Visaka Dharmadasa

Gender Focal Point for South Asia

Visaka is the founder and Chair of Association of War Affected Women and Parents of Servicemen Missing in Action. Struggling to end the civil war, she was able to bring women together across the conflict lines to work for peace. Ms Dharmadasa educates soldiers and community leaders about international standards of conduct of war specifically to raise awareness about the importance of soldier’s identification tags and treatment to prisoners of war. She also works on disseminating the content of UN resolution 1325 on women peace and security, calling for the inclusion of women at all levels of peace building and decision making. She trains women to run for political office and also on power sharing. 

She was awarded the prestigious Humanitarian award for 2006 by the Inter-Action of Washington DC, an NGO consortium comprising of 160 non governmental organizations. In coordination with the “1000 Peace women across the globe” movement, she was nominated for a collective Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She was a team member of special rapporteur to look in to the violence in north and east of Sri Lanka and the ceasefire violations by the Human Rights commission, and Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms appointed by Government of Sri Lanka. She is a network member of Women Waging Peace, a founding member of Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL), a member of Women Mediators across Commonwealth, a member of the expert pool of Resolution to Act, as well a member of Global Network of Women Peacebuilders. She is the gender focal point for GPPAC in Sri Lanka, a Director of the board of of National Peace Council and PAFFREL of Sri Lanka. She is currently a member of the Civil Society Advisory Group of UN Women for the region. Visaka Dharmadasa holds a degree in negotiations and mediation skills from the United States Institute for Peace, Washington, and in women and security from Harvard University, Cambridge, USA.

Region: South Asia; Sri Lanka
Area of Expertise: conduct of war; civil-military relations; female political participation; UNSCR 1325

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