Women's Empowerment and Leadership Development for Democratisation

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Sri Lanka: Peace cannot be achieved in a vacuum: WELDD and the Inter-Ethnic Solidarity Alliance (IESA)

Published Date: 
Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Inter-Ethnic Solidarity Alliance (IESA) was barely formed when WELDD’s peace building training helped them to jump start activities in Sri Lanka.  IESA is a coalition of six organisations.  Four of these are women-led and focus on women’s rights, one is for men and women working on fishermans’ rights, while the other is a trade union promoting workers’ rights with a focus on women’s leadership.  IESA’s approach is based on rights, justice and peace. Since we believe that peace cannot be built in a vacuum; we strive to locate people’s problems at the centre of our work.

IESA was formed in late 2012 against a background of increasing rights violations, violence against women and ethnic hatred. The purpose of IESA was to build strong inter–ethnic understanding and solidarity, taking up equal citizenship rights and peace at all levels. IESA covers 5-6 geographical areas where the farming-fisher communities, war displaced people, migrant workers, casual workers, home-based workers and plantation workers live and work.  The member organizations had worked as a loose network during and after the civil war, as well as in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami.

All organizations affiliated to IESA also attempt to build grassroots local women’s leadership along with supportive men.  The organizations affiliated to IESA are Kantha Shakthi Organization, Rural Women’s Front, Fishers’ federation NAFSO, Savithri – Women for Alternative Development, Muslim Women's Research and Action Forum, and the Red Flag Union. The six outreach areas are north, east, south, Uva, mid-country and up-country. Each organization has its own focus of work and its independent work programme.

Three collective actions carried out by IESA from 2012-2014 were:

a) domestic workers signature campaign in 2012 to get legal recognition for domestic workers,

b) VAW country wide signature campaign in 2012,

c) sharing the WELDD Peacebuilding module with identified local activists from IESA in 2013 and initiating/facilitating local actions during the period 2014.

Read more about WELDD in Sri Lanka:

Sri Lanka: "We wanted to teach the judge a lesson and we were successful": How women challenged unfair divorce courts and had a judge removed from office

Sri Lanka: Female union worker stands up to bosses and challenges government greed

Editor's note: In their last meeting in December 2014, the IESA decided to change their name to Citizens Voice for Justice and Peace 


Peace and Security