The Association of War Affected Women (AWAW) was established in early 2000 with the aim of achieving sustainable peace in Sri Lanka. Their work is focused on creating and fostering a space for women affected by war and safeguarding human rights and democracy, which they believe is the cornerstone for peace and prosperity on the island. The AWAW vision is a Sri Lanka safe for all people, where everybody enjoys equal rights, dignity and safety.
For the past Fifteen years AWAW has been at the forefront of the peace movement in Sri Lanka. Using a “women as peace builders” approach, the Association unites women from both sides of the divide around their shared status as mothers, sisters and wives of servicemen, and seeks to foster an identity as women that will transcend their ethnic affiliations. The association also uses women’s role as mothers and keepers of cultures, to demonstrate the cost of violence and teach the benefits of peace on the grass roots level, so that individuals can pressure relevant actors to adopt peaceful means to resolving conflict, or be willing to accept the terms of peace negotiated by the key actors.
AWAW forged the first mass campaign for peace in the country and, by bringing an awareness of the harsh reality of war to grass roots women, was successful in changing their attitudes towards the war and mobilizing them in the struggle for peace.
The AWAW has also been successful in transforming the conflict by fostering improved dialogue. In a project funded by the US International Institute for Mediation and Conflict Resolution and the Berghof Foundation for Conflict Studies, the Association hosted a track II level dialogue series where influential individuals were invited from the North, East and South of Sri Lanka to discuss core issues pertinent to the ethnic conflict.
The AWAW has also been a world leader in training women to be effective peace builders. It’s Women in Leadership and Peace building project has trained key women politicians, study tours to study constitution drafting to South Africa and to Harvard on negation skills, AWAW also have had workshops for women politicians on power sharing a partnership project with forum of federations.
AWAW has also done extensive dissemination workshops on UN resolution 1325 throughout the country for urban and grass root level women leaders and politicians. AWAW trained more than 1500 women on political participation and leadership through their project realizing UNSCR 1325- women taking the leadership.
AWAW also has worked on a document called “Women’s voices on Development” which was incorporated to the election manifestoes of both major political parties of the country, in 2011 AWAW and Island wide exhibition called Sthree Mela making people aware on UNSCR 1325 and calling for its full implementation.
In 2012 AWAW submitted to the government of Sri Lanka “Sri Lankan Women’s Agenda on Peace, security and Development” in 2013 AWAW developed a localized module for the dissemination of UNSCR 1325 called “Dharanni’ and trained 15 trainers.
In 2013 and 2014 AWAW carried out an island wide project educating police on violence against women and carried out an advocacy campaign reaching high school children and university students on “protracting our childhood” through a poster and essay campaign as well leaflets distribution specially for young adults on their safety and protection.
AWAW produced a policy brief on reconciliation after a seminar on women’s voices in reconciliation - from rhetoric to action in 2015 and held a panel as a side event to 60th session of CSW co-hosted by the Sri Lankan mission to New York on March 17, 2016 “The Road to Reconciliation: Justice, Hope and Dignity in Sri Lanka". AWAW launched Sri Lanka Policy forum on the 13th of June 2016 at Columbia University New York.