With mass scale displacement of Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala families from the North and East in 1990, to different locations such as Puttalam and Colombo, Suriya Women’s Development Centre was set up to deal with the special needs of women in the welfare centres located in and around the capital city. Together with activist sisters in Colombo and women from the Poorani Women’s Development Centre – Jaffna, work began in the refugee camps. Suriya responded to the very practical gender specific needs of women and children and supported them to cope with the challenges of loss, fear and managing life in a new environment. Suriya organised mobile health clinics, held peace-building workshops for children and used cultural activism to support and mobilise women. In 1993 the camps were moved to Batticaloa in the Eastern Province and some of these pioneering activists took the bold decision to relocate with them.
Suriya currently acts as a voice of and for women living in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka and plays an active role in bringing to the forefront the perspectives of all women. Suriya is committed to working with and for women from Tamil and Muslim communities through gender empowerment, development and cultural programs. We aim to create an equitable and peaceful society free of discrimination against women. Suriya’s vision is to “build a society which is non-discriminatory, free of violence and respects and treats women with equality and dignity”.