The Women’s Coalition for Disaster Management was set up one week after the Indian Ocean Tsunami on 2nd of January 2005. Since then the network which has 22 organisations working for women’s rights has been a strong advocacy voice in the district. Through the WCDM, Suriya has systematically collected evidence on the impact of war and displacement on women in Batticaloa. This has been done as a collective action with other members of the WCDM network. We document the economic and social impact on women as well as provide an analysis of the government and non-governmental programs currently being implemented in the district for women’s empowerment.
The WCDM Network drafted the District Action Plan for Gender and Protection for the Government Agent in Batticaloa and we have been instrumental in influencing gender work overall in the district. WCDM issued a statement to all parties standing for Provincial Council Elections in 2012 on the gender issues they should consider if they are elected and this was widely published in the media.
WCDM organized a district wide campaign to raise awareness on violence against women during the 16 Days of Activism in 2012. The campaign theme “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World – Let us Grow a Violence Free Society” included the planting of 500 trees in public places as well as family homes.
In 2013 due to several brutal rapes and murders in the North and East the women’s organisation-networks decided to have a joint 8 day campaign(Journey Towards Justice) in 7 districts on the theme of “End to sexual violence – in search of justice”. Women from each district travelled to the events organised in the other districts, drafted a common statement with data and a common set of demands. The campaign started in Akkaraipattu on the 2nd of December and ended on the 9th of December in Jaffna in front of the courts where one of cases of rape and murder was being heard.
Each March Suriya celebrates International Women’s Day collaboratively with many other women’s organisations working for women’s rights in the district. Our activities further strengthen the solidarity and collective action among women’s groups beyond organisational boundaries.
We have been a very active in a district level network responding to the growing concerns of the rights of migrant women. Our aim is to influence government support and responses to migrant women regarding the issues of poverty and safe migration. Suriya plans to initiate discussions with the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment on the obstacles women and their families have faced when making complaints at the conciliation division which deals with problems of migrant women in their work spaces and homes.We have also produced a film on Migrant Workers Rights for advocacy.