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A REPORT ON THE STATUS OF

FEMALE HEADS OF HOUSEHOLDS


AND THEIR ACCESS TO ECONOMIC,
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
ANURADHAPURA DISTRICT:
KEBETHIGOLLEWA AND MAHAVILACHCHIYA

A REPORT ON THE STATUS OF


FEMALE HEADS OF HOUSEHOLDS
AND THEIR ACCESS TO ECONOMIC,
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
ANURADHAPURA DISTRICT:

KEBETHIGOLLEWA AND MAHA VILACHCHIYA

2015

MAY 2015

The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not represent the views of FOKUS.
Published by:
FOKUS WOMEN
34 A, Sulaiman Avenue
Colombo 5
Sri Lanka
Tel/Fax: +94112055404
Web: http://www.fokuskvinner.no
Cover Photo: Rajarata Praja Kendraya and Thilina Madiwala/FOKUS WOMEN
Printed and Published in 2015
All rights reserved. This material is copyright and not for resale, but may be reproduced by
any method for teaching purposes. For copying in other circumstances for re-use in other
publications or for translation, prior written permission must be obtained from the copyright
owner.
Printed and bound in Sri Lanka by Wits Originals

iii

FOREWORD
FOKUS WOMEN undertook this research from September to December 2014. The available
literature on female heads of households indicated many gaps and there was a need to clarify
the conceptual understanding of who a female head of the household (FHH) is. This common
understanding among development actors and state institutions is crucial as a first step towards
working on the issues of FHH.
Female heads of households from the Sinhala community living in the former border villages
have also borne the brunt of the thirty-year war. These women, some of them widowed at a
young age, struggle in the aftermath of war to maintain their households. The issues faced by
women living in the former border villages have not received much attention by development
actors, other than for supporting their livelihood activities. FOKUS WOMEN identified the
need to work on issues of female heads of households (FHHs) at the end of Phase One of the
FOKUS programme. There was also a need for systematic documentation of information on
FHHs who have been affected by the conflict in these areas.
The methodology consisted of a quantitative approach and survey method that was
complemented by qualitative information gathered from focus group discussions. A
questionnaire was administered to a sample of 351 FHHs that included Sinhala war affected
widows in Kebethigollewa and Maha Vilachchiya Divisional Secretariat Divisions (DSDs) in
the Anuradhapura district.
FOKUS WOMEN would like to thank Ms. Kanchana Sujananie Bulumulle, Senior Lecturer in
Sociology, Open University of Sri Lanka for carrying out the research and writing the report.
We also thank Ms. Sheela Rathnayake, Ms. Rupa Gamage and Ms. Kusumalatha from Rajarata
Praja Kendraya for carrying out the quantitative and qualitative research for the study.
Shyamala Gomez
Country Director
FOKUS WOMEN

iv

A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
FROM THE AUTHOR
Ms. Bulumulle wishes to thank the respondents for their stories
and time, Professor Karunatissa Atukorale for his inputs to the
questionnaire and R.A. Niluka Senaratne for data entry assistance.
She also wishes to thank Ms. Sheela Rathnayake, Ms. Rupa
Gamage, Ms. Kusumalatha and staff from Rajarata Praja Kendraya
for their assistance in carrying out the fieldwork. Ms. Bulumulle
also thanks the FOKUS WOMEN team for their support.

FoKUS Women

CONTENTS
Foreword
Acknowledgements
Contents
Chapter I
Introduction
War, conflict and post war Sri Lanka
War, post war and Sri Lankan women
The study
Methodology
Methods of data collection
Analysis
Limitations

iii
iv
v
1
1
2
2
4
4
5
5

Chapter II
The socio-economic profile of female headed households
Level of education
Employment and livelihoods
Income levels and ownership of immovable assets
Nature of the house lived in
Access to water for everyday needs

7
7
7
9
10
11
11

Chapter III
Effects of the war
On educational attainment
Violence against women
The situation of early marriage
Issues of land use and ownership
Public services: availability and access
Peacebuilding
Peace initiatives and activities
Participation of FHHs
Youth unrest

13
13
14
14
15
16
17
18
19
19
19

Chapter IV
Conclusions

21
21

vi

A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

Chapter V
Recommendations
Socio-economic status
Early marriage
Land rights and property issues
Domestic and sexual violence
Peacebuilding

23
23
23
24
24
25
25

References

26

Annex 1: Statistical information on FHHs in the two DSDs


Annex 2: Selected GNDs for the sample
Annex 3: Narratives from focus group discussions
Annex 4: Questionnaire

27
29
31
38

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION
Sri Lanka is an island of 65,610 square kilometers, located in the Indian subcontinent.
Demographically, with a population of 20.2 million (Central Bank of Sri Lanka, 2013:12), Sri
Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country. Presently Sri Lanka is emerging from 35 years
of civil war (from 1975-2009) based on ethnic issues mainly between Sinhalese and Tamils.
With regard to women and their social status in Sri Lanka, researchers and scholars suggest that
they enjoy a more favourable social position than their sisters in other South Asian nations;
experiencing less pressure pertaining to dowry and social ostracism (Gunawardena, 2005;
Kiribamune,1990; Samarakkody,1983) and this is substantiated to a large extent. For example
Sri Lankan womens general educational achievements are the highest in the region with literacy
levels equal to those of women in developed countries. The female literacy rate in 2010 was
reported as 90.8 percent, while the male rate was 93.2 percent (Census and Statistics, 2011).
Also in terms of population representation, the male female ratio is estimated at 0.96 male(s)/1
female in 20141 and relatively a higher life expectancy for women of 78 year as against 72 for
men is evident.
Further the general statistics pertaining to key areas of the labour force participation by the state
Department of Census and Statistics in 2011 also projects a view that womens participation in
all three industrial sectors of agriculture, private industries and services, is favourable, with
men out numbering women only in the service sector, by 10.7 percent.
However, this macro picture of positive outcomes of women at a more general national level
perhaps get challenged by a situation that there are only thirteen women parliamentarians
amounting to 5.7 percent of the total (Kuruppu, 2006: 15) womens noticeably lower representation
generally in the decision making and management positions, gendered wage gaps particularly
evident in the plantation and rural informal sector and unequal legal rights and restrictions
on womens ownership to property. Further, the Global Gender Gap rank of Sri Lanka coming
down to 79th place according to the Global Gender Gap report 20142 is also strongly symbolic
of the deteriorating social position of Sri Lankan women. Even more so, the statistical reports
SRILANKA SEX RATIO August2014 In Mundi, CIA World Factbook At www.indexmundi.com/sri_lanka/sex_
ratio.html

GLOBAL GENDER GAP REPORT http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report 2014/


economies/#economy=LKA accessed 16/02/2015

A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

reveal that violence against women is at an alarming height of 60 percent or more (CENWOR,
2014). In this regard, some civil society estimates declare that domestic violence has reached
a percentage of 80 in Sri Lanka (Marlene Abeywardena, 2013), and that the incidence of rape
remains at a high level.

War, conflict and post war Sri Lanka


The three decades of ethno-nationalist warfare has been critical in the lives of all Sri Lankans;
Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese alike, ever since its origination in 1975. And now, even after the
so called ending of the war in 2009, through military combat and warfare, the negative impact
it has left on a post war political and social setting is profound and obstinately intense.
Whilst perhaps acknowledging that the most damage of the thirty year war was suffered by the
members of the Tamil minority in the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka; who were
constantly over-wrought with issues of internal displacement, caught up in the violent combat
between the Army as well as the LTTE that affected their lives on a daily basis. However, the
impact the war brought on general civilian life as a whole to populations in the other parts of the
country particularly the North Central Sri Lanka or even the deep south primarily populated by
Muslims and Sinhalese cannot be simply under estimated. The violence and massacres endured
by those living in the border villages of the southern part of Sri Lanka where Sinhalese and
Muslim populations numerically predominate, appear to have been ignored or forgotten due to
the emotional and political preoccupation with the more frequent losses suffered by the Tamil
population of the North, who were victimised for a relatively longer period of time. However,
the existing evidence and socio-economic situations evident for example particularly in the
border villages of Kebethigollewa and Maha Vilachchiya in the Anuradhapura district, shows
that the impact of the brutal war had been equally devastating on these other populations as
well.

War, post war and Sri Lankan women


The gender dimension of the civil ethnic conflict is a very significant one. Hence, attention to the
disproportionate impact of war related issues suffered by women in internal conflict situations
of displacement, as spouses or partners of combatant men of the Army and the LTTE becomes
vital. Reportedly, the war has left a massive number of widows and thereby destitute, both in the
North (Vasudevan, 2013)3 as well as the South. Further, the Household Income and Expenditure
Survey (HIES) of 2012 by the Department of Census and Statistics also reveal that, out of 5.2
million households in Sri Lanka, 1.1 million (23 percent) households are headed by women, and
that more than 50 percent of these women are widows, while the majority of the Female Heads

EVERYDAY RESISTANCE: FEMALE HEADED HOUSEHOLDS IN THE NORTH AND EAST


OF SRI LANKA by Raksha Vasudevan May 2013 In Graduate Institute Publications,
Graduate Institute of International Development Studies Geneva At http://iheid.revues.
org/680?lang=en accessed May 2013

FoKUS Women

of Households possess an education level of grade 6-10, a 7 percent of them have never attended
school (Department of Census and Statistics, 2012: 9-10)4.
Furthermore studies reporting on war widows show that5 the families with single mothers, whose
husbands or partners are deceased or missing during the ethnic conflict are the sole breadwinners
of their households, and that these women face difficulties when hired for jobs, because these jobs
largely focus on men and are therefore male dominated and masculinised. Also, when applying
for or when accessing loans, women find it much more challenging than men, to obtain a loan
successfully. Further, where financial assistance is granted, the widows may be provided one off
payments of several thousand rupees, once the death status of a husband is duly, legally established
(Saravanandan,2008)6. The militarization of everyday life and trafficking of women and issues
related to land settlement, ownership and use are issues that particularly affect the female heads
of households including widows.

