• International

    Suriya is part of the regional SANGAT South Asian network for training women in gender and empowerment and the Asia Pacific Forum for Women, Law and Development which works as a regional network lobbying with different UN mechanisms on women’s rights.   We also worked closely with the International Network – Asia Pacific Women’s Watch in producing a lobby document on women’s economic rights and empowerment in conflict and post-conflict contexts.

    Members of our Staff, Coordinating Committee and Advisory Board periodically participate in international trainings, workshops, seminars and conferences, particularly in the South East Asian region.

  • National

    The Women’s Coalition for Disaster Management (WCDM) Network was set up in 2005 as a response to the large scale gender concerns in the post tsunami context. Women’s groups and organizations mobilized and formed a collective forum to raise women’s rights and gender concerns with state and humanitarian actors responding to the post tsunami resettlement and reconstruction process.

    Suriya has continued to support and strengthen other women’s organizations in the district through the WCDM network, to enable collective advocacy and lobbying on issues such as, migration and trafficking, violence against women, disaster response and preparedness, environmental issues, disappearances, development planning and women’s active engagement in local democratic processes.

     In January 2014 a member organization – Community Development Foundation (CDF) – took on the Secretariat role of the WCDM Network in a rotational capacity.

    Suriya is both an active member, and has also supported other networks and civic groups, in the general work of collective activism.  These include:

    • Batticaloa Peace Committee
    • Colombo GBV Forum
    • Koinonia Women’s Crisis Centre
    • Migrant Network
    • Minmini Seithihal – Women’s News Network
    • Mullaitheevu GBV Forum
    • North-East Women’s Action Network
    • GBV Network – North

  • Library

    Suriya’s Library is situated in our main office and is open to the public daily from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm, except Thursdays, Sundays and Public Holidays.  It is primarily a Reference Library.

    We have a comprehensive collection of books, publications, journals, newspapers, newsletters, photo archive and audio-visual materials in both the Tamil and English languages.

    Our staff has produced short documentary films for advocacy purposes and we have an ongoing commitment to document women’s activism in the Batticaloa District through photographs, audio-visual materials, interviews and the collection of oral narratives.

    More than 2,500 Tamil and English books are currently available in our Library covering a wide range of issues on gender and feminist theory….

    • Women and Development
    • Women and Human Rights
    • Women and the Law
    • Women in South Asia
    • Violence Against Women
    • Women and Globalisation
    • Dalit Women’s Movement
    • Women in the Cinema
    • Women and the Environment
    • Women and Health
    • Women’s Literature
    • Women and War/Peace
    • Migrant Women Workers
    • Children’s Books
    • Tamil and English Dictionaries
    • Local and Foreign Journals on: Society, Feminism and Literature

     We have increased our stock of reference materials on gender and feminist theory in recent years.  While the public accesses our Library and Resource Centre, our Suriya staff also utilises the materials for research, policy advocacy, campaigns and reports.  We collect articles from newspapers related to women and children under a broad range of issues as well as those where Suriya has been featured in the media.

  • Photo Archives

  • Publications

    Penn Journal

    The feminist journal “Penn (Woman) Journal” has been published by Suriya since 1996. Currently, we publish 2 issues annually dealing with a variety of women’s rights issues, providing voice and space for women writers to express their views. Penn Magazine has been recognised as an important Tamil language journal and has been regularly referred to in the mainstream media television programs regarding women’s rights.  Several women editors have emerged with a feminist approach through our work with the Women Writers’ Group.

    Suriya publishes 4 newsletters annually. Our newsletters have been used widely by other organizations and individuals for their planning, campaigns and research.

    The following resource materials published by Suriya are available…

    • Penn Journal (Tamil)
    • Newsletter(Tamil)

    Poetry compilations

    • Let the Poems Speak(Tamil, Sinhala and English)


    • Penkalin Nilam : A study about women’s land rights in the post-tsunami resettlement process in Batticaloa – (Tamil Sinhala and English 2010)
    • Women Responding to Disasters: Challenges and Experiences from South Asia (English, Sinhala and Tamil 2007)
    • History of the Women’s Coalition for Disaster Management (English)
    • “Joining the Dots” – Monitoring Report on Socio -Economic Rights of Women in Displacement/Resettlement (in collaboration with WMC/APWW – English)

    Policy documents

    • Memorandum to the President on women land and housing rights in the post tsunami rebuilding process May 2005
    • Policy Brief “My Work! My Time! My Value? Women’s economic work in the informal and care economy” – (Tamil and English)


    •  “Treating Cancer with Bandaid? The Theoretical Underpinnings of Women in Development” in Reversed Realities: Gender Hierarchies in Development Thought by Naila Kabeer 2005
    • What Men Can Do? (English, translation in Tamil by Suriya)

