A Voice for the Voiceless
I have over 18 years of experience in media, humanitarian and peace building communications.
My journalism career started at a weekly English newspaper as a reporter and after two years I joined Young Asia Television where I worked as supervising producer for two magazine format programs (two local languages) that featured issues and concerns of war-affected communities as well as peace initiatives based on an overarching editorial agenda to promote conflict resolution in their subtexts. These weekly programs also gave space for discussion and debate on democracy, rule of law and human rights related issues and concerns resulting in and from escalated conflict. All contents grew out of a very challenging environment for media freedom and freedom of expression as the country was on “war footing” for a good majority of this period. Countless reporting assignments to conflict-affected areas not only opened my eyes to the plight of the civilian population, but also inspired me to become an advocate for the rights of affected -communities. Since then, I have used different media and advocacy platforms to seek improvements in the lives of war-affected vulnerable groups such as women, children and displaced families.
Sri Lanka transition’s towards democracy after 30 years of war is proving to be ill-planned and incoherent; four years after the war ended, we are yet to put in place a national framework of reconciliation articulating how the country envisions to unite a deeply-divided society and establish peace.
Women in my country have largely been excluded from national and local level post-war development and peace initiatives despite the empowering roles and responsibilities they performed throughout war. During the height of war women risked their lives and worked hard to keep their families alive and maintain peace in their communities. Hardly have been the initiatives to build on women’s leadership experiences and recognize their potential as mediators and peace builders. In different online and offline forums I advocate for the urgent priority to enhance women’s social capital to build peace and reduce community violence and engage them in decision making that affect their lives, particularly as we are witnessing an escalation of localized tensions between different religious groups.
I left my full-time job in mid 2010 to do a MA in Conflict and Peace Studies offered by the Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo. I am about to submit my thesis on the role social media in contemporary social movements with a case study of Egypt’s contemporary social movement scenario.
With increased awareness of the potential of online networks for movement building and non-violent collective action, I now want to create an online platform for women in my country to share their narratives of courage, unwavering commitment and determination to keep the peace in their villages and communities. And help them to start networking with millions of other women across the globe that have experienced violent conflicts to learn from their post-war peace building experiences as they continue silently their struggle for peace.