On the other hand for the empowerment of these women victims, there have been a multitude
of non-government organisations, financial institutions, state and private attempts in support,
to assist these widows and other female heads of households (FHHs) to sufficiently overcome
their socio-economic deprivations, relieving them of their dependent status in the community
and society. These efforts include various womens groups such as The Mothers Front formed in
1984 and later formed under a coalition called Women for Peace or as Mothers and Daughters
of Lanka and organisations such as Women and Media Collective are instrumental in calling
for womens inclusion in peace building strategies and processes.
Similarly, these numerous efforts of empowerment of women have drawn their impetus from
formal legal provisions and frameworks available to ensure and safeguard the rights of those
victimised by the war. The established international standards promote the protection of women
during armed conflict and in post war situations. UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and
the CEDAW are critical tools in this regard for promoting and securing gender equality and
womens rights. UN SCR 1325 for example helps to broaden the scope of CEDAWs application
and clarifies its relevance to all parties during conflict and during peace negotiations (Women,
Peace and Security, 2000). This resolution (UNSCR1325) contains 18 provisions to support
womens participation in peace negotiation and consolidation. UNSCR 1325 more specifically
calls to increase the representation of women at all levels of decision making in institutions that
promote security, calls to all parties in conflict and peace building to respond to womens needs
in post conflict justice and governance institutions, to address womens needs in disarmament
Demographic Characteristics: FEMALE HEADED HOUSE HOLDS by the Department of Census and Statistics
24 December 2013 In House Hold Income and Expenditure Survey 2012/2013: preliminary report At http://www.
statistics.gov.lk/HIES/HIES2012PrelimineryReport.pdf accessed 16/02/2015

THE ECONOMY OF THE CONFLICT REGION By M Saravanandan 2008 In Point Pedro Institute of
Development At http://www.pointpedro.org/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&page=shop.
product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&category_id=6&product_id=30&Itemid=72 accessed May
2013

THE ECONOMY OF THE CONFLICT REGION By M Saravanandan 2008 In Point Pedro Institute of
Development
At
http://www.pointpedro.org/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&page=shop.product_
details&flypage=flypage.tpl&category_id=6&product_id=30&Itemid=72 accessed May 2013

A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

efforts demobilization and reintegration, to protect girls and women from sexual violence
and to end impunity for crimes against humanity and particularly violence against women
(VAW). It also calls to secure womens rights to political participation in the electoral processes
implementing peace agreements, to increase womens participation in peace keeping and peace
support operations and in monitoring processes to ensure that the policies and programmes by
governments and institutions for eliminating discrimination has been/is positive.

The study
The thirty year war in Sri Lanka resulted in the rapid increase of female headed households.
The FOKUS 1325 programme focused FHHs as a key target group during phase 1. This enabled
FOKUS partner organisations to identify and advocate for addressing those needs and issues with
the relevant stakeholders. The further need to compile more systematically gathered information
on the post conflict situation particularly of FHHs including widows in the former border villages
of the Anuradhapura district, namely those who live in Kebethigollewa and Maha Vilachchiya
Divisional Secretariat Divisions (DSDs) is addressed here by. This study therefore, especially
conducts an analysis of the Sinhalese community FHHs Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
(ESCR) and assesses their experience of the ethnic conflict.

Research aims:
1 To identify the prevalence of issues connected with physical security and violence;
2 To assess FHHs access to public services and participation in public life, including
local level governance;
3 Access to land and housing rights of FHHs including widows;
4 To identify the prevalence of underage marriage.

Methodology
This study is based largely on a quantitative approach and survey method that is complemented by
the use of qualitative focus group analysis and triangulation. The data collection was conducted
focusing a sample of 351 FHHs that comprise Sinhalese war widows in Kebethigollewa and
Maha Vilachchiya DSDs in the Anuradhapura district carried out from September to December
2014.
These respondents represent Grama Niladhari Divisions (GNDs) of 38 in both DSDs (Refer
Annex 1& 2). The respondents were selected purposively from the villages and GNDs. The
partnering organisation, Rajarata Praja Kendraya (RPK) engaged in community development
work; conducted the field data collection of this study. Due to time constraints, networking
difficulties and accessibility issues created by problems of transportation & travel, climatic
conditions and the agricultural engagements of the respondents, the original sample of 500
households had to be brought down to include 351 FHHs in the survey.

FoKUS Women

Methods of data collection


The data collection was conducted by a group of 10 community workers of RPK trained by
the researcher, through a three day session in September 2014 that familiarized them with the
provisions of CEDAW and UNSCR 1325, identifying the key themes of the study and developing
a draft questionnaire and conducting the pilot test in Thanthrimale. The assignment involved
monitoring of the data collection particularly during the months of October and November
through telephone conversations and emails to the partner organisation and FOKUS WOMEN
staff. A weekly schedule and weekly reports on data collection by the partner organisation was
proposed and encouraged by the researcher to ensure the effective management of the data
collection process from Colombo and to ensure regular and proper collection of data, that
otherwise would affect rapport building and the quality of data collected by the interviewers. Once
data collection process began, the researcher visited the field on completion of approximately
one month of data collection and conducted two Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) (Annex 3)
in the two DSDs based on the key themes that were emerging through the field data collection.
The Community Based Organisation (CBO), RPK was thereby instructed and provided training
to effectively carry out the two subsequent FGDs and provide the resource person with the
audio tapes of these discussions for purposes of triangulation and monitoring their quality.
The questionnaires on completion of interviews were sent over to the researcher by RPK for a
check and feedback on the data collected. After checking each questionnaire for accuracy of the
information collected, feedback was constantly provided to the interviewers back in the field
in order to ensure the quality of data gathered. These questionnaires were then entered into a
database by a research assistant who was monitored and instructed by the researcher.

Analysis
The analysis considers key themes for the socio-economic profile including details regarding
employment, income, material assets and access to other basic facilities such as water, shelter
and electricity. The status of the FHHs in a post war context in the absence of the traditional
bread winner in the family and the sources of financial support available to FHHs as dependents
of the primary bread winner is examined. How decision making is dealt with in the daily lives of
these FHHs is also dealt with. The aspect of VAW considers the source of violence, the responses
to such and the impact of war on VAW and also on FHHs including war widows. The theme
of early marriage reflects upon reasons for early marriage, any negative social or biological
outcomes of early marriage and the solutions available within the communities to alleviate
these. The issues of land use and ownership by women inquire the processes of peace building
and possible factors of delay in its progressive institutionalization. The availability, accessibility
and the use of public facilities is addressed. Finally these womens awareness and involvement
in peace building is interrogated. The information gathered is analyzed using simple statistical
methods in conjunction with qualitative data from FGDs and the journal entries by the field
staff to form a more realistic picture.

A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

Limitations
A few limitations were encountered in this research. The difficulty of implementing the originally
planned number of 500 FHHs, was caused by the fact that widows as a result of LTTE attacks
on the villages alone could not make up the total number for the required sample size, therefore
during the first two months, it was decided to include the widows of the Sri Lankan armed forces
including Civil Defence Forces7, FHHs whose husbands were missing in action and disabled,
widows as a result of accidents during conflicts and health issues, separated and divorced women,
and those alienated or left by husbands to constitute the category FHHs. One of the significant
constraints in accessing the respondents was the difficulty in traveling to these border villages
due to lack of proper transport facilities, climatological conditions and the busy schedules of
agricultural work amongst these FHHs that had constrained the field staff.

The term Civil Defence Forces is used synonymously with home guards (gramarakshaka). These home
guards/village security persons have been absorbed into the Ministry of Defence under the Civil Security
Department. See http://www.csd.lk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=52&Itemid=59 and
http://www.defence.lk/main_abt.asp?fname=orgstr

FoKUS Women

CHAPTER II

THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC PROFILE OF FEMALE


HEADED HOUSEHOLDS
The following sample consist a group of female headed households which predominate
households headed by war widows and also include separated, divorced as well as women
whose husbands are disabled, who are totally responsible for their familys social and economic
wellbeing. The range of categories is therefore considered within the definition of FHHs in this
study where the decision making primarily rests on the female head of household; the wife of
the family or the female partner in cohabitation.
FHHs Marital Status

Number

Percentage

Widow

302

86%

Married

20

6%

Separated

15

4%

Divorced

0.8%

Re-married or in a relationship

2%

No response

0.8%

351

100

Total

The socio-economic profile looks at the education, income, employment, assets and other basic
facilities in assessing the FHHs social background.

Level of education
When taking the entire population of the current sample, 7.5 percent never attended school,
26.5 percent primary education, 22 percent secondary, 25 percent O/L, 17% A/L and 2 percent
reaching degree level.

A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

FHHs Level of Education

Number

Percentage

Never attended school

40

11%

Primary

124

35%

Secondary

66

19%

O/L

89

25%

A/L

13

4%

Degree

01

0.2%

No response

58

16.5%

Total

351

100

The level of education of the FHHs is notably very poor. The survey information shows
that amongst the FHHs 11% have never attended school. 35 percent have received primary
education only and 20 percent received secondary level education up to grade ten.
Level of Education of Children

Percentage Sons and Daughters

Never attended school

2.2%

Primary

14%

Secondary

20%

O/L

37%

A/L

24%

Degree

2%

Total

100

Among the children of these FHHs according to the recorded information of this study that
include nearly about 85 percent of the total number of children, however indicate a progressive
trend regarding the category of children that never attended school. Comparatively, it is a
lesser number of 2.2 percent from the previous generation, which represents an 11 percent
improvement on the educational experiences of the first generation of parents. The other
significant point being, the majority proportions of primary level educational attainments have
shifted in the second generation of children, indicating steady increments in the proportional
achievements of O/L (20 percent), A/L (24 percent) and degree (2 percent) level qualifications.
This situation therefore confirms that the group who never attended school is higher and
relatively more frequent amongst the older first generation group of parents than amongst the
children of the second generation. This indicates a slightly more progressive trend. However,
the incidence of educational achievement generally is still quite poor when compared to the
national average educational attainments8, while it seems to be relatively higher than that of the
previous generation.
The national level secondary enrolment is over 90% by R.S Medagama In NIE Kannangara Memorial Lecture
Series 25, p26 2014 At http://www.nie.sch.lk/research/Kannangara%20Lecturer%20-%202014-Eng%20Full.pdf...
ac_ March 2015

FoKUS Women

Employment and livelihoods


FHHs Employment Category

Number of FHHs

Percentage

Public Sector Work

27

10%

Private Sector Work

10

3.5%

Agricultural Work

144

53%

Business

2%

Other

17

6%

Labour Work

2.5%

Unemployed

64

23%

Total

274 (N 351)

100

Nearly more than a half of the FHHs engage in farming; paddy and chena (shifting) cultivation
as their main source of livelihood and income generation. This group represents a percentage
of 53. The data also show a very high proportion of unemployment recorded among the FHHs
which amounts to an estimate of 23 percent. Their engagement and opportunity for public,
private sector or business work is scarce and remarkably low.
Other Family Members
Employment Categories

Number

Public Sector Work

57

29%

Private Sector Work

40

12%

Agricultural Work

63

26%

Other

0.5%

Labour Work

2.5%

Unemployed

56

30%

Total number of members

226 (HHs 351)

Percentage

100

In terms of the information on employment status of the family members, this group largely
consists of FHHs children, dependent older parents and relatives, whilst a relatively smaller
percentage of male spouses both able and disabled are also represented. When compared with the
previous category of FHHs, this group presents a few progressive trends particularly regarding
their work involvements in public and private sector work engagement and in the lessening of
involvement in labour and other forms of irregular work. Further, the higher involvement in
agricultural work in the category of parents also seems to have halved and decreased whereas
the unemployment rates appear to be on the rise, which may be indicative of some negative
trends.
A fewer number of women are solely dependent on the pension of the husband for their
main source of income whilst maintaining a small plot of a home garden for their everyday
consumption. Some women with younger children and families do not have any formal rights
to the farming land, hence are unable to make much out of agriculture in terms of livelihood.

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A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

The second generation children of the FHHs engage in a range of work such as farming work,
in garment factories, as migrant domestic workers, in labour work (kuleeweda) selling labour
usually as domestic workers or in farming as in the case of women or as gramarakshaka (home
guards/village security persons). Other types of public sector work include few teachers,
community workers or some unspecified office workers.

Income levels and ownership of immovable assets


Domestic Income

Number of Households

Percentage

Rs 10,000 and below

174

52%

Rs 11,000-Rs 25,000

105

31%

Rs 26,000-Rs 50,000

55

16%

Rs 51,000- Rs 100,000

1%

337 (N351)

100%

Total

The monthly domestic income of these FHHs indicates that 52% of these households live in
poverty. This is reflected in the average income reported per month, which is below Rs10,000.00.
When these individual categories are further expanded and analysed, it shows that the reported
levels of income get even lower than the average national poverty indicator levels for these
districts9.
Permanent Ownership of Household

Number of Respondents

Percentage

Husband

45

20%

FHHs

121

53%

Joint (Nuclear, Extended or Conjugal


partners)

35

15%

Other

27

12%

Total

228(N351)

100%

The ownership of the household indicates that whilst the FHHs expressed that they do exercise
the legal ownership in 53 percent of households, an equally larger proportion (47%) also remains
outside their legal purview of this legal right, which may be understood with careful caution
and skepticism, especially when considering developmental work and female empowerment
efforts that would require these womens ability to take independent decisions regarding the use
of land and property. When considering the category of joint ownership (15%); these include
situations where an elderly FHH shares her household property within the nuclear family
According to the reports of Department of Census & Statistics - Sri Lanka, January 2015
the national poverty level is Rs3924.00. In Anuradhapura it is Rs3713.00 report DISTRICT
OFFICIAL POVERTY LINES At http://www.statistics.gov.lk/poverty/monthly_poverty/
accessed Feb 2015

FoKUS Women

unit that includes her married children. She may share this property which may or may not
have been legally written in her name prior to the demise of her partner or husband. Another
situation of joint living that emerged in this study is when a widow or a legally not separated
wife/partner continues to live in her conjugal, patri-local marital residence that does not very
clearly designate her ownership in the legal documents. The category other include situations
where widowed or otherwise estranged women/wives/partners returned to their own parents
families subsequent to the demise or loss of ones husband or partner and share the household
with the parents who are the rightful owners of the land/property. The data gathered shows that
out of total of 90 percent FHHs, a proportion of about 20 percent also live in temporarily owned
houses by either spouse, other family or close relatives.

Nature of the house lived in


Household Type

Number of Respondents

Percentage

Permanent roofing

257

87%

Semi Permanent roofing

27

9%

Temporary roofing

13

3%

Permanent floor

245

84%

Semi-Permanent floor

32

11%

Temporary floor

16

5%

Permanent walls

252

86%

Semi-Permanent walls

30

10%

Temporary walls

10

3%

(N351)

100%

Total

From about 82 percent of total FHHs, an estimated 70-72 percent live in houses of permanent
nature constructed using permanent building material, whilst a total percentage of about 30
live in houses which are either partly constructed using both temporary as well as permanent
or temporary building materials alone. This indicates that people in these villages are largely
settling down to their everyday life settings in a post war era.

Access to water for everyday needs


Access to drinking water for a significant proportion of these people (around 75%) is either the
protected well or the tanks that have been made available to them by the government during
the dry season. Only about 15% have pipe borne domestic water connections for this purpose.
Common taps are only available to 6 percent while 3% reported using unprotected wells for
this purpose, especially during the dry season. A majority of them (around 80%) bathe in the

11

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A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

traditional tanks (or wewa/ganga) or well for which about 15% said they must travel some two
to seven kilometers distance, while 24% said it is at least more than a kilometer. Only about 12%
rely on common taps or household water connections for this purpose. It is also evident that
about 40-45 percent of the households are using the water provided by the government.
Water for farming and agriculture are mainly through rain water and the traditional tanks. This
largely undermines agricultural work during the dry seasons and during droughts that often
prevail in this area. One of the main reported constraints to agricultural livelihood is lack of
rain for more than three to four months in the North Central Province that had affected these
womens seasonal cultivation work, particularly paddy farming agriculture.

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CHAPTER III

EFFECTS OF THE WAR


Reason for FHHs

Number of Respondents

Percentage

War and conflict

199

57%

Natural disaster

14

4%

Sickness

104

30%

Separated

0.2%

Divorced

14

4%

Other (Family dispute)

0.2%

(N351)

100%

Total

This study also attempted to assess the reasons leading these women to become FHHs. The war
directly impacted on 57% of these women who lost their spouses due to terrorist attacks on
their border villages or indirectly due to war, according to about 30% of the respondents who
attributed the primary cause to sickness in above table.
Out of the sample of interviewees, nearly 24% receive the salary or the pension of the dead
husband, while 72% do not. Out of those who dont get such financial support, nearly 31%
report that their husbands were not public sector employees therefore not a single kind of
financial support has been granted to them. Another group of respondents amounting to 23%
said that they are not entitled to a pension largely because they were temporary gramarakshaka
recruits during the war. Some of these FHHs also revealed that although a onetime payment of
Rs 200,000.00 was made, there is no consistent financial assistance of a pension or salary that
they are entitled to. Some FHHs (about 2%) also report that because they are not in possession
of the documents especially a marriage, death certificate or deeds etc, the authorities have not
been able to arrange any kind of assistance for them. Another group of 9% FHHs declared that
although they received a pension after the death of the husband it has been withdrawn when
their husbands fifty fifth birthday was reached. Significantly some other bigger proportion of
FHHs (about 30-35%) declared that although they provided all the necessary documentation
to the relevant authorizes, still nothing has happened so far. Thus expressing broadly on the
effects of war on these women and those of their families lives, they primarily mention that the
absence of their husbands in their lives is greatly felt and many suffered from that loss (about

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47%), and an equally larger proportion referred to the immense emotional and mental trauma
the individual women and their families of children (about 39%), parents and other loved ones
suffer due to the war. They also mentioned of the loss of rights to husbands property (9.5%)
that was the sole means of survival available to them in times of crisis when taking care of the
remaining members in a family and economic hardships (4%) faced due to the cruelty of the
war.

On educational attainment
A large proportion (35%) of these people revealed that the children dropped out of school
prematurely due to their inability to continuously focus on education in any meaningful way, as
these children lived in the bunkers and the nearby jungles hiding from late afternoon around
4pm throughout the night. The fear psychosis as well as regular attacks by the LTTE on civilians
reportedly made continuous pursuit and engagement in education impossible for these children
in war affected communities.
The education of members of these families suffer profoundly from been directly exposed to the
war. The schools having to either constantly close and reopen for indefinite periods of time and
the psychological trauma of the war has been severely detrimental on successful educational
attainment and personal growth in children. These conflict ridden environments further lead
to the poor development in the schools in terms of technical facilities, trained teaching staff,
infrastructure and social skills necessary for conducting effective teaching and learning exercise,
that is much required in conflict afflicted social environments to return to normalcy. The limited
availability or total absence of alternative educational avenues and resources to overcome such
constraints is also noted and emphasised by the FHHs, including widows and other populations
who were victims trapped in the evil arms of the war.

Violence against women


FHHs including widows displayed equal reluctance to comment on the question of VAW.
After considerable probing, some revealed that they are subjected to emotional, economic as
well as physical violence within their own families as well as largely within and by their own
communities as well as the society.
When formally raised the question regarding violence during the interview, they responded
by 78% denying its presence, 7% in the affirmative, and 5% declared reluctance to share their
views and experiences. Even those who agreed to its prevalence, more than 50% of them did not
provide any detail. The balance group of respondents said it was mainly found at the community
level, while travelling or in public places manifested in the form of psychological, emotional,
verbal violence in the form of remarks and abusive personal comments of a violent and sexual
nature. The FHHs also revealed that the communal harassments and name calling, gossip and
scandals are the predominant form of psychological and emotional violence they suffer apart
suffering from having lost their partners protection and care. They pointed out even when they

FoKUS Women

visit certain authorities in need of formal assistance regarding their problems; such unwelcome
sexual advances would be made towards them.
Most of these women referred to instances of emotional and psychological violence and abuse
rather than the physical. However, very few women (4 respondents only) ventured that, violence
in the household is present in the form of emotional as well as physical not only by their spouses
or opposite sex partners, but sometimes from their family members of siblings and parents
as well. They also revealed that within the households/ private space of the in-laws, they are
much subjected to harassment on the death of the husband which made them leave the in-laws
premises and return to their own parents and properties in most of the situations. These women
also said that they suffer much violence due to economic stress arising from not having a regular
source of income.
The responses to VAW included complaining to police by 25.5%, 1.7 % seek community services
and assistance while 1.4% said they do not complain to authorities. When they were asked why
they would not seek formal assistance and help to resolve VAW, three to four women responded
that the reasons of stigma and shame, lack of knowledge and empowerment, the non-availability
of related services within reach in their communities are largely the reasons for lack of strong
responses and inaction countering these issues.

