The Importance of Autonomy: Women and the Sri Lankan Peace Negotiations

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Kumudini Samuel
Southern Asia
Sri Lanka

While none of the previous attempts at formal peacemaking in Sri Lanka allowed women any role in the negotiating process1, the peace talks which commenced in 2002 established a formal space for their engagement by creating a Sub Committee for Gender Issues (SGI) to report directly to the plenary of the peace talks. Mandated to “explore the effective inclusion of gender concerns in the peace process”, the SGI was facilitated by a senior Norwegian politician (Dr. Astrid Heiberg) and was comprised of ten appointees, five each from the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). I was a member of the SGI from its inception and remained a part of it until 2003 when the talks collapsed. In this paper I examine the SGI as a mechanism for women's inclusion in peace processes and consider the pros and cons of such mechanisms for advancing gender concerns and women's interests in peacemaking processes and outcomes.

Document PDF: