Skip to main content
main-content
Top

Hint

Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book

2015 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

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

share
SHARE

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.
Footnotes
1
This research into the coir industry in south Sri Lanka began with the researcher’s association with a national NGO that assisted local NGOs through district consortiums to recover from the tsunami and implement other developmental work.
 
2
A small and medium scale trader who provides women with coir fiber and buys back coir ropes woven by the women.
 
3
The state imposed a ban on house construction within 100/200 m from the sea in the south and north east.
 
4
The crusher has a rotating wooden cylinder fitted with sharp steel spikes and the husk is held by hand by the operator.
 
5
The State provided fishing boats and fishing gear to those registered with the government and having formal identification. Civil society organizations and individual donors, mostly foreign, also distributed fishing boats and fishing gear, often haphazardly, to people who did not even engage in fishing! International agencies, such as Food and Agriculture Organization, Canadian International Development, and ITDG South Asia pumped in money for the reconstruction of harbors, anchorages, and landing centers. FAO also assisted in preparing a master plan for fishing infrastructure reconstruction and development. By 2007, the industry had recovered from the loss, according to the Government Reconstruction and Development Agency (RADA): of the “over 19,000 boats destroyed, 90 % had been replaced and fishermen were now catching 70 % of what they did prior to tsunami” (IRIN 2007). Fishermen in the study area now use multi-day boats, which many did not have earlier, and they spend a number of days at sea.
 