The situation of early marriage


Approximately 19 percent of the sample married before the age of 18 years. This includes FHHs
who had married between the ages of 12 and 17. Another considerable proportion of 29 percent
reported being married at ages 18 and 19 years, and another 21% usually as early as 20 and
21 years. At the ages from 22 to 24 years 15% marry, while only 10 percent marry between
25-30 year brackets, while only one percent reported to enter marriage after 30 years in these
communities according to this information. A very high rate of early entrance into marriage is
observed amongst the FHHs, including widows. In the second generation also, this has largely
been followed and become the norm.
The main reasons cited for early marriage is the war (14%) and the lack of education
opportunities for the parents and children caused by the war (24%). 3% stated that not having
many alternatives or hopes in terms of better life chances or more progressive opportunities was
another cause.
The data also reveals that most of these early marriages end in separation, leading to multiple
marriages or divorce. Some women though few in number (24) also expressed that these
marriages are rather weak unions and the tendency to lead to unhealthy marital relationships
and misunderstanding is quite high. Further they mentioned that very often the young fathers
and mothers cannot give proper care to their offspring and would usually assign the care of those
to their mothers or older women relatives. On the other hand another group of 24 respondents
expressed that; the situation of multiple-plural marriages could be caused by men and women

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not entering into these marital relationships legally, but entering marriage through customary
practices or cohabitation.
Further responding to the question raised regarding possible negative influences and outcomes
of early marriage experienced by the respondents, these women declared, though very few
of them, that it resulted in the birth of disabled children and caused family problems due to
immaturity and inexperience of these couples. Further they also attributed to disruption of
formal school education as well as their status of being widowed so young and early in life.
While about 45 percent responded that there are awareness raising programmes and 20%
counseling available for the prevention of early marriage, 12 percent said there were no services
or programmes available to address this issue in the communities.

Issues of land use and ownership


The most frequently mentioned issues of land use within the current sample are non- possession
of legally confirmed and established boundaries for the lands that are being used by the FHHs
and their families. Another equally reported concern refers to the non-issued deeds and legal
documents of ownership or permits to those plots of lands to their owners: the FHHs and their
families, by the government. A third issue raised concerns the inability of these people to furnish
with critical evidence of proof and documents required by the government to expedite the
necessary processes or securing the land ownerships and rights of the FHHs. These respondents
also mentioned that inability to regain and establish ownership over the land acquired by the
government during the war for security purposes is another serious issue that requires attention.
Further, these land issues also reportedly cause considerable strain on harmonious communal
relationships and coexistence by paving the way for constant conflict between the parties
concerned according to 24% of the FHHs. Another 18% feel that it strains relations within and
amongst their own families and friends, maintaining goodwill amongst them, whilst 17 percent
said that there are no conflicts due to land issues.
The solutions provided by the government for addressing issues pertaining to land use drew
the following responses from FHHs. Some 10 percent of respondents said that the government
through the Divisional Secretariats has taken steps to issue deeds and licenses to the owners
of these plots who did not previously possess such legal documents of proof. Few others
(approximately 3%) said that land surveys have been conducted to ascertain the boundaries
and to establish ownerships of these lands. They also mentioned that a collective discussion
facilitated by RPK was held in their areas with the Provincial Land Commissioner,
Land Development Officer, Divisional Secretary and Grama Niladhari10. Samatha Mandala
(Mediation Boards) were conducted to sort out issues related to land ownership in these villages.

Focus Group Discussion with FHHs in Yakawewa village in Kebithigollewa on 4 October 2014.

10

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It was also visible that, some of the more serious issues pertaining to deeds, formal procedures
and processes associated with land ownership, land use and land rights are relatively less vocal
and unfamiliar issues for these FHHs. Hence their ability and willingness to engage and reflect
deeply on these formalities is quite limited and proof of the strained and scanty responses to
this question.

Public services: availability and access


This research also assessed the FHHs access to and services and public participation. In this
regard it was sought to gauge the services and facilities available and accessible to them when
conducting their everyday life and in meeting the necessary requirements and standards of
civil life. Hence the interviewees were requested to convey details regarding the reality of these
facilities and whether those meet their needs and expectations. Thus the FHHs responded
regarding several key services ranging from postal services, health care, schools, grocery shops,
the central market, banks and the marketing center for their agricultural produce.

Available
in village/
Town

Not
Available
in Village/
Town

Satisfactory

Unsatisfactory

Post office

30%

54%

60%

0%

Hospital

20%

61%

60%

2%

School

35%

46%

61%

2%

Bank

13%

64%

Central Market

14%

51%

Agri products Marketing Center

14%

56%

44%

0%

Grocery Store

48%

22%

Service Type

Total

(N351)

The above information can be interpreted and understood within a range of possibilities. The
quality of the service received is considered irrespective of whether their location; within the
village or the community itself or a long distance away from it. However, the absence of a
post office in a village or town may be a strong indicator of its level of development and rural
nature. Another indicator would be the distance that you may have to travel in order to obtain
this service. For example the respondents revealed that for 42% of FHHs travelled less than
6km to the hospital, whilst 21% travelled 6-25 km and 20%, a distance of 10-25km for same.
Hence a relatively larger group of people travel relatively very long and hard distances to obtain
these essential services, which cannot in anyway be compared to the experiences of travelling
and transportation that exist in the city. Usually the transport services available to FHHs are
extremely minimal while the regular transport service covers only about 3-4 bus trips back and
forth, to and from the village. The situation regarding the school education service is similar.

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While there are no schools reportedly located in a majority of these FHHs communal villages,
the distance they may travel in order to obtain the service is 1 or less than 1 kilometer in 23%,
1.5 to 4 kilometers among 30%, 5 to 9 kilometers by 16% and 11 to 40 kilometers by 13%
according to the reports and data of this study.
These realities are also applicable to the services such as agricultural products marketing and sales
centers, which are available in the city while being very sparse in local villages. These are more
easily accessible particularly to the FHHs who will face extra difficulties in the transportation
and negotiation of proper sale of their products within the traditional setup that is less sensitive
to needs and values of gender equality.
With regards to the purchase of everyday consumer goods, these women and their families
have access to very small boutiques and grocery shops in the villages (48%). However, these
offer very limited varieties of goods or choice to these buyers that would always be less gainful
and profitable in terms of returns of investment concerning the available goods and products
of purchase. Because it is the women who are largely responsible for purchase monitoring
of household level consignments of food and consumables within a traditional set up, the
nonavailability of more profitable choice of purchase in the vicinity of domesticity will make it
harder and more challenging when managing the triple roles of women.
Thus the situation of women, especially the FHHs including widows within the above discussed
context of public services should consider provision of more effective and economical transport
services to ensure their accessibility by establishing relevant service branches in the village or
through the introduction of manageable technological solutions to these communities (For
example phone and internet banking or learning facilities). In terms of more basic kinds
of services such as post offices and grocery shops, the government and the private business
owners could collectively initiate a plan that would effectively address the purchase needs and
expectations of these communities and women.

Peacebuilding
Peace is perhaps the single most ingredient or constituent element that transcends the
personal and reaches out to humanity as a whole, and investment in it is the most lucrative in
materialist as well as non-materialist ways. Peace has the power to diminish narrowly focused,
selfish individualistic aspirations and replace them with relatively more embracing collective
thought and goals that ensures the common good. Peace is a basic need, a necessity and an
obligation, anywhere, any country and in any context, black or white, North or South. There is
an absolute necessity for communities and societies to be well aware of their role and efforts in
maintaining peace and coexistence at all times, at all levels with great commitment, awareness
and responsibility.
In communities and societies where peaceful coexistence is disrupted and in disrepute, it needs
even more fervent establishment with great caution and intuitive indulgence, particularly by
those engaging in post war reconstruction and conflict resolution efforts. Therefore it is of

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primary importance how such initiatives are mediated and possessing thorough understanding
of the progressive implementation of such initiative. Hence this research considered this
elementary factor as an important central feature that is primary to other more peripheral
material transformation in post conflict communities.
In this regard we look at three specific aspects. Firstly, the prevalence of peace initiatives by
various stakeholders in the war affected villages. Secondly, FHHs participation in peace building,
resettlement, reconstruction and conflict resolution efforts in these war afflicted areas. Finally
concerns regarding youth unemployment and unrest are raised and have been added to the
current analyses as relevant points and dimensions for the comprehensive understanding of
successful peacebuilding processes in the post war community in Sri Lanka.

Peace initiatives and activities


The data and information gathered revealed very little effort in peace building and
reconstruction within these communities. These respondents reported very little
knowledge and awareness of such programmes and activities in the bordering villages
of Kebethigollewa and Maha Vilachchiya DSDs. Only 12% said there were programmes
while 34% said there. were no programmes and another 31 percent who reported a lack
of knowledge. Some of the peace initiatives include awareness programmes conducted
both by the government as well as by CBOs on ethnic harmony, peace marches, rallies
and programmes by Ranawiru Sansadaya, Sewa Lanka, UNICEF, World Vision and the
Tamil Diaspora. They also reported of training workshops and talks conducted on positive
thinking for the community. The longevity of the effects and transformations of such
programmes could however be ascertained only by the consistent and regular commitment
towards such pursuit by the initiators and the wider society.

Participation of FHHs
FHHs involvement or participation is quite minimal. The data gathered reveals that the
FHHs are largely involved (about 70%) in casting their vote at the election and taking part
in election meetings and talks (about 20%) by the political candidacy as passive, silent
audience. Only less than one percent FHHs reported engaging actively in community
organization work. These women expressed their lack of interest in politics and governance
while agreeing that time constraints contribute to the lack of participation. Some women
were also of the opinion that it was unsuitable to and a mismatch with the traditional
ideological image of the good woman. Two women declared that it is a result of lack of
opportunity and information to get involved in these.

