Women and Reconciliation

Promoting Reconciliation at grassrootsled by Women Political Leaders: A project of SAPRI, supported by the Netherlands Embassy

Reconciliation and Empowerment of Women being the priority areas on the agenda of the South Asia Policy and Research Institute (SAPRI), the Institute, in October 2021, embarked on a new project combining the two themes,to promote reconciliation at grassroots level, with women political leaders, taking thelead. Reconciliation being a basic ingredient for development of societies,particularly on the conclusion of internal conflict, SAPRI decided to commence the novel initiative of engaging Women Local Government Councilors already empowered through SAPRI’s previous programs,towards reconciliatory and peace building processes at community level.

The Beneficiary Roundtable of the project just concluded a few days ago had the participation of 24 Women Councilors and community members from the four project districts, experts and resource persons. Members of SAPRI and the Netherlands Embassy, proving assistance to the project also participated.

In view of the strength and capacities of women in peace building, as underscored by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, peace and security, the project incorporates the leadership of women Local Government Members to advance the reconciliation process within the grassroots level communitiesin the project districts.

The project also targets the further empowerment of Women Local Government Members to enhance their knowledge and capacities, enabling them to the build the confidence required to forge ahead in their political careers.

The program is conducted in Ampara, Galle, Kurunegala and Vavuniya districts andadopts a participatory approach involving political and community leaders, and, other stakeholders at the ground level, to recognize best means to strengthen unity and harmony through mutual understanding and dialogue. The activities of the project includes awareness raising, workshops for capacity building and a seriesof practical exercises at the ground level.

As always SAPRIencourages the participants to claim ownership of the projectand guide its sustenance beyond the planned duration and into extended communities. The program mergeswithexisting structures as a complementary effort, to avoid a possible overlap and ensure coherence and efficiency.

At the end of the project SAPRI expects to witness a discourse on strengthening reconciliation at community level and beyond;growing personal relationships among multi-ethnic and multi-religious participants; and wider understanding of each other’s religion, culture and living patterns; in addition to other benefits.

SAPRI has a proud track record of promoting reconciliation, unity and peaceful co-existence,since its inception. The Institutehas also been striving for nearly 10 years to enhancethe role of women in political leadership, through its programmes to politically empower women leaders and potential women leaders in society. The successfully conducted project of SAPRI in 2018-19, to Empower Women Local Government Membersfollowing the 2018 Local Government Election that introduced a 25% quota for women political leaders, is testimony to thatcapacity.

The project is supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands.

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