Gender Issues Find Focus in Sri Lankan Peace Process

As part of the peace process, the Sri Lankan government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels held a pioneering meeting on gender issues last week, formulating special gender guidelines and initiatives for the rehabilitation of war affected women in the south Asian nation.

Comprising women representatives from both sides, the meeting of the Sub Committee on Gender Issues (SGI) was held at the LTTE Secretariat in the northern LTTE controlled town of Kilinochchi. This was the first such attempt since the onset of war in 1983. Head of the government appointed team for SGI, Dr Kumari Jayawardene said it was a major achievement for women in the war-torn areas, irrespective of their ethnicity, to finally have an exclusive forum for discussing their concerns. She stressed that,” In any war, women continue to be one of the most vulnerable and victimized groups. Unfortunately none of the previous peace initiatives paid adequate attention to this, confining themselves solely to highly political issues like devolution.” Sri Lanka boasts approximately 30,000 war widows. Women also constitute 40 per cent of the LTTE’s present 12,000 strong cadre. Held to be very ruthless, nearly 20,000 female cadres have been reportedly killed so far. Full Story

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