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Youth unrest
Youth unemployment (especially the male youth) and associated unrest are other potential
threats to peace building in post war communities. The young people having only a few
options of employment or work that is usually linked to professions in security or Army are
cited as potential tendencies promoting violence and conflict culture amongst the youth.
Within the sample however only about 16 percent regard this situation as problematic to
their families while about 60 percent do not seem to regard it so.
However, for peaceful coexistence in the village communities this causes a potential threat
in many ways observed. Largely the responses revealed concerns regarding the tendency
for the youth to gang up with one another idling around the community when unemployed.
These situations build up to conflictive incidences and associations of unrest and disrupt
peace and harmonious co-existence in the community. The already unemployed show
a variety of reasons that explain their situations. Most of these frequently mention no
opportunities or openings to be employed, not in possession of suitable qualifications and
lack of vocational institutes and skilled training opportunities for the youth. Very few
males of 18 years mentioned that they are not interested in being employed, whilst some
could not work due to disability or illness.
With regards to the situation of young women and girls some special issues that are
specific to women have been addressed. These noted reasons are the lack of educational
qualifications and skills training, not having proper transport facilities and means to
travel to and back from work, not having suitable opportunities that suit their schedules
and resources, early marriage and lack of knowledge about the society, lack of political
support and not been interested in engaging in professional work outside the home and
community.

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CHAPTER IV

CONCLUSIONS
Socio economic profiles of female heads of households comprising several aspects of these
womens personal life such as educational achievement, employment and livelihood, income
and ownerships and access to basic necessities such as water and shelter reveal significant factors
pertaining to their life situations.
The notably very poor level of education of the FHHs with insufficient primary and secondary
educational attainments and high levels of non participation (at 11 percent), in formal education
are strong evidence of how difficult and challenging life is for those women living in the
bordering villages of the war zone. The somewhat relatively better situation seen in the second
generation profiles however, from a long term perspective does not indicate any far-reaching
change from the previous status quo and still remains below the national averages particularly
in educational attainment and employment.
A very high turnover in unemployment rates is recorded among the FHHs with remarkably
low levels of engagement in public and private sector employment opportunities and very high
engagement in agricultural livelihood. In the second generation children of the FHHs in this
regard show that, although a relatively wider range of work involvement is depicted, the children
also still remain largely confined to informal sector work categories. The rising unemployment
rates in the second generation on the other hand appear to indicate the parallels between these
two groups, while probably suggesting the changing attitudes of the second generation in
relation to their work choices.
Womens experience of poor access to basic services and public participation largely caused by
the absence of effective and reliable regular transport facilities reaffirms the under resourced
situation and neglect suffered by the communities living in the bordering villages of conflict
afflicted areas.
The effects of war on civil life is profoundly and equally damaging to all parties engaged in the
war; may it be adults or children, the terrorist or the terrorized. The multitude of negativity
includes damages caused to the smooth functioning of social institutions of education, work,
culture and the value systems. This is profoundly evident when a closer look at singular issues
is taken such as, the quality and the outcomes of education, employment, institution of family
and marriage, culture and the belief system. The range of issues and negative outcomes in
personal as well as everyday social life such as; VAW, disrespect particularly towards right to

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own property by women as well as early marriage and disrupted education are all collective
negative impacts and outcomes of the civil ethnic war. The fear psychosis and the emotional
trauma experienced facing constant attacks on the physical and mental aspects have caused
women, children and adult men much difficulty in performing their duties and responsibilities
of everyday life successfully and meaningfully. Similarly, early marriage observed in these areas
too is a direct result of the conflicts and the resultant of the lack of education of both parents
and children.
Initiating and implementing peace requires utmost committed effort to bring about sustainable
outcomes of such effort. The experiences and evidence available within the current analysis
suggests, that the existing attempts are rather scanty and scattered efforts of peace building
and that it requires much more commitment and further strengthening for more promising
outcomes. In conflict resolution and peace building, all forms of differences and bias should
be accounted for, addressed and eliminated allowing all men, women and children to work
towards peace building alongside each other in unison.

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CHAPTER V

RECOMMENDATIONS
Socio-economic status
There is great importance and relevance in focusing further on the specific instances and
socioeconomic realities of those living in the border villages of Kebethigollewa and Maha
Vilachchiya in the Anuradhapura district that have been revealed and emphasised in the current
study.
In terms of the FHHs socio-economic backgrounds, the noted incidence of poor educational
achievement especially when compared to the national average educational attainments, is a
key consideration and requires much committed work and attention towards its improvement.
In this regard the study showed that a very large proportion of children lost interest in school
education prematurely due to their inability to continuously focus on education as a result
of being exposed to the war. The fear psychosis developed in them through regular terrorist
attacks on the villages which largely affected these children and communities. Hence there is
an essential need for all educational institutions and schools in these war affected areas to be
equipped with highly skilled teaching staff that are adequately sound and trained in supporting
the educational needs of psychologically affected, traumatized children.
Further, the establishment and improvement of educational standards in these conflict ridden
environments in schools in terms of technical facilities, trained; technically skilled teaching staff,
infrastructure and psycho-social skills necessary for conducting effective teaching and learning
exercise, is a much required necessity in its return to normalcy in a post war era. On the other
hand the limited availability or total absence of alternative educational avenues and necessary
resources and transport to overcome restricted educational achievement is emphasised by the
FHHs, including widows, and these should be addressed as priority needs.
With regard to employment, the context of rising unemployment amongst the second generation
children in the border villages of the Anuradhapura district requires immediate attention. This
should be addressed with particular sensitivity to the role and relevance of unemployment in
post war peacebuilding as well.

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Improvements to employment would also have to consider the significance of securing the land
rights of women and girls, in a context where agriculture is their main livelihood (more than a
50 percent of these FHHs).Poverty prevails amongst a majority of these households (HHs) and
it should be dealt with, finding solutions to scarcity of water for agricultural work, lack of proper
or regular transportation facilities to take these products into the marketing centers as well.
In terms of household income, a significant proportion of the FHHs had no means of financial
survival compensating the immediate loss or separation from ones spouse. These women
had been solely responsible for the upbringing of their children and families in the absence
of support or services from the government or other such organisations and institutions. On
the other hand, the injustices and stress caused to FHHs in terms of legal and administrative
processes and lengthy procedures in the preparation of required documentation in resolving
this problem should also be addressed. Especially the officials of the Divisional Secretariats,
Urban Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas should be made aware of the need to regard and respect
the needs of the FHHs immediately, seriously and effectively.
Access to drinking water is also a very serious issue for a significant proportion of these people
(around 75%) and water for agricultural work. These require immediate attention in the
provision of purified drinking water and restoring the irrigation system attending to sustainable
economic and community friendly simple restoration processes for rescuing them.
Poor transportation to the village makes the villagers suffer a great deal. This has affected all the
important social institutions that especially include education, health needs and employment
/income needs of the villagers. Hence transportation facilities in general and quality health
service delivery in these pockets in border villages should be strongly ensured as a measure
improving the quality of life in these post war areas.

Early marriage
The main reasons for early marriage has been attributed to the war and conflict situation, the
lack of education of parents and not having many alternatives or hopes in terms of better life
chances or more progressive opportunities. This requires careful, insightful, long term planning
in terms of raising educational achievement, conducting awareness raising programmes and
counseling services for the prevention of early marriage and regulating these programmes
which are already available in the communities.

Land rights and property issues


The securing of legally confirmed and established boundaries for the lands that are being
used by the FHHs and their families is a necessity. Also speedy action and implementation of
procedures to obtain legal documents of ownership or license to those plots of lands by their
owners: the FHHs and their families, by the government. Action should also be taken to duly
regain and establish ownership over the land resources acquired by the government during the
war for security purposes of the armed forces. In this regard, attention and effort should also be

FoKUS Women

made to educate and empower these FHHs on specific details pertaining to such deeds, formal
procedures and processes associated with securing land ownership and land rights that are
usually very unfamiliar issues to these FHHs.

Domestic and sexual violence


It is important for the villagers to challenge the traditional discourse regarding single mothers as
FHHs in addressing violence against single mothers in these communities. These women should
be thoroughly made aware and empowered with regard to necessary skills and knowledge when
faced with the very sensitive issue of all forms of violence leveled against them and break out
of silence and inaction when confronted with such issues. In this regards, the service providers
who are necessarily highly skilled and knowledgeable should be well thought up and carefully
established and made readily available and accessible for FHHs in these communities.

Peacebuilding
There is a great need to bridge the everlasting gap and polarization that exist between Sinhalese
and Tamil ethnic groups, as well as all ethnic categories nationally. However, within these
communities, strategic efforts should be made to build up ethnic cohesion and understanding
between Tamils and Sinhalese by moving into areas of common ground rather than polarization.
Further, the sacrifice on the part of these families bordering the war zone and people living in
them has been instrumental in the relative feelings of security enjoyed by the people in other
regions of the country far removed or less affected by the realities of the conflict. Therefore the
government should regard the role of the people in these war affected border villages more
appreciatively, seriously and address their issues and problems with more urgency, commitment
and understanding. FHHs involvement or participation in peacebuilding efforts is quite minimal
and this should be addressed enhanced through the adoption of more meaningful, productive
and creative strategies. These would include implementing peace agreements, womens
participation in peacekeeping and peace support operations and in monitoring processes.

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The_Central_Bankof_SriLanka. (30 March 2012). Central Bank Annual Report 2011. Colombo: The
Central Bank: Government of Sri Lanka.
The_Central_Bankof_SriLanka. (2013). Central Bank Annual Report 2012. Colombo: The Central Bank:
Government of Sri Lanka.
Vasudevan, R. (2013, May). Everyday Resistance: Female Headed Households In The North And East Of
Sri Lanka. Retrieved February 15, 2015, from Graduate Institute Publications, Graduate Institute of
International Development Studies Geneva : http://iheid.revues.org/680?lang=enaccessed
Weforum. (2014). Global Gender Gap Report. Retrieved February 15, 2015, from eports.weforum.org/
global-gender-gap-report-2014/economies/#economy=LK

FoKUS Women

ANNEX 1
Statistical information on
FHHs in Kebithigollewa DS division 2013
GN

GN Division

Division
Nunber

16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
TOTAL

Kirimetiyawa
Thimbiriwewa
Kebithigollewa
Gonuhaddenawa
Waththewewa
Kiriketuwewa
Sinhala
Etaweerawewa
Pahala Usgollewa
Aiyathigewewa
Gonameriyawa
Kunchuttuwa
Halmillawetiya
Kanugahawewa
Eethalviddawewa
Galawewa
Bandaraulpatha
Kurulugama
Thittagonewa
Thammannewa
Herath Halmillewa
Kahatagollewa
Bellankadawala
Punchimudagama
D 4 Wahalkada
D 5 Wahalkada
D 6 Wahalkada

Population Information
No. of No. of No. of
Total
No. of
Families Females Males Population Widows

256
266
726
225
362
455
192
303
410
394
218
345
270
194
320
188
518
313
211
135
207
217
107
217
262
140
7,451

