Up Country Sinhala, Low Country Sinhala, Portuguese Descendants, Burghers light-skinned and dark skinned, Dutch Descendants and English descendants and Veddahs.

        2. Categorize the source of the gene pool, like the project below.


        This will give, with a sufficient number of statistically relevant samples, the truth.

        Now I speculate, what the results are likely to be

        Group 1: Predominantly South Indian

        The so-called “High” Caste Tamils, “Low” Caste Tamils, “Sakkiliyas”, “High” Caste Sinhala, “Low” Caste Sinhala, “Rhodias”, Western Seaboard Muslims dark skinned, Eastern Seaboard Muslims dark skinned, Estate Tamils, Up Country Sinhala, Low Country Sinhala,

        Group 2: Predominantly South Indian with high percentages of West Asian and Mediterranean.

        Light skinned Muslims from the Western and Eastern Seaboards.

        Group 3: Predominantly South Indian with high percentages of European and Mediterranean.

        Burghers from the Western and Eastern Seaboards.

        Group 4: Mediterranean and European
        Portuguese, Dutch and English

        Group 5: South Indian
        Native Veddahs

  • 0

    …On his hands.

    Not ‘in his hands’.

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