The Sri Lanka Women’s NGO Forum (SLWNGOF) was formed in 1993 initially for the purpose of dissemination information among NGOs in Sri Lanka on the Fourth World Conference on Women 1995 (Beijing). The SLWNGOF has been actively involved in working in the area of promoting the Beijing Platform for Action in Sri Lanka (BPFA). Through facilitating the participation of over 45 women NGO representatives to the NGO Forum in 1995 (Beijing) the SLWNGOF has built up a network of over 60 NGOs around the country.
Since 1996, the SLWNGOF has worked in partnership with several South Asian countries through the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in promoting the implementation of the BPFA in Sri Lanka and in South Asia. It is also regularly consulted by UNIFEM in assessing post Beijing processes over the last five years. The SLWNGOF is a member of the South Asia Women’s Watch (SAWW) and also is represented in the Steering Committee of the Asia Pacific Women’s Watch (APWW). The SLWNGOF as a core member of SAWW, in the first quarter of 2004, held a national consultation with its network of NGOs on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) and of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
Nationally, the SLWNGOF is consulted by state bodies such as the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and by the National Committee on Women with regard to national level planning and drafting of new policies aimed at recognition and protection of women’s rights in the country. Committee members of the SLWNGOF are resource persons for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and members of the National Committee on Women. SLWNGOF has been involved in the formulation of the Women’s Charter of Sri Lanka, the National Plan of Action on Women and are consulted in preparation of other government policies such as the Sri Lanka Report to the Commission on the Status of Women. The SLWNGOF was part of the lobby by women’s organizations to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform in 2003 calling for special temporary measures to ensure women’s participation and representation in political and decision making in Sri Lanka.
The network of women’s organizations and community-based organizations which work with the Sri Lanka Women’s NGO Forum come from all ethnic communities in the country and also represents the geographical and economic diversity of Sri Lankans; for example, the network includes active participation of organizations from the plantation sector as well as from the Eastern Province, it has maintained links with a major women’s organization in the North as well as those working with women from the border villages in the North-East. The issue of promotion of peace and ethnic harmony and a negotiated political settlement to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka have been of critical concern for the SLWNGOF. The successful conceptualization and implementation of the activities of the SLWNGOF since its inception bears good testimony to the inclusive nature of the SLWNGOF.