346
410
1524
371
574
815
312

368
417
1409
378
544
898
310

533
439
615
637
618
645
308
311
571
569
571
399
364
371
519
484
280
291
826
985
494
538
298
283
197
92
340
344
366
340
162
179
336
352
440
459
202
220
12,392 12,262

Data Source: District Resource Profile - Anuradhapura District Secretariat

714
827
2933
749
1118
1713
622

37
37
65
43
59
55
34

972
1252
1263
619
1140
970
735
1003
571
1811
1032
581
289
684
706
341
688
899
422
24,654

66
80
42
47
77
48
27
64
26
44
40
42
26
50
37
15
29
32
15
1,137

No. of
widows
proposed
for the
sample
12
12
21
14
19
18
11

23
26
14
16
27
17
8
21
8
15
13
14
9
17
12
5
9
10
5
375 total
sample

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A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

Satistical Information on
FHHs in VilachchiyaDS division 2013
GN
Division
Number

356
357
358
359
360
361
362
363
364
365
366
367
368
369
370
371
372
TOTAL

No. of
widows
GN Division
No. of
No. of
No. of
Total
No. of proposed
Families Females Males Population Widows for the
sample
Dunumadalewa
280
412
403
1,022
20
9
Helambagaswewa
219
443
435
794
16
7
Oyamaduwa
457
805
793
1,641
18
8
Maha Vilachchiya
331
598
577
1,203
17
9
Kuda Vilachchiya
323
651
588
1,184
12
5
Kiralpetiyawa
286
598
568
1,085
11
5
Pemaduwa
389
740
724
1,510
14
6
Randuwa
437
815
749
1,465
17
7
Palugaswewa
301
652
546
1,167
9
4
Mannaramhandiya
369
1011
963
1,665
19
7
Thanthirimalaya
304
498
518
1,215
18
7
Dematamalgama
329
558
532
1,217
23
12
Nelumvila
451
1325
1324
1,691
21
9
Sandamaleliya
376
738
817
1,468
19
8
Athdathkalliya
349
558
484
1,240
17
7
Navodagama
454
999
939
1,657
19
8
Thuppitiyawa
306
558
565
1,102
16
7
5,961 11,959 11,525 22,326
286
125 total
Population Information

Data Source: District Resource Profile - Anuradhapura District Secretariat - 2012

FoKUS Women

ANNEX 2
Selected GNDs from Kebithigollewa for sample
16 Kirimetiyawa Kirimetiyawa, Udangawa, Handagalaralapanawa
17 Thimbiriwewa - Kovilbeddawewa, Handalagama
18 Kebithigollewa - Kebithigollewa, Horowpathaana para, Visse (20) Wela
19 Gonuhaddenawa - Ikiriyagollewa, Gonuhaddenawa, Galkadawala
20 Waththewewa - Waththewewa, Appuwewa, Mahapuliyankulama
22 Sinhala etaweerawewa - Sinhala etaweerawewa, Elapathwewa, Garida ulpatha
23 Pahala Usgollewa Pahala Usgollewa, Ihala Usgollewa
24 Aiyathigewewa - Aiyathigewewa
25 Gonameriyawa - Gonameriyawa, Kolibendawewa, Medawewa, Guruhalmillewa,
26 Kunchuttuwa- Kunchuttuwa, Dutuwewa, Maha ralapanawa, Kela puliyankulama, Maha
halmillewa
27 Halmillawetiya Yakawewa, Halmillawetiya, Vihara Halmillewa
28 Kanugahawewa - Kanugahawewa, Thalgahawewa, Nikawewa
29 Eethalvidda Wewa Puliyankulaya, Galkandewa
30 Galawewa Rambakepuwewa, Mahanetiyawa
31 Bandaraulpatha-Bandaraulpatha, Kalawedi Ulpatha
33 Thiththagonewa Thiththatagonewa, Mahakatuwaragollewa, Mahana Beddawewa
34 Thammannawa - Thammannawa , Siyambalagaswewa
35 Herath Halmillewa- Herathhalmillawa, Maha Olugaswewa
36 Kahatagollewa - Kahatagollewa, Mawathawewa
37 Bellankadawala Bellankadawela Konwewa, Pahalawe (15) Kanuwa
38 Punchimudagama Punchimudagama, Kaduruwewa
40 D 5 Wahalkada - D 5 Wahalakada
41 D 6, Wahalkada - D 6 Wahalakada, D 7 Wahalakada, D 8 Wahalkada

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A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

Selected GNDs from Maha Vilachchiya for the sample


356 Dunumadalewa - Dunumadalewa
357 Helambagaswewa Helambagaswewa, Nabadagasdigilya, Elapathgama
358 Oyamaduwa Oyamaduwa, Perunkulama
359 Maha Vilachchiya Maha Vilachchiya, Bogashandiya
361 Kiralpetiyawa - Kiralpetiyawa
362 Pemaduwa - Pemaduwa
363 Randuwa- Helambagaswewa
364 Palugaswewa Yaya Thuna (3), Ashokamaalaagama
365 Mannaramhandiya - Mannaramhandiya
366 Thanthirimale Thanthirimale, Ruwangama, Dodamvila, Ihala Thanthirimalaya,
Medawachchieliya
367 Dembatamalgama - Dembatamalgama, Bogoda, Kivulekada, Ruwanpura
368 Nelumvila - Nelumvila
369 Sandamaleliya Sandamalgama, Sandamalgama
370 Athdathkalliya- Millawetiya
372 Thuppitiyawa Godagahawewa, Siyambalagaswewa

FoKUS Women

ANNEX 3
NARRATIVES FROM FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSIONS
Backgrounds
Kebethigollewa
FHHs including widows representing GNDs: 27 Halmillawetiya, 18 Kebethigollawa, 28
Kanakanugahawewa.
The representatives of the FGD mostly include widows by the 2006.06.15 LTTE bus bomb
which exploded in Yakawewa village in Kebethigollewa, some through illness in the liver and
other forms of illnesses. Some reported that their husbands had been abducted during chena
cultivation or tending to cattle on the farm land. These women were of 26-35 years of age with
small children or largely school going children when the disaster befell them. They are mainly
farmers, engaged in irregular labour work, except for one who is a teacher in the village school.
About 5 to 7 reported that they do receive the pension of their husband or received it after the
death of their husbands.

Maha Vilachchiya
In Maha Vilachchiya, and Thanthrimale the group of widows represented those who lost their
husbands mainly due to illness, missing due to abduction, divorce and separation. Few women
received the pension, whilst the others reported not receiving any form of compensation.
These women are largely dependent on the pension of the husbands and agriculture for their
livelihood. Some revealed that they are not paid the pension after the age of 55.

Child marriage
Kebethigollewa
Anura Kumari became a widow; at 27 years with three children. Her eldest daughter got
married at the age of 16. Her husband was addicted to drugs (ganja) . There had been constant
fights and arguments in their relationship from the very beginning of their marriage. They
were 10 years apart in age, and had one child between them. Later the husband found a job as a
gramarakshaka. They got a piece of land from one of her relatives who gifted it to their daughter
and they took a loan and built a small house on that land. Since her daughter signed for the
loan, she had to pay it back as her husband refused to do so; so she went abroad and settled the
loan. While she was abroad, her husband filed for divorce and when her daughter refused to

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A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

grant the divorce, he came to their house and tried to murder her daughter with a knife. She
was admitted to hospital and kept there for about 2 weeks, he was taken into custody, but the
very next day from this assault, he was released on bail!. When the daughter returned from the
hospital, they were all very frightened for her life as he kept threatening to kill her. She granted
him the divorce to ensure safety, and gave her son to the temple and went back abroad.

Maha Vilachchiya
Mala said her husband was also a home guard/village security person (gramaarakshaka), in
1997 he was paid a salary of Rs2000.00. She had 4 children, 3 girls and a boy and his salary was
not enough, therefore she did many other odd jobs and labour work in order to meet expenses.
When the son grew up, he got a job in the Civil Defence Force and fed the family. They also
had to abandon their property and live in another village for safety, and they would frequently
spend the night in the jungle. The children therefore could not do their education well and left
school and got married at 18 and 19 years. There were no land issues, as the lands were sorted
out from the very beginning.
There are a lot of FHHs including war widows who married as early as 15 or below 18 in these
villages. The main reason is they said we are very uneducated, not having received a proper
formal education. This is the main reason for it. Now most of these women do know that,
getting into early marriage so young is wrong and should not to be done. There is no proper
knowledge regarding the gravity of marital relations, marriage or even adult emotions such as
love. For some of these women, it had been their parents wishes to get them married early and
the children did not know how to disagree to such a decision, which was a big disadvantage.
Now, been widowed so young, we suffer from such decision. However, we are very strongly
resolved not to let the same thing happen to our children.

Impact on children and camp life


Kebethigollewa
Mallika lost 15 members of her family including 5 sisters and their family members from the
LTTE bus bomb in 2006. She was suicidal herself, having survived with her small child who was
about 5 years old. We were in the temporary camp; it was a very difficult life. However, people
from my village helped me to stand up and face this life for the sake of my child. My husbands
family had no contacts and could not help me either as they were also very troubled by the war,
I also did not seek their help, knowing their difficulties. Now my child is about 15 years old. But
there is a huge impact on his behavior, he is very stubborn and refuses to attend school. He has
joined a gang of boys loitering around the village.
Manel is a teacher. She said that her child was only 4 when the husband was killed by the LTTE
shootings. He is now over attached to me, would not leave me for a even a day, but his over
whelming attachment scares me. I think my child is mentally insecure and thinks that something

