The Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS) will convene the National Conference in Reconciliation on the Role of Women in Reconciliation from on Monday, 23rd July.
The conference is expected to bring together experts, state representatives, activists and diverse organizations on women's affairs to share their experiences, expertise and unparallel work.
A press communiqué released by Kadirgamar Institute revealed that the three decade long internal conflict damaged Sri Lanka's political, social and cultural fabric. Women and children, vulnerable groups, were the most affected.
The communiqué further revealed, “Kadirgamar Institute, the premier national think-tank in Sri Lanka, acts as a catalyst, promoting dialogue and discussion thus encouraging public participation. The outcome and recommendations from the National Conference on the Role of Women in Reconciliation will be taken to national level to feed into the development of an action plan for the inclusion of women in the peace process. This is essential to make the reconciliation process inclusive and transparent through the involvement of the civil society. The Conference, therefore, is to understand the problems faced by women in the north and east as well as to draw out solutions essential for policy makers for cohesive policy formulation.
“Women have many roles in peace and reconciliation. The functions women have in reconciliation processes are complex, reflecting the multiple roles women have in society. One crucial role for women in most societies is that of a mother. Women act as role models for their children and contribute significantly in shaping the minds and attitudes within the family nucleus. Women are motivated to protect their children and ensure security for their families. Despite—or because of—the harsh experiences of so many who survive violent conflict, women generally refuse to give up the pursuit of peace. Women also have the unique ability to cut across borders and to unify communities. They can act as bridge builders and have ability to ease internal divides. They have an innovative way to coop problems and support each other. Engaging women into the national reconciliation process can therefore have ripple effects thus affecting the reconciliation process most positively and investing the entire society with invaluable social benefits.
Not only women face the adverse consequences of decade long conflict with issues related to gender and discrimination, become victims of domestic violence and abuse and suffer from conflict-related trauma, they also find their roles changed as bread winners of the family with children and elderly. Empowering women and uplifting their social economic stance is equally important and can be considered symbolic in traditional societies like ours as well as the most crucial requirement of the contemporary society. The conference will bring into focus efforts of social entrepreneurs, women activists and organizations and state support structures for war affected women in Sri Lanka into the spotlight with a view of sharing reconciliation socio- economic initiatives on women. Another objective of the conference at national level on role of women in reconciliation is to find ways of strengthening the reconciliation process and making it more holistic with the inclusion of women and children in Sri Lanka into the national reconciliation process.
The conference will not only discuss the support programs and activities already in place for war affected women in the country but also the importance of livelihood development programs - small and medium scale enterprises and micro financing initiatives. Empowerment of women through skills development and capacity building workshops and training projects will be shared through the National Conference on Role of Women in Reconciliation.
Women are in a unique position to promote values and take a leading role in a peace and reconciliation process therefore women from all communities needs to be included and considered as a vital element for ensuring sustainable and long lasting peace for Sri Lanka.
Working in partnership with the government, private sector and civil society organizations, the Kadirgamar Institute is the host of a series of national conferences on reconciliation. Commencing from its Inaugural National Conference in November 2011, Kadirgamar Institute hosted two other national conferences on the Role of Business Community in Reconciliation in January 2012, and the National Conference on the Role of Education in Reconciliation in March, 2012 respectively. Asanga Abeygoonasekera, the Executive Director of the Kadirgamar Institute invites members of the public to participate in the conference."
The Speakers of the conference will be:
Prof. Rohan Gunaratna, Head, International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR), Singapore
Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle, Medical practitioner, Member of Parliament
Dr. Sepali Kottegoda, Executive Director, Women and Media Collective
Mjr. Gen. Dr. Dudley Perera, USP, Chairman, Ranaviru Family Counseling & Support Services (RFCSS), Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Military Hospital, Colombo
Ms. Mudhitha Samadhani Kiriwandeniya, Deputy Chairman, Sanasa Development Bank
Ms. Sumithra Rahubadda, Former Secretary, Ministry of Child Development and Women's Affairs
Mr. Chandula Abeyawickrama, Deputy General Manager, Development Banking, Hatton National Bank
Ms. Anoja Weerasinghe, Actress, Founder of Abhina Academy of Performing Arts
Ms. Kumari Grero, Coordinating Principal, Lyceum International School
Ms. Shyamala Gomez (Moderator), Lawyer Activist and Programme Advisor, FOKUS Women
Mr. Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, Executive Director, Kadirgamar Institute.