Sri Lanka’s worst drought in over 40 years has been putting pressure on communities across the country. Achini Dinesha, a mother of two living in village of Kiriyankale in the north western province of Sri Lanka must now trek five miles each day to collect water, following the drying of her backyard well and the failure of the monsoon. Women and other community members are recounting many challenges faced , including struggling to find privacy and safety for caring for their personal hygiene.
Achala Abeysinghe is a legal advisor on climate change negotiations to the Chair of the Least Developed Countries, a group of 48 countries that are highly susceptible to global warming. Achala works tirelessly on behalf of the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the world to ensure their rights are represented when it comes to the effects of climate change. Photo credit: Inez and Vinoodh
The findings of research conducted by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) in the Puttalam and the Kalmunai districts of Sri Lanka explore the consequences of social and cultural barriers fisherwomen face while adapting to climate change. The rise of ocean water, loss of biodiversity and extreme weather conditions have compelled fisherwomen to look for strategies for their family’s survival, such as using available resources to prevent water intrusion in their land. A major barrier to adaptation is the lack of knowledge about climate change, lack of women leaders at the local and national levels, and the limitations of gender roles. Photo credit: Use Default
Opportunities for women to learn to swim were almost non-existent in Sri Lanka. Culture in Sri Lanka prevents mixed gender bathing in public pools that do exist and requires women to swim in the sea in full clothing. The 2005 Indian Ocean Tsunami took many lives of women and children that could have been saved had they known how to swim. After the tsunami, Christine Fonfe felt that it was time to shift cultural narratives around swimming. Girlie Ganage is among a group of women learning to swim and notes that, before the tsunami, women swimming would have been almost unthinkable. Now, there are groups aiming to make swimming lessons a part of the national school curriculum. Photo credit: Tom Parker