National Women’s Convention 2016

The annual Sri Lankan National Women’s activists Convention organised by the Women and Media Collective was an opportunity to revisit ‘feminist understanding of the current political dynamics in Sri Lanka’. It brought together around 40 feminists and women activists, some representing organisations while others individually, to Wadduwa from the 14 – 16 of October 2016.

The need for a convention of this nature is vital now more than ever by the ways in which many women activists see how the landscape of their organising has been transformed since the 1980’s and early 1990’s. What they wish for is time and space for building comradeship and solidarity; for meeting spontaneously and informally to talk to one another without an agenda; for an ideological discourse which is not targeted like a workshop but shifts fluidly and in complex ways across economic, political, social and personal themes; for opportunities for self-critique and for new knowledge, and so on.

Among the topics discussed at the convention was the necessity to contextualize the current political scenario within a feminist lens, current political context and the economic imperatives, dominant political ideology, sexuality and its meaning to women’s rights and working with the media and social media.

The annual Sri Lankan National Women’s Activists’ Convention has been an important function since it was first organised by the Women’s Action Committee in 1986 and by the Women and Media Collective after 1990, annually or once in two years. Drawing representatives from approximately 20 autonomous women’s organisations and individual feminists, it has been a key (and perhaps for many activists, the only) opportunity for revitalising their engagements with what they do.