New Livelihoods for War Affected Women in Sri Lanka

Originally published on November 10, 2014.

The VEGA/BIZ+ program is making impressive progress towards increasing and enhancing equitable economic growth in former conflict affected areas of Sri Lanka. Through its Public Private Alliance program, BIZ+ is partnering with small and medium sized businesses to create 5,000 new jobs and significant increased household income in vulnerable communities. The primary target within the vulnerable communities are women, with at least 50% of new jobs going to women, including a large number of war widows who have suffered immensely due to the country’s 30 year civil war.

Two examples of how BIZ+ supported businesses are offering new livelihoods to war affected women are outlined below.   

Sivanarul Vocational Training and Production Center (SVTPC) is a socio-economic enterprise with the mission to provide sustainable livelihood for conflict affected women who are widows, abandoned or separated from their spouse or family and are thus the primary breadwinners. VEGA/BIZ+ is providing direct financial support to SVTPC to expand production and marketing of rice flour and spices in Periyaparanthan, Kilinochchi. With BIZ+ support to build a hostel for workers, as well as provide additional rice processing equipment and a transport vehicle, Sivanarul will provide an additional 75 sustainable livelihoods war affected women who have few, if any, income earning opportunities. Many of women are widows with children. Some are suffering from long-term disabilities due to war injuries. Through their work with Sivanural, the women will learn valuable work skills and gain much needed work experience to support their families, while benefitting from safe and secure housing.

Investing in women is recognized not only as the right thing to do but also the smart thing to do.

Muhammed Sanoon (Managing Director, East Lanka Polysack (Pvt.) Ltd.)

With the in-kind donation of large industrial equipment, East Lanka Polysack is establishing a new facility in Nasivanthevu, Batticaloa to manufacture and market woven polypropylene sacks and leno bags for packaging bulk commodities.  The new polysack manufacturing operation will create at least 60 new job opportunities to women in an economically depressed area. The long civil conflict greatly affected local industries in the area including the government owned paper factory was shut down several years ago leaving over 3,000 people without jobs. Families, who greatly value hard work and a better life for their children are struggling to regain their lives and livelihoods. The jobs provided to women by the new East Lanka Polysack factory will help to reduce a growing trend in migration to Colombo and other country by many women, including mothers. Increased income by these some mothers also directly impacts children’s health, nutrition and education by providing sufficient household income to pay for these basic needs.

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