    Video materials

    • Carrying Hands (a short documentary film by Suriya staff on women’s work in the informal and care economy – Tamil with English subtitles)
    • My Time!, My Work!, My Value? (a short documentary film by Suriya staff on women’s work in the informal and care economy –  Tamil with English subtitles)
    • Women migrant workers’ rights (a short documentary film by Suriya Women’s Development Centre – Tamil and English 2013)

  • Video & Audio Archives

  • Minmini Seithikal

    Minmini Seithihal (Firefly News) was pilot tested in 2010 as a new SMS alternative news source for women and by women in Batticaloa and went public in 2011. It provides information about public services relevant to women, covers local crises such as flood disasters and local conflicts and reports on services for gender based violence. Suriya provides a small office space and editorial support to Minmini News.

  • Supports to women survivors

    Through this programme Suriya is  focusing on justice and accountability for women and girls who have experienced violence and other rights violations. We also working on using legal mechanisms as well as social justice and accountability mechanisms for violence against women and girls. We work with individual women on their journey to claim justice as well as work at the structural level to improve the legal process itself. The specific components includes empowerment of individual victims, group processes for psychosocial support, building consciousness that their experiences are part of a larger women’s gendered experience and building collective solidarity and sisterhood. It also includes research and monitoring of legal processes, actively lobbying with lawyers at the district and national levelpressuring the AG’s department to reform their processes, working closely with the national bodies and strengthening networks among women’s organizations at the district and national level.

    Suriya also focusing on changing social norms and cultural practices that discriminate against women, including ethnic identity politics and focus on improving services and structures existing to respond to violence against women.

  • Legal Aid/Counseling

    Suriya has been working to eliminate violence against women in Batticaloa since 2000.  We have responded to more than 4500 cases over the past 16 years and see on average  23 women monthly who come to our office seeking emergency support or legal aid/counseling. We encourage and empower women who have experienced violence to take steps to come out of that situation.

    We provide free Legal Advice and Legal Representation in the Batticaloa, Kaluwanchikudy courts with the supports of three women lawyers and one senior male lawyer. We also provide advice on entitlements and services available through other state bodies such as the Human Rights Commission and the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment.

    This support includes emergencies around missing individuals, land rights, migrant workers rights, child birth registration, abandonment/separation by husband, maintenance amounts, child abuse, child sexual abuse, child sexual harassment, violence against women, sexual abuse of women, and cheating.

    Referrals are made to other NGOs, Police, State Probation and Child Care Services, crisis centres, human rights organisations and other government bodies, when necessary.

    Our trained staff also provide psycho-social counseling support to women and their families, referrals, and emergency support for women and girls who have faced crises.

    Suriya aims to provide better and more sensitive services for the needs of girls and boys around the issues of sexuality of young people, sexual violence and teenage pregnancies.  We support preventative strategies in working towards a significant reduction of violence against women and girls.

    The most common cases of women who arrive at our doorstep have been related to domestic violence.  When women arrive at Suriya they have already faced long term and severe violence by their husbands.  We inform them of the Prevention of Domestic Violence (DV) Act and filing for protection orders. However the use of such legislation has been slow.

    We aim to improve the legal processes and support services for women who have experienced violence – through evidence based research, forming local level lawyer groups, working closely with selected Women and Children’s Police Desks, providing training for government officers, and supporting district level Gender Based Violence (GBV) networks.

    The delays and discrimination women face through the legal system poses a great challenge.  Evidence based research on the actual process of accessing legal remedies is ongoing for national level advocacy.

  • Our Beginnings

    With mass scale displacement of Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala families from the North and East in 1990, to different locations such as Puttalam and Colombo, Suriya Women’s Development Centre was set up to deal with the special needs of women in the welfare centres located in and around the capital city. Together with activist sisters in Colombo and women from the Poorani Women’s Development Centre – Jaffna, work began in the refugee camps. Suriya responded to the very practical gender specific needs of women and children and supported them to cope with the challenges of loss, fear and managing life in a new environment.  Suriya organised mobile health clinics, held peace-building workshops for children and used cultural activism to support and mobilise women.  In 1993 the camps were moved to Batticaloa in the Eastern Province and some of these pioneering activists took the bold decision to relocate with them.

    Suriya currently acts as a voice of and for women living in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka and plays an active role in bringing to the forefront the perspectives of all women.  Suriya is committed to working with and for women from Tamil and Muslim communities through gender empowerment, development and cultural programs.  We aim to create an equitable and peaceful society free of discrimination against women. Suriya’s vision is to “build a society which is non-discriminatory, free of violence and respects and treats women with equality and dignity”.