1st Edition

Women with Disabilities as Agents of Peace, Change and Rights Experiences from Sri Lanka

Edited By Karen Soldatic, Dinesha Samararatne Copyright 2021
    122 Pages
    by Routledge

    122 Pages
    by Routledge

    Drawing on rich empirical work emerging from core conflict regions within the island nation of Sri Lanka, this book illustrates the critical role that women with disabilities play in post-armed conflict rebuilding and development.

    This pathbreaking book shows the critical role that women with disabilities play in post-armed conflict rebuilding and development. Through offering a rare yet important insight into the processes of gendered-disability advocacy activation within the post-conflict environment, it provides a unique counter narrative to the powerful images, symbols and discourses that too frequently perpetuate disabled women’s so-called need for paternalistic forms of care. Rather than being the mere recipients of aid and help, the narratives of women with disabilities reveal the generative praxis of social solidarity and cohesion, progressed via their nascent collective practices of gendered-disability advocacy.

    It will be of interest to academics and students working in the fields of disability studies, gender studies, post-conflict studies, peace studies and social work.

    List of contributors


    1 Introduction: Out of the shadows: Women with disabilities as agents of peace, justice and reparations in Sri Lanka
    Karen Soldatic and Dinesha Samararatne

    2 Going beyond disability identity and creating communities of belonging: Perception management and gendered disability advocacy
    Niro Kandasamy and Karen Soldatic

    3 Music, resistance and change: The gendered-disability performativity of a Tamil woman with multiple Disabilities
    Niro Kandasamy and Sindhu Ratnarajan

    4 Raging (e)motions
    Niro Kandasamy and Binendri Perera

    5 Women with disabilities, advocacy and the law
    Dinesha Samararatne

    6 Learning about rights, claiming a gendered-disability identity: The role of reparations and gendered-disability justice
    Binendri Perera

    7 Conclusion and recommendations: Enabling women with disabilities’ advocacy and activism in the peace-building landscape
    Karen Soldatic and Dinesha Samararatne


    Karen Soldatic is an Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences, and Institute Fellow, Institute for Culture and Society, at Western Sydney University. She was awarded a Fogarty Foundation Excellence in Education Fellowship for 2006–09, a British Academy International Fellowship in 2012, a fellowship at The Centre for Human Rights Education at Curtin University (2011–12), where she remains an Adjunct Fellow, and an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship (2016–19). Her research on global welfare regimes builds on her 20 years of experience as an international, national and state-based senior policy analyst, researcher and practitioner. She obtained her PhD (Distinction) in 2010 from the University of Western Australia. 

    Dinesha Samararatne is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Public & International Law at the Faculty of Law at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. She is also a Postdoctoral Fellow in the ARC Laureate Program in Comparative Constitutional Law (2019–20), a Co-Convenor of Constitution Transformation Network (CTN) of the Melbourne Law School and co-editor of the Blog of the International Association for Constitutional Law (IACL). Her recent research has been in relation to constitution-making, methodology of comparative constitutional law, women’s rights and rights of persons with disabilities. 

    "This book upends common portrayals of disabled women - from passive recipients or victims to agents of change in post-conflict settings. Using the stories of diverse Sri Lankan women and foregrounding gendered and disability injustices, the compelling narratives demonstrate how disabled women’s activism has changed the peace-building context in Sri Lanka. In building networks and coalitions to address their needs and aspirations, Sri Lankan disabled women remind us of the importance of ‘nothing without us’."
    Deborah Stienstra, Jarislowsky Chair in Families and Work, Director, Live Work Well Research Centre, Professor of Political Science, University of Guelph, Canada. 

    "A critical and timely intervention in the literature on both peacebuilding and disability studies, this book builds a comprehensive argument against locating women peacebuilders as a generic category by examining the specific role of disabled women in peacebuilding in Sri Lanka. In doing so it offers evidence and provocative insights from across scholarship, activism, life narratives and ethnic boundaries into the relationship of disability justice and postwar peace, collective mobilization and women’s agency. A compelling case study thereby emerges not only of the specific Sri Lankan context in relation to its war, the law, disability rights and challenges of post-war recovery, but also what peacebuilding means from a non-ableist perspective."
    Neloufer de Mel, Chair Professor of English, Department of English, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

    "Using intersectional and agency perspectives in Post war Sri Lankan context, this book contributes significantly to the growing gender and disability literature in the global south. Empirically underlining the challenges of individual and collective activism of women with disabilities in peace making, it provides useful recommendations for public policy. A must read."
    Nilika Mehrotra, Professor, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.