Visaka Dharmadasa

Chairperson Association of War Affected Women, Sri Lanka

Region(s): Asia, Global, Middle East
Country of focus: India, Maldives, Sri Lanka
Based in Sri Lanka

Visaka Dharmadasa (@venuwan) founded and chairs the Association of War Affected Women and Parents of Servicemen Missing in Action.  The association engages in peacebuilding dialogues between conflict-affected women from different ethnicities in Sri Lanka.

Visaka is a director on the board of the National Peace Council and vice-chairperson of People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) in Sri Lanka.

A global voice for women’s inclusion in peace processes, Visaka was nominated for the collective Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 as part of the 1000 Peace Women Across the Globe. She received the prestigious 2006 Humanitarian award by Inter Action of Washington DC – an NGO consortium comprises of 160 non governmental organizations.

Visaka educates soldiers and community leaders about international standards of conduct in conflict, specifically on the treatment of war prisoners. She also conducts trainings on UN resolution 1325 which calls for the inclusion of women at all levels of peace building and decision making, and trains women to run for political office and power sharing mechanisms. She is a member of several peacebuilding networks, including Women Waging Peace, Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL),  the expert pool of Resolution to Act for UNSCR 1325, and  the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders.

Visaka  holds a degree in negotiations and mediation skills and in women, peace and security from Harvard University.