FoKUS Women

might happen to me as well. I worry for him. This is a serious problem for children. These children
have lived in these camps for years, their attitudes, thinking and behavior are so different and
coarse. They are not interested in the pursuit of education. Their teachers are also not aware
of how they should be looking after them and treating these children. They also contribute to
discriminatory treatment of these children who are distressed by the war. Sometimes, their skills
are not recognized and they are not encouraged to develop their talents and improve those. Not
having their fathers has led to them being excluded from opportunities in school, especially by
the teachers and fellow community members. They give these opportunities to their favourites,
better off children and boys, who dont have those bitter experiences. Therefore the distressed
children refuse to go to school due to this unfair treatment. This is the double jeopardy for
war widows and FHHs. This happened to us even in sports, even if our children won, still they
would not be chosen. Our deprivation and loss is held against us to even further worsen our
situation, especially with regard to attitudes towards our innocent war affected children, which
has put their life chances at a heavy/severe risk. During post conflict resolutions, these issues
and issues of similar nature have received relatively very poor attention. But these are very
significant problems that require attention and the understanding of all stakeholders of the war.
Sumana said that they used to go back home during the day and stay in the jungle at night.
When the LTTE attacked the village, we moved into temporary security camps. The experience
of camp life was another big challenge. The space was so small, we had a small space separated
by plastic sheets (itiredda) and there was no privacy at all, there were many families housed in
the same camp. There was lot of conflict going on within these camps, as these people were from
different villages and were strangers to each other. Lots of goods and things were stolen and
lost. Education of the children was really disturbed; the children from the camp went to school
after 1.30pm and only for two hours. This had a really bad effect on the childrens education
and aspirations. Finally when we returned to our own villages, it was such a big relief. Many
organizations helped us settle back in to life, and we are really grateful for that.
The camp was set up in the school premises and with all our poor mental situations, we were
also asked to leave these premises and to build up our own houses. Those who had very young
children could not comply with this requirement, so they suffered even more, unable to leave
behind their children and attend to house construction etc. We had no support in this regard,
adjusting to these demands. Despite their school education being limited to two hours a day,
when these children went to school, they were segregated and called camp children and treated
discriminatively by the city folk, both by parents and children. This was really bad influence on
the already damaged mentalities of these poor child victims and they hated their educational
experience and having to attend school. Back in the village, our school has only 5 class rooms
and grades from 1-5. We have 5 teachers and 60 children in our school in Yakawewa.

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A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

Land rights and property issues


Kebethigollewa
When my husband was alive, we worked on our own farm land and we also built up our house
in the common property that belonged to his mother. However it was not written in his name.
This was jointly used by all the members in the family commonly. We had two acres that we
cleared and prepared for cultivation spending our money. My husbands father also owns about
7 acres of land. My husband was the eldest in his family; his brothers were all very small then
and could not engage in cultivation work. It was my husband who cultivated the farm land and
fed the family along with his parents. When my husband was killed by the LTTE in 2006, I also
went to live in another village with my children. There was no way I could cultivate on them
as the children were small 13, 8 and 1 years respectively and I had to educate them somehow.
Now these lands are used by his family; his brothers who are now adults, and the land that we
cultivated is leased out to another outsider by his mother, who was holding the license to this
land. Hence we cannot work on our own farm, now that the children are bigger. My daughter
is 21 years and married with a child, and my boy is 16 years. They need these properties now
to work, and these were used by us before and they have the right to these from their father.
We did not receive any benefit from these by way of our shares of money or cultivation. When
we ask for these lands to be returned to us, his mother says that when she is dead, we can have
them. But there is no evidence as to what has really happened to these lands. I would be very
grateful for any assistance from some agency to get this matter sorted out and to do justice to
my children and me by it. We live in Vissewela because I wanted to educate my children.
The RPK staff added that the Urban Council surveyor and the Provincial Council chief surveyor
conducted a workshop for the Grama Niladharees to educate them regarding surveying. The
Divisional Secretary felt that this is one of the main constraints for the Grama Niladharees
inability to intervene effectively and resolve land disputes in the village. RPK mediated in this
process to meet the community and the government officials concerned.

Maha Vilachchiya
Kusumawathie lost her husband while he was working in the Archaeology Department. She
receives her husbands pension of Rs14,000. When the government granted lands through
Jayabhoobi permits, they hadnt been eligible as they were beneficiaries of government workers.
They felt it was very unfair.

Domestic and sexual violence


Kebethigollewa
Nilanthi is a young widow. She reported that when I went to get a letter from the Grama
Niladnaree of Kebethigollewa for his signature certifying the letter for my land, to sign the letter
he asked me to pay a sum of Rs 20,000.00. We tried to complain to the Land Registrar in this

FoKUS Women

area with the help of RPK, but it has no resolution so far, so I gave up on that essentiality. This
sort of bribes and force from similar parties in everyday life is a regularly experienced by most
widows who do get the pension of their dead husbands. Not only that, sexual violence is also
very common. For example when we go to some work done in a state office, they would ask for
our telephone numbers and keep calling and pestering us to have sex with them making indecent
suggestions and proposals. This is very common and extremely problematic and causes much
fear in single, unattached and destitute widows.
Some women said that at the community level their experience of such violence is limited as the
entire community is related to each other one way or another.
When we were in the village, the men were also abducted by the LTTE. My husband and two
brothers were taken and gone missing while they were working on the farm. I am still hoping
that he would return, as we did not find their bodies. It still has been not confirmed . During
such attacks some of the women were also sexually assaulted. One of the older grandmothers
had a bottle stuck into her vagina, assaulted and killed. There was a lot of physical violence
towards civilian women as well. It was so frightening. Some of the villagers also died from the
attacks of the reptiles in the jungle, when we hid there for escape. We were hit from all sides. It
was so bad.

Maha Vilachchiya
I was only 27 when my husband died. The violence from the community at times was profound
and unbearable. But I faced it somehow and raised my children. Sometimes, sexual violence was
by the state officials. I had to do labour work to keep our income going and send my children
to school. Economic pressure was huge, also engage in agriculture. As a woman without my
husband, I faced numerous difficulties. Even if I dressed well and ate well, I used to receive so
much of curiosity and criticism from the community. There was gossip about war widows.
Not aware of such a situation.

Domestic violence by the husbands family who distanced us and had no contacts or support extended.
It was a very difficult and lonely life. But we didnt want to marry a second time, as the partners
might risk the life of the growing up children.
There are lots of minor and major incidences of violence. However, we cannot discuss them in
a large group of people.
No one has ever asked us how we lived our lives during and after the war, or how we faced this
challenge with our small children. Also, no one has ever asked us the impact the evil war had
on our childrens lives or what it has done to theirs. It is not until you asked this question from
us and we feel that very much.

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A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

Public services: access and availability


Kebethigollewa
Before the bomb in the bus exploded in 2006, we had requested the Pradeshiya Sabha minister
to clear the sides of the road for a few meters, because it was a huge threat to our security, having
the road banks covered by the thicket. But he paid no heed to our constant appeals and didnt
do anything about it. But immediately after the bomb blast, they sent out bakos and dowsers
to do their burial of about 70-80 bodies. Not only that, after this attack we were all in huge
shock, moved to the camps. In terms of income generation, we have requested a community
farm project to be established for the 31 families in this village. The politicians agreed but so far
nothing has happened.
We must travel 8 miles from the village to the hospital, we have no other alternative facilities
available here. Transport to the village is very poor. Only four trips and the bus does not come
after 3pm. The bus breaks down at least twice a week. The school service does not come to
Yakawewa, the crowd for the morning trip is too big, and they all cannot get into the bus. Some
days, some of the school children cannot go to school due to this great difficulty.
Those who had husbands who served as security personnel informed that obtaining the
pension was not materialized as they could not provide their birth certificates as this was not
the traditional practice of the villages in this generation of those who were born in 1970s or
before. Although these people had the marriage certificates in their possession, the Divisional
Secretary and other government officers always bring up the issue of birth certificates and this
requires support and investigation as a large number of widows are affected by it. For some of
the widows of 1994 or 2001 as old as 20-13 years, these have still not been resolved.

Maha Vilachchiya
Kamalas husband went missing when the children were very small. As there was no means
of survival she left her children with parents and went abroad. Her husband had been a police
constable. When she asked the police to help to get his salary, they said the service number
given was wrong and said to sort this matter out with the Police Headquarters (PHQ) and
nobody from this area helped. This was beyond her capability to attend to the PHQ, so she
gave up the matter. The husbands family did not help, it was her family who gave her lands and
supported her.
The public services are better in this area now with hospitals, better roads, transport, schools
and post office etc. This was not so earlier.
These widows also expressed their feeling that the war widows are largely cornered and illtreated
as a less privileged category in Sri Lankan society.

FoKUS Women

Peacebuilding
Kebethigollewa
We have an exclusive group of all Sinhalese people in these villages. Through the community
integration institute a programme was initiated where these villagers were taken to visit the
Tamil bordering villages of Thekkawatte. This helped to clarify many things and clear lots of
doubts. It was a very pleasant experience. We exchanged hospitality. They brought us clothes
and food items, we did the same. We had many such programmes to exchange our experiences
of the war. We visited the areas of Mankulam, Jaffna and Nagadeepa. During the RPK initiated
Mankulam visit, women in Mankulam thought that the Sinhalese villages were unaffected by
the war. A mother showed us the picture of her daughters wedding photo and said that the
LTTE killed their daughter because she escaped the organisation came home and got married.
We got to know about a lot of things.

Maha Vilachchiya
We used to feel very angry towards the Tamil nationals of Sri Lanka because of what happened
to us, but now that feeling of anger is less than it used to be. Because we are now better aware of
their stories of the war, which are very similar to ours.
Today we feel much happier because there is peace, even though there are severe economic
hardships and other forms of social inequalities. We were very courageous and lived in these
border villages. In fact, this sacrifice on our part is the reason why the city folk are able to
carry on their better life styles in them, less affected by the war. We deeply feel that the government should regard our role in the war situation more appreciatively and address our issues
and problems with more urgency and understanding.

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A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

ANNEX 4
QUESTIONNAIRE
A Study on the Status of Female Heads of Households including
Widows and Their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in
Anuradhapura District (border village sin Kebithigollewa and Maha
Vilachchiya DS divisions) - 2014
Questionnaire No:
Name of the Enumerator
1
2
3
4
5
6
7

Date

Divisional Secretariat (DS) Division


Grama Niladhari (GN) Division
Name of the village
Respondents name
Respondents age
Address
Information about the family (Information of all family members is necessary)
No Name of the Relationship to Age Marital status Education
Disability
member
the respondent
1 Respondent
1 Married
1 Not
1 No
attended to
disability
school
2 Husband
2 Unmarried 2 Primary
2 Hearing
3 Son

3 Widowed

3 Secondary

3 Visual

4 Daughter

4 Separated

4 GCE O/L

4 Speaking

5 Nephew

5 Divorced

5 GCE A/L

5 Physical

6 Niece

6 Other

6 Bachelors

6 Mental

7 Other male
relative
8 Other female
relative
9 Not a relative
1
2
3
4
5

Respondent

7 Post
graduate
8 School
leaver

FoKUS Women

9.

