Women, Peace and Security

Photo: UN Women Sri Lanka/Ruvin De Silva
[from left] Udayakumar Susila, a participant in UN Women’s social cohesion programmes, pictured with her mother at their home in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka on 8 December 2022. Photo: UN Women Sri Lanka/Ruvin De Silva

The issue

Despite the need for women’s equal leadership in effective peacebuilding and conflict prevention, women are largely excluded from promoting peace and security in Sri Lanka, which continues to be affected by a long history of armed conflict, intercommunal violence, and instability. Women also continue to experience the greatest – and nuanced – legacies of conflict and crisis, and as such, require targeted support and empowerment. Priorities concerning Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in Sri Lanka are numerous and complex, and the WPS agenda continues to be of crucial relevance in times of crisis.

How are we making a difference?

As part of UN Women’s project on Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (2019 – 2022) funded by the Government of Japan:

  • UN Women has supported the State Ministry of Women and Child Affairs in the consultative drafting of its first-ever National Action Plan (NAP) on WPS, which adopts a holistic approach to addressing women’s concerns ranging from climate response and recovery to legal and policy reforms, to empowering women’s leadership, while also addressing specific needs of marginalized groups of women including women heads of households. The adoption of the NAP on WPS will mark significant progress in furthering gender-responsive conflict and crisis response, while also strengthening the role of women in peacebuilding and conflict-preventative leadership. Most tangibly, it will provide the basis for multi-stakeholder coordination around planning, resourcing and programming around the WPS Agenda which is vital to sustainable peace in Sri Lanka. The Government of  Sri Lanka is therefore equipped - for the first time - with a policy framework to implement the WPS agenda in the country.
  • UN Women has conducted trainings on social cohesion for over 270 women leaders giving them the skills to build peace in their communities, including digital peacebuilding skills for young women. Through community initiatives such as street dramas on social cohesion, over 5400 people have increased their understanding of the importance of women's engagement in peacebuilding.
  • Senior officers across all 25 Districts and more than 40 Divisional Secretariats in Sri Lanka have strengthened their understanding of gender-responsive policy formation in line with the women, peace and security agenda, along with unprecedented coordination skills and platforms.
  • UN Women has conducted multi-party dialogues in all districts in Sri Lanka – engaging with local government councillors, administrative and police officers, community leaders, media and civil society – towards jointly developing and implementing local gender-responsive workplace, resulting in strong coordination, strengthened women’s political participation, and the setting up of three new safe houses in the Western Province.
  • A study on the gendered role of extremism and digital engagement in Sri Lanka was conducted in 2021 to understand the gendered dynamics and approaches used to instigate violence and shape extremist ideologies.