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A Coir Mill of Their Own: Women’s Agency in Post-tsunami Sri Lanka

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Part of the SpringerBriefs in Environment, Security, Development and Peace book series (BRIEFSSECUR, volume 21)

Abstract

The 2004 tsunami devastated large parts of the coast in Sri Lanka causing loss of life and livelihoods and displacement of families and communities. Recovering lost livelihoods was a major challenge for the State in the post-recovery process. The case study presented in this chapter describes the experiences of a local women’s organization that faced the challenge of restoring the livelihoods of its members, specifically coir workers. After the tsunami, the fisherfolk became the focus of aid organizations and coir workers were largely neglected. As a result, the men who dominated the coir industry were not interested in reviving it. With the support of local NGOs and CBOs, women coir workers entered this space to establish their own small-scale coir fibre-processing centre and broke the monopoly of private individuals who sold coir fibre at high prices. However, running the coir fibre mill, providing coir fibre to women for production, and negotiating a good price for the coir-based products are new challenges for the women as well as women’s organizations. Disasters can offer women some opportunities to exercise their agency and challenge oppressive social norms and barriers.

Keywords

Tsunami Livelihoods Coir work Resilience Collective strength 

Abbreviations

CBO

Community based organizations

CNO

Centre for National Operations

DS

Divisional Secretary

GN

Grama Niladari

NGOs

Non-governmental organizations

TAFOR

Task Force on Relief

TAFREN

Task Force for Rebuilding the Nation

TAFRER

Task Force for Rescue and Relief

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Copyright information

©  Food and Agriculture Organization 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ColomboSri Lanka

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