Unemployed

Labourer

Other
(mention)

Business

Farming

Private

Government

(as mentioned
in the chart
above)

Employment information (Information of all family members above 16 should be included)

Number
of the
member

Information of assets and income


Nature of
the land

Extent
(Acres)

Ownership

Not
permitted

Permanent owner

1 Temporary/ leased/
deed of gift

Sole ownership for


husband

2 Sole ownership for


husband

Sole ownership for wife 3 Sole ownership for


wife

Joint ownership

4 Joint ownership

Other

5 Other

Land with
the house
Other land
Paddy land

9.1

What are your movable properties?


Nature of the movable property

Description for available property or specify is none


is available

Vehicles
Saving bills
Fixed deposits
Shares

9.2

Monthly expenses of the family (Specify the approximate expenses of the previous month)
Necessity

Cost

Necessity

Food

Telephone

Education

Social expenses

Cost

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A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

9.3

Health

Agriculture

Transport

Cigarettes/liquor

Electricity

Other

Water

Other

Select the category of your gamily monthly income from the list below
Rs. 10000
Rs. 10,000 and less than 25,000
Between Rs. 25,000 and 50,000
Between Rs. 50,000 and 100,000
Over Rs. 100,000

10.

Nature of the house


House

Roof

Permanent

Temporary

Floor

Walls

3 Semi permanent
4 Other
11.

Source of drinking water


Source

Dry season

Domestic pipe water

Common tap

Distance (meters) Rainy season

Distance (meters)

3 Secured well
4 Unsecured well
5 Tank or river

(wewa or ganga)

6 Other
11.1 Sources of water for bathing and washing
Source during the dry season

Distance (meters) Source during the rainy season Distance (meters)

11.2 Sources of water for farming


During the dry season

During the rainy season

FoKUS Women

12. Information on the war and its effects


12.1 Reason to become a FHH
1
War
2
Natural disaster
3
Sickness
4
Divorce
5
Separation
6
Other
12.2 Is your husband still alive?
12.3 If he is alive, disabled or not?
12.4 Who makes decisions in your family?
Decision

You

1 Yes 2 No
1Yes 2 No
Elderly
daughter or
daughter-in-law

Son or elderly
male relative

All

Domestic
activities
Childrens
education
Family health
Spending and
taking loans
Social
Political

12.5 Do you receive the pension of your husband?


If not, why?
Did not deserve a pension
No government job
Unable to provide necessary documents
Other

1 Yes 2 No

13. Security and violence


13.1 Do you face any issues related to your security?
1Yes
2No
13.2 If yes, what are they?
1
2
3
4
5
6

From where
Community
Home
Work place
Roads
Transportation
Other

Physical

3Do not want to respond

Sexual

Mental

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A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

13.3 What is your response when faced with violence?


1. Lodging a police complaint
2. Accessing community services
3. Not complaining to anyone
4. No violence
13.4 Reason for not complaining when faced with violence
1
Fear
2
Shame
3
Lack of knowledge
4
Lack of social services
5
Other
13.5 How do you feel the effects of war within your house?
1
Lost husbands property
2
Lost property
3
Mental depression (for yourself)
4
Mental depression (for family members)
5
No income for family
6
Other
13.6 What are the problems you face/faced as a widow?
13.7 Do you work at night?
13.8 If yes, what are the issues you face?

1 Yes 2 No

FoKUS Women

Under age marriage and the protection of girls


14.

At what age were you married?

14.1

If you got married under 18 years old, has it affected you in a negative way?
1
Yes
2
No
3
Not willing to respond

14.2 If yes, please explain


14.3 Specify physical and mental status of the children born during this time period
1
Not well
2
Normal, healthy children
3
Difficult to take care as parents are young
4
Other
14.4

Reasons for under aged marriage


1
War
2
Lack of education
3
Lack of future prospects
4
Other
5
Other

14.5

Does your family practice polygamy?


1
Yes
2
No
3. Not willing to respond

14.6

If yes, what are the reasons?


1
Under age marriages
2
Lack of registration of marraige
3
Lack of education
4
Lack of knowledge
5
Other

14.7

What are the solutions available to reduce polygamy?


1
No ceremony programmes
2
Counseling
3
Awareness
4
Other

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A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

Land ownership and enjoyment by women


15

Issues related to land ownership and use


Issue
Undecided boundaries
No issuance of land permit
Lack of ownership documents
Cannot get back possessed lands
Other

Mark as

How they affect

15.1 How does unclear boundaries affect social relations?


1
Frequent conflicts
2
Bad relationship among family members
3
No problems
4
Other

15.2 What are the solutions taken by the Government to solve the above issues?

Organizing for peace


16.1 Are there any State sponsored programmes for peacebuilding? 1=Yes 2 = No
3 = Do not know If yes, what are they?

Programme

Who participated
1 You
2 Another family member

1
2
3
4
16.2 How does unemployment among youth affects peace?
1
Loitering
2
Creating conflicts
3
Youth unrest
4
No additional jobs for security sector
5
Other

FoKUS Women

16.3 Does youth unemployment affects your family?


1 Yes

2 No

16.4 If yes,
Member who faces the issue

Age

Situation
1 No employment
2 No employment opportunity
3 No training
4 No opportunity for training
5 No qualificatios for a job
6 No time for a job
7 Unemployed due to disability
8 Not willing to do a job
9 Other

16.5 Are there any special reasons for female youth unemployment?
1 Yes

2 No

16.6 If yes, what are they?

17

Do you participate in political activities in your village/division?


Yes
No

17.1 If yes, what are the political activities?


1
2
3
4

Active participation
Political decision making
Political organizing
Political awareness
Updating personal knowledge on
politics regularly

Inactive, normal participation


1 Voting
2 Meetings

17.2 If not, what are the reasons you do not participate in political activities?

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A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

17.3 Are you employed?


1 Yes
2 No

17.4 Do you face any challenges while you are doing your job?
1 Yes
2 No

17.5 If yes, what are they?

17.6 If you are unemployed please state the reasons?

Public services
18

Access to public services


Service

Post office
Hospital
School
Divisional Secretariat
Bank
Cooperative office
Money lending office
Agriculture products
selling center
Private medical center
Boutique
Public Market

Where (if there Distance


is no service,
write no)

Feedback/
Did you
receive the Information
about the
service?
services
received

FoKUS Women

18.1

Have you obtained loans? 1 Yes 2 No

18.2

If yes,
Money lending agency

18.3

Nature of the
loan

Amount 1.Paid
If not paid
2.Not paid
reasons
3.No loans

Educational facilities
Name of the school

Category
No. of
No. of
A/L
1 Primary students teachers Commerce
2 Secondary
section
1.Yes 2.No

18.4

A/L Science
section
1.Yes 2.No

Facilities in the school


1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

Facility
Laboratory
Musical instruments
Playground
Computer lab
Adequate English teachers
Adequate Science teachers
Adequate mathematics teachers

Yes No x

18.5

What are the common issues on education?

18.6

Are there any specific issues that affects education of girls?


1 Yes

18.7

If yes, what are they?

18.8

How has the war affected education?

2 No

A/L Maths
section
1.Yes 2.No

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A Report on the Status of Female Heads of Households and their Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Anuradhapura District

18.9

What are the health facilities accessible to you ?


Service

Government

Private

Maternity clinics
Childrens clinics
Midwifery service
General clinics (kidney)

18.10

What are the main issues related to your health?


1
2
3
4
5
6

No issues

18.11 Are there any special sicknesses in your family? If yes, what are they?
18. 12 Is there any sustainable counseling services to heal the negative impacts of war?

18.13

Government
Private or other

Is there any special/ important issues that you have not mentioned above?
If yes, what are they?

19

Do you know about the Security Council Resolution 1325?


Yes
No
If yes, what do you know?

19.1 How do you know about this resolution?

19.2 Is this knowledge useful for your life?


1 Yes
If yes, how?

2 No

A REPORT ON THE STATUS OF FEMALE HEADS OF


HOUSEHOLDS AND THEIR ACCESS TO ECONOMIC,
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
ANURADHAPURA DISTRICT:

KEBETHIGOLLEWA AND MAHAVILACHCHIYA


Sri Lanka has witnessed a rise in the numbers of female-headed households (FHH)
after the war. This includes those FHH in the North and East and also the military
widows in the South. Ad hoc interventions by the state and by civil society have
resulted in their concerns not being addressed meaningfully. A welfarist hand outs,
one size fits all approach to interventions has meant that their basic human rights to
physical security and right to be free from violence, socio economic, civil and political
rights and their psycho social needs have not been addressed.
FHH from different communities face various challenges. The FHH in the former
border villages struggle with young widows who have married at a young age and now
have to provide for their households while FHH in the North face militarization and
threats to their physical safety due to their physical vulnerability in addition to unsafe
housing. Further, FHH in the North are discriminated against by the Tesawalamai law,
which curtails their rights of ownership to land in the absence of a spouse. FHH also
face several obstacles when they access government services such as health facilities.
They also have to bear the brunt of being main provider to the household and to take on
the responsibilities that come with this role. The stigma and cultural ostracism they face
also needs to be tackled. The tracing of missing or disappeared spouses during the war
and those in detention is another concern that needs urgent attention.
The state also needs to address the needs of very young women who have been widowed
at an early age and the high numbers of elderly FHH in the North. In addition, economic
and social security for these FHH, their social welfare are concerns that need state
intervention. These concerns of FHH need to be addressed with their participation.
A platform that provides them with a space to take decisions and gives them the
opportunity to participate in decision-making on their issues needs to be created.
A lack of clarity on who a FHH is has hampered these interventions at every level. Eg.
single women providing for their household should also be included as FHH but are at
times not included. Human rights organizations and others working in related fields
in Sri Lanka tend to use the term widow to include many types of female heads of
households. This misrepresentation results in many FHH falling through the cracks
and not receiving state and other benefits and being unable to access their rights.
FOKUS WOMEN seeks to bring clarity to the term female head of household and
also to give visibility to the socio economic and other issues faced by FHH through
its research and advocacy with the state. Providing solutions to the problems faced
by FHH will contribute to building peace and ensure that womens voices from the
grassroots are heard at national level.

FOKUS WOMEN

34 A, Sulaiman Avenue
Colombo 5
Sri Lanka
Tel/Fax: +94112055404
Web: http://www.fokuskvinner.no