Our story starts way back,
As a result of the emergence of Free Trade Zones with the advent of the open economic system in Sri Lanka, many women were suffered due to the oppressive policies of the government existing at that time. Especially the working class was subjected to extreme exploitation. In this historic background, the Women’s Centre was established at Tudella in Ja-Ela in August 1982 to protect women, rights of women and rights of women workers.
From that point on, the Women’s Centre continuously appeared for the right to live free of violence in the face of problems which crop up due to being women and the right of women for protection from labor exploitation.
Having been organized by women workers themselves, the Women’s Centre has overcome all challenges and obstacles in taking the initiative to strengthen the struggle of Polytex Garment workers and carry it to its victory in the history of Sri Lanka.
Thereafter, the move taken to protect and support the Tamil workers from Ekala area in Ja-Ela who became helpless during the racist clashes that festered the whole country in 1983, can be identified as a victory achieved by the Women’s Centre.
Without stopping at that, the Women’s Centre spread its wings from Ekala by opening its branch “Women Workers’ Shelter” in Jayawardhanapura in Katunayake in January 1987 in order to give strength and courage to women workers from the Katunayake Free Trade Zone, who were battered by the open economic system.
The Street Drama Troupe, which is comprised of women workers of the Free Trade Zone, was started at the Women Workers’ Shelter in 1989. The Street Drama Troupe, the music band and the oriental instrumental band of the Women’s Centre were formed in order to make people aware of the problems, experiences and sufferings faced by women workers in their day to day life and on the way, as well as to instill strength and liveliness to the workers’ struggle through art and aesthetics.
The Atlas struggle is also a 4-month long struggle which started in 1993 in the Free Trade Zone in Katunayake that ended with success to workers. This was also amply supported by the Women’s Centre.
The Women’s Centre started its Women Workers’ Shelter branches in Biyagama in August, 1998 and in Koggala in November 1999 to expand its services such as appearing for rights of women workers, educating women workers of Free Trade Zones by conducting seminars, discussions and workshops, and supporting women workers in the zones to win their rights.
Thus, the Women’s Centre, which made an active contribution to the cause of women workers, celebrated its Silver Jubilee on 25 November 2006. The CD containing the songs composed and vocalized by women workers and the book titled “We Have Arrived” describing the history of the struggle of the Women’s Centre were both launched to mark the event.
At the struggle launched by workers of the Free Trade Zone against the government’s anti-democratic Pension Fund Act to create a fund using the Employees’ Provident Fund money of workers in May 2011, the Women’s Centre provided active contribution by filing 12 lawsuits at the Supreme Court on behalf of 12 workers who were subjected to injustice, which can be called a small victory for the Women’s Centre.
The Women’s Centre, which is committed to the protection of women’s rights, has a long way to go in fulfilling its social role.
Our Values & Principles
Organization committee is the decision making body of the women’s centre. It is a comprise of 13 members
● Executive Director
● 9 Women Worker – Representing Project Locations
● 3 Other Women Activists and representing other organizations
Mrs. Padmini Weerasooriya
Ms. Gayani Gomes
Ms. Paramitha Weerasekare
Ms. Asinsala Wijesinghe
Ms. Gayani Gomes
Ms. Sandunika Jayasekara
Ms. Kanchana Abesekara
Ms. Thushani Shiwanthika
Project Officer Gampaha District
Mr. Nalina Ranjan Fernando
Project Officer North
Ms. Mahalingam Thamilini
Branch Officer Vavuniya
Mr. O. Ramachandran
Organizer - Plantation(Tea)
Day Care Wardens
Ms. Wasantha Herath
Ms. Renuka Damayanthi
Mr. M.A.G. Ajith Perera
Driver and Office Assistant
Ms. Nimathi Fernando
Dr. Nimalka Fernando
Dr. Pushpa Ramlani
Mr. Rohan Kottage
Ms. Bandara Manike