Association of War Affected Women

Association of War Affected Women (AWAW), Sri Lanka

The Association of War affected Women was established in 2000. It has over 2000 members – all war-affected women working towards sustainable peace in Sri Lanka through socio-economic development, women’s advancement, empowerment, and development by strengthening democracy and ensuring good governance.

Visaka Dharmadasa is the founder and Chair of Association of War Affected Women and Parents of Servicemen Missing in Action. Struggling to end the civil war in her country, she was able to bring women together across the conflict lines to work for peace. She educates soldiers and community leaders about international standards of conduct of war, specifically to raise awareness about the importance of combatants’ identification tags and treatment of prisoners of war. She also works on disseminating the content of UNSCR 1325 on women peace and security, calling for the inclusion of women at all levels of peace building and decision making. Recently she was appointed by the Human Rights commission of Sri Lanka to the team of the special rapporteur to look into the violence in north and east Sri Lanka and the ceasefire violations. She was awarded the prestigious Humanitarian award 2006 by Inter Action of Washington, DC, an NGO consortium comprised of 160 non-governmental organizations.  In coordination with the “1000 Peace women across the globe” movement, she was nominated for a collective Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.