Identifying Post-War Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women in Sri Lanka

This project will identify interventions that foster economic empowerment among women directly affected by the conflict in northern Sri Lanka. The goal is to promote policies that are sensitive to women's needs and unique circumstances. Prolonged conflict can greatly influence women's ability to bring about economic change in their own lives. After suffering through the 30-year civil war that ended in 2009, women remain severely impoverished in the country's north. Women who are heads of households, displaced, disabled, or ex-combatants face hardships and significant challenges learning to reintegrate into society. Thirty years of war resulted in losses of family members, economic assets, and livelihood opportunities for women. This project will compile evidence on women's economic losses caused by war and the extent of their economic empowerment after the war. Since the end of the war, the Sri Lankan government has focused on developing the economy and infrastructure in its post-conflict reconstruction. In the north, NGOs, the state, and the private sector have been increasing investments in microfinance projects specifically targeted to women. There is little research focusing on the effects of these projects on women's social and economic recovery from the conflict. This project seeks to fill that gap. Researchers will examine the progress made in post-war recovery processes to achieve inclusive economic growth. They will also assess the potential of microfinance initiatives to help women achieve economic autonomy and success. This project seeks to design effective and gender-sensitive policies to address economic empowerment in Sri Lanka and other post-conflict states. Objectives include: - Estimate the socio-economic loses women have faced in the north - Map economic empowerment programs available to women - Analyze the post-war development programs in the north - Strengthen research capacity, data collection, data analysis, and dissemination - Provide an opportunity for cross-regional knowledge exchange - Create awareness about the barriers that impede successful implementation of economic programs for women This research is supported under the Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW) program. GrOW is a five-year, multi-funder partnership of the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and IDRC. With a focus on low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, GrOW aims to support policies and interventions that improve women's livelihoods and contribute to societal well-being. One component of the program will support 11 projects addressing barriers to women's economic empowerment and gender gaps in earnings and productivity. This project is among them, selected following a competitive call.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


36 months

IDRC Officer

Madiha Ahmed

Total funding

CA$ 719,000


Sri Lanka, United Kingdom


Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women

Project Leader

Mario Gomez


International Centre for Ethnic Studies

Institution Country

Sri Lanka

Institution Website