Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war ended in 2009 after 26 years, but underlying tensions and hostilities remain. The population is made up mainly of Buddhists, with smaller percentages of Hindus, Muslims and Christians, and often there is little opportunity to understand the beliefs of the other groups. This can lead to mistrust and fear, feeding into deeply embedded feelings and perceptions of antagonism and hatred. On top of this, there are widely held misconceptions, particularly among young people, about members of other groups. Centre for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation (CPBR), is crucial in tacking these issues, building acceptance to overcome divisions and prevent further conflict.
Over the last ten years, CPBR have had much success in working with young people and clergy. Now they are proposing a new initiative which will focus on empowering women. Their rationale is that the majority of Sri Lankan women do not have a voice in local or national decision-making processes. Through empowerment, women will have an opportunity to actively participate in the peacebuilding process – which is dominated by males – so they can expand its potential and open new platforms for peacebuilding, and so build sustainable peace throughout the country.
This new project will bring together young women from all groups, crossing the boundaries of ethnicity, religion and region. It will highlight the role of women, by using film to make their voices heard and their participation in local decision-making process more widely accepted. In doing so, it will increase inter-communal understanding and solve underlying and potential conflicts.
50 young women aged 17-24 years, in north, east and south Sri Lanka, will be taught the skills of film-making. Then they will make short films about the role of women, choosing the subject matter, music, visuals and style themselves. At the end, 100 guests will be invited to a screening, including some professional film directors. After this there will be a minimum of 25 screenings with a target audience of 2500 local communities and key stakeholders including youth, children, parents, teachers and religious clergy. The 50 female participants will also go back to their communities and each train another 30 women in the art of film-making – thereby spreading both ideas of peaceful co-existence and the empowerment of women.
The end result will see roughly 1,500 young women with new confidence in their local communities, playing a dynamic role in the process of peacebuilding and finding the power to positively change social systems. The cost of this project is less than £34,000.and yet so much will be achieved.
CPBR opt to use film and photography to present reality in an artistic way, so they can open discussions on politically sensitive issues. This is integral to CPBR’s work and this approach has seen much success in existing projects, such as their work with religious clergy and youth.
If you are interested in supporting the work of CPBR and other of our partners, please email [email protected] or call Ruth on 0207 5490 286. Only with the support of people like you can we continue to tackle injustice, inequality and violence, building sustainable peace.