A smiling woman standing in front of some stairs.
Where we work

Sri Lanka

Diakonia and our partner organizations are working towards sustainable change in Sri Lanka, promoting a holistic approach by mainstreaming conflict sensitivity, gender, environment and climate change.

For almost three decades Sri Lanka was ravaged by a bitter civil war between the separatist group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the government. Finally, in 2009, the war was ended and a large number of civilians were killed and/or displaced. Accusations of abuses by both sides still continue to this day.

When the war ended in 2009, the Sri Lankan government focused on economic and infrastructure development, which has enabled Sri Lanka to achieve the status of a lower middle income country. However, there is still an urgent need for accountability and reconciliation, as the root causes of the conflict still remain unresolved. There is hope that Sri Lanka will be able to proceed towards peace and reconciliation and that the scope for civil and political rights will be increased.

Even though Sri Lanka boasts of having had the first female prime minister in the world (in 1960), statistics regarding the representation of women in elected bodies are the lowest in South Asia. Violence against women is also a serious problem in Sri Lanka, where at least 60 percent of Sri Lankan women have experienced domestic violence.

Our work

Diakonia and our partner organizations are working towards sustainable change in Sri Lanka, promoting a holistic approach by mainstreaming conflict sensitivity, gender equality and environment. Our main aim is to strengthen civil society through networking, creating synergies and collaborations to empower marginalised people in asserting their rights.

Thematic areas for our work are social and economic justice, democracy, gender equality, peace building and climate change.

Sri Lanka is prone to natural disasters such as floods, landslides, cyclones, tsunamis and droughts. Disaster mitigation forms part of the ongoing programmes, and we can also provide humanitarian support in disaster situations.

Diakonia's work makes a difference

Peace-building is important in Sri Lanka. The root causes of the long civil war that ended in 2009 have not yet been processed and many conflicts remain. When the country was hit by several bombings on Easter Sunday 2019, extremist and nationalist groups tried to exploit people’s fears and past traumas to sow the seeds of division and incite hatred. Several women’s organizations that Diakonia supports quickly joined forces across ethnic and religious boundaries to counter the anger and division that emerged. They publicly questioned the violent messages and manifested unity and humanity as a way forward. Police authorities have testified that the work of women’s organizations had a strong positive effect on the tense situation.

Women’s political participation in the world is increasing, but still only 24 percent of the world’s MPs are women. In Sri Lanka in 2017 a compulsory quota of 25 percent was introduced for women’s representation at local level. Since then, Diakonia’s partner organizations have trained and supported potential women candidates and informed the public of the importance of representation. As a result of their work, the number of women in municipal bodies increased in 2018 from three to 23 percent. Since 2014 there has been a sharp increase from 84 women representatives to 1,985 (out of 8,345) in 2018.

For more information

Dilshan Hettiarachchi, Country Director Sri Lanka

Phone: +94 (0) 112822769

A darkhaired woman in a blue blouse stands in a field.

How One Woman Changed Her World

Have you ever wondered what it takes to change your life’s direction against all odds? Lucia, a 46-year-old female farmer from Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, has an inspiring answer. In a region healing from the scars of civil war, Lucia’s journey from a struggling woman headed household to a community leader shows the power of knowledge, solidarity, and advocacy. Supporting her in this transformation are Diakonia and the Law and Society Trust (LST), working hand in hand to facilitate change.

Women-led groups build capacity

The Gender and Resilience project was created as a response to Diakonia’s ambition to strengthen its work on disaster risk reduction and to bridge the
humanitarian and development work. The vision of the project was to contribute to gender equality and resilient communities through disaster risk reduction innovation projects.

Sri Lanka developed an innovative project working with women’s empowerment and community based disaster risk reduction with the possibility to replicate it across the region.

Download the factsheet.