The Challenge

Our programme is dynamic and people-centered in order to be able to adapt to the very serious challenges we see foresee for marginalized people, from the unequal impacts of a global pandemic to the increasing challenges in facing climate emergencies, particularly for those living in volatile and conflict affected contexts.

If our goal is to truly leave no one behind, let us start with those who are the most marginalised, most deprived and the most silenced.

Sri Lanka has emerged from more than three decades of violent conflict in 2009. Since then, attempts to reconcile and heal have been attempted by successive governments in order to address the sources of the conflict and heal the deep fissures between communities that has arisen over the years.

An important challenge in representation and governance is to ensure the inclusion of marginalised voices and people. Sri Lanka’s record remains poor in women’s representation in politics, and even the more recent legislature as a result of years of campaigning by grassroots and feminist movements, promising 25% allocation for women in the Local Government bodies is not without its challenges during the implementation. Women’s representation in other decision making and law making bodies remain extremely low, when compared to the region.

The war and the resulting challenges and limitations, in rebuilding, reintegrating and ensuring human security in war-affected districts of the North and East of Sri Lanka, have severely affected women and youth disproportionately. High rates of disability and violence, low income, lack of hope, social ostracisation due to barriers of entry and access, securitisation of all aspects of civilian life have affected people’s ability to enjoy their freedoms and protect their fundamental rights.

At the same time, the end of armed warfare has also opened the democratic space in the country to engage in a transitional justice process, albeit with its limitations, and encourage greater civic engagement and public discourse for peace and reconciliation. Furthermore, the Covid-19 pandemic and its unequal impacts puts in stark focus issues of importance regarding rising income inequalities, reducing social securities, existing digital divides and need for inclusive decision making from the bottom up.

As more and more vulnerable communities feel and bear the burden of climate change impacts and health crises in Sri Lanka, the more we need to ensure their voices determine policy outcomes that can ensure a sustainable future. Legal reforms need to be coupled with political and bureaucratic will for implementation and participation means taking into consideration aspects such as identity, access and power.

Viluthu’s core values such as transparency and accountability; non-discrimination, unity and value for diversity; gender equity, autonomy, choice, empowerment and meaningful engagement, human rights based approach and non-partisan position have guided us to reach the most marginalised, provide a platform for the most-affected and build solidarity among and within divided communities.

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