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Forging Our Path: Formulating Organic Definitions for Women Heads of Households

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Viluthu’s latest research, ‘Forging Our Path: Formulating Organic Definitions for Women Heads of Households’ has taken a unique approach based on an equal participatory framework that allowed for women heads of households (WHH) themselves from varied backgrounds and experiences to act as equal partners in the research process while ensuring that rigorous academic scholarship is also maintained. The research framework, with more than a 1000-member sampling, will allow Viluthu and their partners to inform future initiatives and plans concerning these groups initiated by government, non-government and private sector in Sri Lanka.

The presentation of the findings held on 15 February highlighted the dynamic nature of women heads of households and their potential to grow and evolve over time due to various reasons, including past impacts of violent conflict and present stresses due to C-19 restrictions. The research has identified 11 major categories and 58 subcategories of women heads of households. “This experience together with the women has demonstrated that women need to be included in these processes. Inclusion that is not tokenistic, without taking away actual representation of the women in their actual categories”, said Executive Director of Viluthu, Maithreyi Rajasingam.

The event was graced by senior representatives of the Ministry of Justice and members of parliament. The panel, comprising of academics, Amara Forum (WHH network), Samasam (women’s federation) and Ms. Ambika Satkunanathan, Chairperson of the Neelan Tiruchelvam Trust presented extensive recommendations including the necessity to identify the heterogeneity of women heads of households and formulate policy that does not leave out groups of women. They highlighted the severe deprivations faced by these women ethnic and religious communities.

The lack of socio-economic infrastructure to support and protect these diverse groups within the broader WHH categorisation has led to increasing inequalities, violence and exclusion. Additionally, the study also highlights the contributions of women heads of households to their families, society and to policymaking, whether as mothers/carers, employment providers and political leaders. This departs from the traditional viewpoint of focusing solely on the needs related to the women heads of households.

Greater cooperation between the government and the civil society was welcomed to further promote evidence-based policy making. “This research will act as a key input to our ongoing policy formulation work, and the state ministry will establish dialogue with Viluthu to promote cooperation with the civil society and the research team” said Secretary to the State Ministry of Women and Child Development, K. M. S. D. Jayasekara.

The event was organised by Viluthu together in partnership with Strengthening Reconciliation Process in Sri Lanka (SRP), a programme jointly funded by the European Union and the German Government. SRP partners with the government of Sri Lanka, and is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the British Council.


Wednesday, March 2, 2022 – 01:00

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