Under the banner ‘Empowering women headed households – A building block in the reconciliation process’ a national conference for women headed households took place on the 10th December 2015 at the BMICH. Viluthu, Centre for Human Resource Development in partnership with FLICT organised this event which brought together women headed households from the North and East as well as government representatives and civil society. The gathering was addressed by Hon. Minister Mano Ganesan, Minister of National Dialogue, Subanay Nandy the resident coordinator of The United Nations and Rosy Senanayake Deputy Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Kumudini Samuel, Programme and Research Associate of the Women and Media Collective Chaired an interactive panel that discussed challenges and opportunities in addressing the needs of women headed households. The panel comprised of Swarna Sumanasekara, National Committee on Women, Shyamala Gomez, FOKUS Women, Tharmalingam Tharmendra from the Urban Council in Vavuniya, Usitha Sivapragasam, Centre for Poverty Analysis and Subajini Kisho Anton from Law and Human Rights Education Institution.
It was a vision of Shanthi Sachithanandam, former Executive Director of Viluthu, to convene a national conference on women headed households in order to present a Widows Charter in Sri Lanka which will elevate the status of widows and provide a framework within which all policies and priorities are framed by the government. The Widows Charter proposed by the Amara Forum will provide a blue print document for the parliament to adopt. Shanthi’s dream was to remove the stigma associated with widowhood in Sri Lankan society and enable widows and women heads of households to access their rights and services and participate in the country’s political process.
Widows Charter Sri Lanka: