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Psychosocial problems and Coping Strategies of Women Headed Households in Sri Lankan Post War Context (A Social Work Enquiry)

Introduction Background to the Study The Women Headed Households (WHHs) are defined as a significant group of vulnerable people in the world. One of the negative impacts of ethinic conflicts is WHHs and it is not a new social phenomenon. The problems related to conflict affected women are dating back to Ancient Greek, Roman and Hebrew wars.This is also one of the historys great silences and to takes place continuously over the decades everywhere across the world. People living in conflict situation can be negatively impacted on their emotional, mental, spiritual and social- wellbeing. Kohrt et al. (2009), argued that the nature of war fare has been changing since the second half of the 20th century from inter- state to intra-state conflict in populated areas. It is visible, that the war has produced vulnerabilities to human rights violations, including disappearances, torture and sexual violence. Since the latter half of the century, combat primarily limited to military engagements between national armies has been largely supplanted by civil wars and regional conflicts that pit communities along racial, religious and ethnic lines. The result is that civilian populations are victimized on a massive scale. According to Ward and Marsh (2006), between 1989 and 1997, an estimated 103 armed conflicts were launched in 69 countries across the world.

Thereof, the civilian causalities during the recent conflicts are estimated to be as high as 75%, a stunning contrast to the 5% estimate from the start of the last century. A report of the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations states that women and children are disproportionately targets and constitute the majority of all victims of contemporary armed conflicts (Ward & Marsh, 2006, p. 3). The WHHs face both instant and constant impact of ethnic strife in many countries. In times of crisis, they would experience the death or forcible abduction of loved ones, sexual assault, confrontations and live threatening from armed personnel. Due to these repulsive experiences, they suffer extensive trauma or other mental health related challenges, or being compelled to assume duties that are traditionally or culturally not part of their life. Many women are living in abject poverty and despondency and they share all the war related devastations with men. As Thiruchandran (1999), asserts, Usually, the rapid numbers of households headed by women has all too easily been attributed to the detrimental outcome of the conflict (as cited in Ruwanpura, 2006, p. 1) .War also challenges womens sexual chastity and increases female dependency on male breadwinners and heads of households. They are also bound to undertake exclusive responsibilities for child rearing and care of elders, bear up sexual harassment and assault (Tambiah, 2004). In addition to the many pressures placed on them, women must contend with significant gender discrimination and the associated factors of poverty, hunger, malnutrition, overwork, domestic violence, sexual and reproductive violence. The problems and challenges that are being encountered by these particular marginalized groups are deliberately ignored and their voice also is suppressed during conflict or in an aftermath. Failure to address womens mental and health problems has

damaging social and economic consequences for communities (World Health Organization (WHO), 1995). Armed Conflict and its Impact on Women Below the study precisely focuses globally on WHHs and psychosocial challenges faced by them from various conflictive areas. This would help in formulating an idea to understand WHHs as a war inflicted vulnerable social phenomenon and which remains unaddressed. Women from the Republic of the former Yugoslavia suffer many psycho-social problems due to the brutalized war conditions. The United Nations (UN) safety zones were invaded by Bosnian Serb armed personnel and many women raped and other inhabitants were executed ruthlessly before their family members. The displaced had to cope with practical and emotional issues that have become increasingly demanding, while simultaneously, coping with losses, threats and the overall dramatic change of life conditions. Women who victimized for ethnic purification were forced to settle in poor living conditions and their disputes remain unresolved (Steve & Elvira, 2000). In 2010, Jayathunge points out, conflict in Iraq has massively ensued a huge amount of women heading families and it has been estimated nearly 740, 000 and left many others fatherless and the exposure to massive, existential trauma resulted in the tearing of the social fabric. After 1991 many Iraqi war widows became as breadwinners often going on empty stomachs to feed their families. According to an estimation conducted by the United Nations Development Program (2004), there are over 50,000 females attained widowhood in Kabul city, out of a population of 2 to 3.5 million. In many instances the risk to women and girls falling prey to sexual exploiters is exacerbated by reconstruction programs that fail to specifically target their needs, or address long-standing patriarchal traditions in many African countries. It is explicitly reported by

