Pioneering the Restoration of Peace: A Narrative of the Life and Work of Shreen Abdul Saroor of Sri Lanka
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Abstract or Description
Women on the frontline of efforts to end violence and secure a just peace seldom record their experiences, activities and insights – as generally there is no time or, perhaps, they do not have formal education that would help them record their stories. The Women PeaceMakers Program is a selective program for leaders who want to document, share and build upon their unique peacemaking stories. Selected peacemakers join the IPJ for an eight-week residency.
Women PeaceMakers are paired with a Peace Writer to document in written form their story of living in conflict and building peace in their communities and nations. The peacemakers’ stories are also documented on film by the IPJ’s partner organization Sun & Moon Vision Productions. While in residence at the institute, Women PeaceMakers give presentations on their work and the situation in their home countries to the university and San Diego communities.
Shreen Abdul Saroor is one of the founders of Mannar Women’s Development Federation (MWDF) and Mannar Women for Human Rights and Democracy (MWfHRD) in Sri Lanka. Saroor’s work grew out of her experience of being forcibly displaced, along with all of her family, in 1990 by the militant group fighting for a separate Tamil state. Saroor helped establish MWDF on the understanding that through microcredit and educational programs, Tamil and Muslim women could find common ground to resurrect the past peace in their communities. She assisted in the implementation of the Shakti gender equality program sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency, which aimed to engage both government and nonprofit organizations in development and influence gender-sensitive economic, political and legal policies.
With the descent into deeper violent conflict in Sri Lanka, disappearances and the loss of civilian lives increase on a daily basis. As a result, Saroor has focused most of her recent work on highlighting human rights violations of the Tamil and Muslim minority communities at the regional and international levels. Organization of protests and petitions has become an integral part of her work.
As an Echoing Green Fellow, Saroor has been working for the establishment of a Model Resettlement Village, which brings together Hindu, Catholic and Muslim women who have become heads of households due to the conflict. With support from MWDF, these women have come together in the building of a new settlement where they can live and demonstrate reconciliation and peaceful coexistence. As children witness their mothers working and living together, they are ingrained with practices which allow for formerly divided communities to live in harmony with one another. The project has also focused on efforts to create community and social cohesion through the collection of stories that express individual and common experiences of living amidst violent conflict and imbue the element of truth-telling into the process. As the war escalates, Saroor and the community are still working toward the creation of the village, although progress has been drastically slowed.
peacebuilding, Women PeaceMakers, Sri Lanka
Peace and Conflict Studies
Digital USD Citation
Chung, Donna, "Pioneering the Restoration of Peace: A Narrative of the Life and Work of Shreen Abdul Saroor of Sri Lanka" (2004). Kroc IPJ Research and Resources. 49.