several humanitarian agencies working in Rwanda, Liberia, Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Colombia, and Sudan, the desperate discrimination is a greater impediment for women from accessing the property of their dead male partners. Moreover, vulnerability for massive sexual violence is also in existence, but these catastrophes are being downplayed by the concerned stakeholders (Jane & Marsh, 2006). Patricia and Miller (2006) state that women in Afghan encountered psychological and several culturally specific-forms of stresses, emerging out of day to day overwhelming situations. In addition to this, a fear- psychosis is strongly maintained among the women by humiliating their fundamental rights to education, employment, mobility outside, freedom of expression and rights to obtain health facilities. On the other hand they are vulnerable to become scapegoats for extreme sexual violations, beheadings and other forms of adverse acts stage by Taliban, government, international forces and other Islamic fundamentalist groups. It is widely observed female heads of households are particularly vulnerable due to their exclusion from social and economic services and the lack of social protection, prevailing in the country. Conflict in Lebanon, resulted in large number of WHHs who face unique and specific forms of challenges. They also experience grate delay in obtaining housing projects and relevant relief supports (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), 2009). During the outburst of war in Pakistan between Taliban, the North-West province experiences a heavy devastation and it made nearly 2 million people internally displaced. Constraints placed on humanitarian operators and lack of media freedom induces the situation more challenge to assess the atrocities and risks faced by the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The National Data base and Registration Authority registered the IDPs and provided with them National Identity Cards. However the all displaced communities were not simultaneously benefitted from this task and people belong to tribes were not recognized by

the government as refugees. Furthermore, the families, which were headed by women also, have been severely affected the above registration scheme. Specific groups, who are more likely to vulnerability such as women, children and elderly, struggled in obtaining basics needs. Women headed families were forced to return against their will though there were security concerns expressed (Global Overview, 2009). The atrocities inflicted in Bangladesh, when poor and landless Bengalis were brought down to Chittagong Hill Tracks as part of the device to cope up with a surplus population in 1973. It has led to abductions, kidnapping, and forced marriages of young women (Ganguly & Vogl, 2008). Khan (2005) also supports that Bangladesh women stand in front of long established forms of violence. The Women in Bangladesh face family members ill treatment, lack of rights for divorce and custody, lack of property rights, domestic violence and violence linked to displacement (as cited in 2008, Ganguly & Vogl, 2008) The peoples war was launched by Maoists in 1996 to liberate the country from the so called monarchy and established a communist state in Nepal. The children and women struggled to find safe place and basic services. In addition, Nepal tops the gender inequality index in South Asia, with a higher workload, lower literacy; low level of life expectancy, discriminatory practices (Kohrt et al., 2009). Women headed families in Nepal are subjected to encounter different forms of physical and sexual violence. It is critical that widows are being significantly marginalized, and this directed them to face barriers in receiving services. Many widows were forced to resort to prostitution as an only mean for their family survival (Global Overview, 2009). Internal conflicts are part of the life of Indian citizens and it is noticeable that internal displacements and compelled evictions are widely experienced by them in a number of regions. Dabla (2006) supports 87% of the widows were shouldering their orphaned

children and they are either employed or sustained by relatives, neighbors and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Furthermore, only 13% of them had to go outside their homes for earning money after the death of their husbands. The study also reveals after the death of their husbands, the women encounter emotional stress, sexual harassment and social undesirability. The second set of problems is related to mismanagement of home affairs, losing control over children and inferiority complex. The third set of problems is associated with loneliness, physical insecurity, over-burden of work and compulsion for

remarriage.Cambodian conflict also has created a great number of WHHs. It is observed women in cambodia are also at risk from landmines, domestic violence, divorce and abandonment. Internal Armed Conflict and its Impact on Women in Sri Lanka Sri Lanka is another great victim of armed conflict in the Asian rigion. It remains worst affected by the ongoing internal armed struggle in the name of liberation and so-called retaliation of terrorism. Sri Lanka obtained independence in 1948, after it was ruled by different colonial masters for almost 450 years. Indian proximity, historical and geo politics elements created a multi ethnic and, multi religious culture in Sri Lanka. Splits and rifts were prompted by British colonial practices and discriminatory policies between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils. It led to a struggle resorted for autonomy by Tamil armed groups. It ended up with deaths of more than 150,000 people and nearly 10, 00,000 of them forced to be internally displaced during different times of war throughout the country. The internal ethnic conflict lasted for more than three decades and brought massive and complicated destructions in every aspects of the country (Sarvanantha, 2006). Moreover, exclusively a new social phenomenon has evolved as Women Headed Families from the minority and majority ethnic groups. Over 80,000 women headed

households reportedly have been identified (Surendrakumar, 2006). A plentiful war related long lasting gender specific issues and challenges have been generated by the modern warfare. Though women and men suffer, many aspect of war affect the psychosocial wellbeing of women disproportionately challenged (Marrianne & Kastrup, 2006). In 1995, Landrine also agrees with this view and says While many women face atrocities of war come from socio-centric societies, where they characteristically are seen as their role, consequently, the failure to perform ones role as wife, mother or daughter may be interpreted as a failure of a person (p. 744). Thiruchandran (1999) discusses that although, war widows and some displaced women feel relieved to escape the restrictions of marriage due to the war, they also find they are still being controlled by patriarchal influences, such as, gossip, rumors, sexual teasing, harassments and violence ( Hewamanne, 2009, p. 1). Women are severely affected by gender related violence and uncertainty in crisis times, even after the rivalry is terminated. It is observed these challenges may be aggravated in the midst of poor income, frailty and frustration which frequently occur following forcible internal expulsion. Moreover, unequal access to essential services and goods such as food water, shelter, and health care, is a problem faced by many women in a post war scenario. Women who are heading their families face discriminatory treatment when commodities and services are mainly controlled by male dominated officials. The WHHs are unable to work through their grief despite the passage of time. With widowhood, they experience identity change, role adjustment and change in social status. In the traditionalist Asian societies like Sri Lanka, widows or women headed families face social, economic and legal hardships. Besides, the name widows or socially broken up families, they are subjected to socio-cultural stigma and humiliation. Their self-esteem is dramatically undermined; sometimes, the guilt for being widow is left to her destiny

(unluckiness) and they experience lack of social support and constraints in social interactions. In situations of armed conflict and political violence, gender based discrepancies are reinforced. The traditional safety and support mechanisms may no longer be operating, which mountains the insecurity and jeopardy for the women left behind (Jayathunge, 2010). Tambiah (2004) draws attention on women headed families in a Hindu Tamil perspective. Widowed women may dodge to remarry for number of reasons, because monogamy is highly insisted among Sri Lankan Hindu communities and they need to avoid further alienation from their community. The demise of a husband simultaneously symbols widow as inauspicious, sexually lacking and indirectly responsible for his husbands demise and may face sexual transgression, because there is no man to control her. Finally it would be crucial to understand the vulnerable situtions, where the harmful impacts of armed conflicts and politically motivated violence, hamper the WHHs in different circumstances. These can be mainly defined as before war occurs, intimes of struggle and retaliation, during conflict resolution and transformation periods and finally,post-struggle scenario. Coping Strategies adapted by Women Headed Households Seeking for support of formal and informal resources is highly visible during or after an overwhelming condition and it is a basic human attitude. Every community has its resources and supporting mechanisms, which are utilized by them to tackle their difficulties. However, strategies for dealing with difficulties may vary. In 1980, Kleinman stresses that one of the most common ways, in which people around the world respond when they are distressed is to turn to those around them for advice (as cited in Eyber, 2008, p. 15). So that in most of the situations feasible advice could be given to handle their problems, for example seeking out support from a traditional healer, priest, a key person or an elderly person. Moral

support and physical support also will be made available by these informal or formal resource systems in times of overwhelming situations or during aftermaths.

This is visible among Bangladeshi women nowadays, they really enjoy the affirmative situation due to the freedom of female mobility and it has changed womens sense of security living among a network of kinfolk (Ganguly & Vogl, 2008). In situations of armed struggle and political rivalries gender variations or gender roles may be challenged in some ways. The responsibilities and performance that are expected of women and men regarding their social and cultural tasks would be questioned and modified in order to maintain their survival sustained. Women are forced to takeover responsibilities and activities traditionally carried out by men. This may lead to the development of new skills and confidence as they become involved in rebuilding the lives of their own families as well as their communities. McKay (2003), on the other hand demonstrates the female identity and experiences are changed by migration and the way women can also be empowered through certain form of displacements (as cited in Ganguly & Vogl, 2008, p. 12). Practitioners and scholars suggest that people deal with the ground realities of their experience in an energetic mode, relentlessly insist on their survival and simultaneously rebuilding their lives. In many countries, like Mozambique and Angola, conflict affected women respond to their destructions in a collective manner and minimize the effect of the armed conflict on their families (Nordstrom, 1999). A new phenomenon is also noticeable in many cases and it has evolved into a completely new- fangled situation and the women who have lost their husbands have been empowered in different ways. Tambiah (2004) supports the collapse of familiar systems has propelled women into authoritative roles by default, including acting as breadwinner, head of


households and decision makers. Kumar (2001) on the other hand argues that women have different coping mechanisms and in many occasions of armed conflicts women have organized themselves to address the key issues they face (as cited in Eyber, 2006, p. 20). In 2001, Newbury and Baldwin indicated that in Rwanda womens organization such as pro-femmes were actively involved in shelter programs as they saw as an important first step for women to rebuild their lives(as cited in Eyber, 2006, p. 20). Besides, the women who face the challenges of post-war climate or got to live in an aftermath situation are empowered by humanitarian agencies, NGOs and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in terms of capacity building or sensitization programmes. Statement of the Problem Many studies had been carried out time to time by different scholars and institutions on WHHs in Sri Lanka during the ethnic conflict. Studies on internally displaced people in Sri Lanka have amply highlighted the trauma and the appalling socio-economic conditions confronting them (Abesekere 2002; Gomez 2002; Hasbulla 2001; Muneer 2003; Seneveratne et al 1998; Shakarya & Shanmugaratnam 2002). However, only a few studies have focused on womens unique experiences or empowering aspects of these experiences (as cited in Hewamanne, 2009, p. 159). Ruwanpura (2006) on the other hand supports, it is clearly observed that only few scholars concentrated on WHHs in Northern Province by case studies methods at a limited scale, where, predominantly war inflicted WHHs have been identified. According to an evaluation conducted in 2010, from Northern Province revealed that approximately 40,000 WHHs including more than 20,000 in Jaffna District have been recognized (Centre for Women and Development (CWD), 2010). Nearly two years after the end of combating between Sri Lankan Army (SLA) and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), women in the North Province are taking up a new


and challenging role as bread winners (United Nation Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), 2010). Sivachandran (2010) also found WHHs representing Northern Province, havent addressed by any articulated strategy despite their specific psychosocial needs, and social marginalization (UNOCHA, 2010, p. 1). There is a conventional practice in Tamils society that widows are given a stigmatized social status and such attitudes may prevent women and their children from gaining social acceptance and limit their access to essential services and facilities. Bearing this point in mind, there are many interesting observations can be made about the position of the female heads in the Tamil community in a post-war scenario. Therefore, in researchers opinion, it is crucial to understand the situation of female-headship in Northern Province and the ways in which this social group maintains household welfare in the midst of all social and psychological complexities. Understanding this particular issue requires an in-depth investigation rather than case studies in order to construct a comprehensive idea about this new emerging unfocussed area. Secondly, many women may be compelled to shoulder for the responsibility of care giving in the family in addition to unknown, new and unfamiliar duties are placed on them. If the household is facing disaster, it may overload women's capacity to cope as preoccupied with the needs of the family. This may lead them to ignore their own needs, especially after the demise of their partners (Marianc & Kastrup, 2006). Since many widows belong to very young age group; they have turned out to be a psychologically and socially vulnerable group. Most of the women who underwent severe emotional pain still have not completely recovered (Jayatunge, 2006). Therefore, it is significant to understand as to how they deal with their stressors and perceive the gender formations, which influence the coping styles adopted by this group and social, religious and cultural dynamics, attribute to them. The importance of


this notion is that it emphasizes the need for paying more attention on the situational factors, which may persist even in a war terminated climate or in times of reconciliation. The social welfare policies introduced by successive post independent regimes showed progress of Sri Lankans status relative to womens empowerment. Nonetheless, gender inequities persist and women who experienced the armed conflict felt the reversal of earlier gains in their social status (Wanasundera, 2006). Contribution of women to the labor force was low prior to the conflict in Northern Province. Cultural norms led Tamil women confine to household work and home based income generation activities. According to Sri Lanka Department of Census and Statistics (2004), the changing economic environment and economic stress existing in the present situation resulted in increased women labor participation in rural areas. During pre-conflict period women benefitted from extensive health care net work. However, the situation now has turned upwards down. Particularly in Jaffna, according to the Sri Lankan Department of Health Services (2003), the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) dramatically increased from 0.3% (1981) to 2.8%. Overall, 48% of households in the North have sanitary facilities, though the rate is lower among the women headed families and the prevalence of anemia among the female population in Northern Province, compare to preconflict period is significantly high. The Amnesty International (2004), reports, Women have no voice in the peace process. Wijayathilake (2004) claims sexual harassment and Gender Based Violations (GBV) are the prime concerns in the North Province (as cited in Wansundera, 2004, p. 3). In 2008, Ganguly and Vogl argue women experience greater poverty, health risks, have more mental health problems, receive less information, fewer work opportunities and limited opportunities for education and training than men when relocated. Hence, the


questions that remain unanswered are: What are the psychosocial problems faced by the WHHs in Sri Lankan post war scenario? What are the coping strategies being adopted by the WHHs to cope-up with their psychosocial problems in Sri Lanka? How far the existing poicies are efficective to ensure that WHHs issues are incorporated and rehabilitation, reconcilition procesess do not ignore them? Why the existing welfare policies and mechanisms are ineffective to cater and adress the needs of WHHs in Sri Lanka? Research Objectives 1. To explore the psychosocial problems encountered by WHHs in Sri Lankan post war scenario. 2. To find out and analyze the coping strategies adopted by the WHHs. 3. To measure the effectiveness of the policy deployed by different stake holders in-order to improve the wellbeing of WWHs in Sri Lanka. 4. To advocate the issues and possible remedies on behalf of WHHs in collaboration with different stakeholders working with the same interest. 5. To formulate more appropriate, local friendly intervention model for Sri Lankan WHHs. Research questions 1. What psychosocial problems of ethnic conflict are experienced by WHHs in Sri Lanka? 2. How do the family leaders cope up with their psychological and social challenges? 3. How far the existing supportive mechanisms and policies are effective in redressing WHHs psychosocial problems?


Significance of the Study in Social Work The visibilty of war WHHs seems to have influenced scholars and policy makers to a certain extent and has been accepted as an emerging challenge in the recent past across the world. But generally, it is viewed that being a widow or heading a family is a social stigma. The guilt for attaining widowhood is left to the persons own destiny/unluckiness (karma) in traditional socities and it is truly applicable to the Sri Lankan society as wel (Jayathunge, 2010). The issue of WHHs is still being discussed as a micro level aspect and its beleived, it doesnt bring any impact on national level but incredbily, this is a social problem also. Therefore, it is an undebatable responsibilty for social workers and an active role can be performed by them in alleviating the psychosocial impact, which is overwhelminglly challenging the welbeing of the WHHs in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, this moral and professional responsiility is stressed by the definition, adopted by International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) in 2004. According to the IFSW/ IASSW( 2004) Global Joint Definition: The social work profession promotes social change, problems solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Principle of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work. Social work grew out of humanitarian and democratic ideals, and its values are based on respect for the equality, worth, and dignity of all people. Human rights and social justice serve as the motivation and justification for social work action. In solidarity


with those, who are disadvantaged, the profession strives to alleviate poverty and to liberate vulnerable and oppressed people in order to promote social inclusion(p. 1). The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) apply to all people, whatever their circumstances. Promoting the MDGs in humanitarian emergencies and post-conflict situations, would lay a strong foundation for development over the longer term in developing countries. Gender equality is a human right and at the heart of achieving the MDGs and Goal three aims to promote gender equality and women empowerment. It is a prerequisite to overcoming hunger, poverty and disease (United Nations Department of Public Information, 2005). This means equality at all levels of education and in all areas of work, equal accessibility over resources and equal representation in public and political life should be ensured by developing nations, like Sri Lanka by fulfilling the above pre-requisites. This is a first step towards easing long-standing inequalities between women and men in a traditional society. As it has been defined as a professional changing effort by IFSW, social work may take an active part to eliminate the disparities and vulnerabilities prevailing in this proposed study area. Therefore, at least an initiative could be started by social worker from a grass root level to bring desired changes through this social work inquiry. There are increasing numbers of women of all ages and all ethnic groups, who are exposed to the consequences of armed conflict in Sri Lanka.They comprise of widows of the war, the displaced, orphans, victimized by abductions or alleged disapperances of thier loved ones, etc and may have special needs, as they suffer from psychosomatic complaints which are manifestations of psychological effects (Center for Womens Research (CENWOR), 2001). However, one of the biggest developments in Mental Health field in Sri Lanka was the governments approval of the Mental Health Policy in 2005. Its one of the major objectives is to establish a multi-sectoral collaboration within districts to establish Community Support


Centers, which promote community based rehabilitation. Besides, support in finding employment, and/or in engaging in appropriate livelihood activities (Ministry of Health Services of Sri Lanka, 2005). However, WHO (2008), has reported that the armed conflict is having its remarkable mental health impact on most deprived sectors at the same time, mental health services are hardly developed in the war affected areas. The student researcher, therefore, anticipates intervening into this neglected area via this research endeavor, since social work addresses the inequalities. The social work interventions would range from primarily persons-focused psychosocial processes to involvement in social policy, planning and development. These embrace counseling, clinical social work, group work, community particiaption, and family treatment and therapy. Another situation faced by women, has been the increasing lack of employment opportunities in the areas affected by the conflict including the villages in the North Province, the lack of facilities such as electricity, water and resulting poverty. This condition is further aggravated by the presence of large numbers of military personnel and military campsmaking women particularly vulnerable (CENWOR, 2001). IFSW proposes to work collaboratelly with governments, with other NGOs, with the UN, and the private sectors to support and policies directed toward under previledge. IFSW reaffirms the rights of vulnerable people to organize for themselves and their childrens advancement. IFSW seeks to initiate and support social work efforts in improving quality of life of these marginalised sector. To brigdge this lapse social workers often work in collaborations with other stakeholders and use advocacy and community organizations skills. Social workers may perfom another vital role as community workers at macro level.The WHHs involve a complex set of interactions between personal characteristics and a communitys resources and opportunities. Community practice combines work with


individuals and families through community participation. The focus becomes enhancing resources and opportunities along with the present capacities to take advantage of these. A comprehensive and local specific model that addresses psychosocial issues and social disharmony is necessary in promoting WHHs quality of life. When examining the social problems and ways in which social workers would help to alleviate them, social workers can turn to the statement of Ethical Principles for guidance. In 1983, Guzman states one of the fundamental social work beliefs is respecting basic rights of the clients. Furthermore, it requires that all people have the right to be treated with respect and dignity, and by respecting this, social worker ensures that every individuals human rights are respected. Each and every individual has the right to be treated as a whole, which requires the social worker not only to be concerned with individuals, but also their family, community, and environment. When an individual is overwhelmed by an unpleasant condition, there are a number of factors inter-connected for his/her vulnerablity (Ife, 2001).Therefore, its social workers prime responsibility to perceive the persons environment, as to how does it affect the persons life. The professional should examine micro, mezzo and macro system in order to draw a comprehensive intervention plan to treat the person as a whole individual. As a professional, social workers carry a role to apply the principle of social justice against all forms of descrepancies at all levels, including discrimination in relation to ones gender, ethnic or socio-economic status. Social workers must work together to redress the unequal treatment that aggrevates social unrest. by challenging unjust policies and practices at every level. This includes to make sure that those most fragile enjoy resources first, and that the resources are distributed fairly. Social worker can also look into their professional code of ethics of their own countries that also are rooted in social justices issues. Studies of


different codes of ethics have demonstrated much similarity between them. IFSW recognizes that human rights are fundamental to all persons, as individuals and collectives. Human rights cannot be guaranteed to all when almost a billion people around the world struggling for their fundamental needs. Social work also involves programs like case work, group work, community work, researches and social action as preventive services. Social work also strives to promote human well-being by enhancing psychosocial status of people to improve their social conditions. Social work deals with socially disadvantaged groups and remedial services focused on the social problems like challenges in adjustment with unfamiliar environment and role conflict. Social worker plays a leading role in developing the knowledge that formed the basis of social work practices for the clients empowerment( knopka, 1988), since empowerment is recognised as an important aspect by IFSW and social work. Finally, one of the crucial responsibilities of a professional social worker is to create a conducive enviornment to his/her client for a better social life. Therefore, this study will formulate an intervention strategy to upgrade thepresent condition of the WHHs by mainly applying, case work, community organization and mobilization skills in Sri Lanka, which would directly improve the application of social work profession and social work practices.