Literature
go back to reference de Mel, Neloufer, 2007: “Between the War and the Sea”, in: Interventions, 9,2: 238–254. de Mel, Neloufer, 2007: “Between the War and the Sea”, in: Interventions, 9,2: 238–254.
go back to reference de Mel, Neloufer; Ruwanpura, Kanchana N., 2006: Gendering the Tsunami: Women’s Experiences from Sri Lanka (Colombo: ICES). de Mel, Neloufer; Ruwanpura, Kanchana N., 2006: Gendering the Tsunami: Women’s Experiences from Sri Lanka (Colombo: ICES).
go back to reference de Mel, Neloufer; Ruwanpura, Kanchana N.; Samarasinghe, Gameela (Eds.), 2009: After the Waves: The Impact of the Tsunami on Women in Sri Lanka (Colombo: Social Scientist’s Association). de Mel, Neloufer; Ruwanpura, Kanchana N.; Samarasinghe, Gameela (Eds.), 2009: After the Waves: The Impact of the Tsunami on Women in Sri Lanka (Colombo: Social Scientist’s Association).
go back to reference Department of Census and Statistics, 2005: Preliminary Statistics of the Census of Buildings and Persons Affected by the Tsunami—2004. (Galle District. Colombo: Department of Census and Statistics). Department of Census and Statistics, 2005: Preliminary Statistics of the Census of Buildings and Persons Affected by the Tsunami—2004. (Galle District. Colombo: Department of Census and Statistics).
go back to reference Emmanuel, Sarala, 2009: “The Post-disaster Development Transition: An Analysis of Community–Level Women’s Mobilization, Citizenship and ‘Good’ Governance”, in: de Mel, Neloufer; Ruwanpura, Kanchana N.; Samarasinghe, Gameela (Eds.): After the Waves: The Impact of the Tsunami on Women in Sri Lanka (Colombo: Social Scientist’s Association): 153–178. Emmanuel, Sarala, 2009: “The Post-disaster Development Transition: An Analysis of Community–Level Women’s Mobilization, Citizenship and ‘Good’ Governance”, in: de Mel, Neloufer; Ruwanpura, Kanchana N.; Samarasinghe, Gameela (Eds.): After the Waves: The Impact of the Tsunami on Women in Sri Lanka (Colombo: Social Scientist’s Association): 153–178.
go back to reference Fothergill, Alice, 1996: “The Neglect of Gender in Disaster Work: An Overview of the Literature”, in: International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 14,1. Fothergill, Alice, 1996: “The Neglect of Gender in Disaster Work: An Overview of the Literature”, in: International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 14,1.
go back to reference Goonesekera, Savitri, 2006: A Gender Analysis of Tsunami Impact: Relief Recovery and Reconstruction in Some Districts in Sri Lanka (Colombo: Centre for Women’s Research). Goonesekera, Savitri, 2006: A Gender Analysis of Tsunami Impact: Relief Recovery and Reconstruction in Some Districts in Sri Lanka (Colombo: Centre for Women’s Research).
go back to reference Goonesekera, Savitri, 2009: “A Gender Analysis of Tsunami Impact: Relief Recovery and Reconstruction in Some Districts in Sri Lanka”, in: de Mel, Neloufer; Ruwanpura, Kanchana N.; Samarasinghe, Gameela (Eds.): After the Waves: The Impact of the Tsunami on Women in Sri Lanka (Colombo: Social Scientist’s Association): 84–111. Goonesekera, Savitri, 2009: “A Gender Analysis of Tsunami Impact: Relief Recovery and Reconstruction in Some Districts in Sri Lanka”, in: de Mel, Neloufer; Ruwanpura, Kanchana N.; Samarasinghe, Gameela (Eds.): After the Waves: The Impact of the Tsunami on Women in Sri Lanka (Colombo: Social Scientist’s Association): 84–111.
go back to reference Hyndman, Jennifer, 2009: “Troubling ‘Widows’ in Post-tsunami Sri Lanka: Feminist Meets Double Disasters,” in: de Mel, Neloufer; Ruwanpura, Kanchana N.; Samarasinghe, Gameela (Eds.): After the Waves: The Impact of the Tsunami on Women in Sri Lanka (Colombo: Social Scientist’s Association): 17–41. Hyndman, Jennifer, 2009: “Troubling ‘Widows’ in Post-tsunami Sri Lanka: Feminist Meets Double Disasters,” in: de Mel, Neloufer; Ruwanpura, Kanchana N.; Samarasinghe, Gameela (Eds.): After the Waves: The Impact of the Tsunami on Women in Sri Lanka (Colombo: Social Scientist’s Association): 17–41.
go back to reference Kapadia, Kamal, 2013: “Producing Entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka’s Post-Tsunami Economy: Re-thinking the Relationships between Aid, knowledge and Power”, in: Contemporary South Asia, 21,1: 6–21. Kapadia, Kamal, 2013: “Producing Entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka’s Post-Tsunami Economy: Re-thinking the Relationships between Aid, knowledge and Power”, in: Contemporary South Asia, 21,1: 6–21.
go back to reference Kottegoda, Sepali, 2007: “In the Aftermath of the Tsunami Disaster: Gender Identities in Sri Lanka”, in: Women in Action, 2: 16–24. Kottegoda, Sepali, 2007: “In the Aftermath of the Tsunami Disaster: Gender Identities in Sri Lanka”, in: Women in Action, 2: 16–24.
go back to reference Kumara, A.G.L.A.S.; Hirimuthugoda, N.Y.; Edirisinghe, U., 2011: “Assessment of Socio-economic and Health Status of Fisherwomen Involved in Coir Retting in Dickwella Secretariat Division, Matara District”, in: Tropical Agricultural Research, 23,1: 84–90. Kumara, A.G.L.A.S.; Hirimuthugoda, N.Y.; Edirisinghe, U., 2011: “Assessment of Socio-economic and Health Status of Fisherwomen Involved in Coir Retting in Dickwella Secretariat Division, Matara District”, in: Tropical Agricultural Research, 23,1: 84–90.
go back to reference Mubarak-Perera, Kamakshi, 2013: “Positive Responses, Uneven Experiences: Intersections of Gender, Ethnicity and Location in Post-tsunami Sri Lanka”, in: Gender, Place and Culture, 20,5: 664–685. Mubarak-Perera, Kamakshi, 2013: “Positive Responses, Uneven Experiences: Intersections of Gender, Ethnicity and Location in Post-tsunami Sri Lanka”, in: Gender, Place and Culture, 20,5: 664–685.
go back to reference Oxfam, 2006: The Coir Industry in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka (Colombo, Oxfam). Oxfam, 2006: The Coir Industry in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka (Colombo, Oxfam).
go back to reference Peiris, Kamala, 1997: Weaving a Future Together (Utrecht, The Netherlands: Institute for Development Research). Peiris, Kamala, 1997: Weaving a Future Together (Utrecht, The Netherlands: Institute for Development Research).
go back to reference Perera, Sriyani, 2010: Women’s Land Rights in Post-disaster Contexts (Colombo: We Women Against Violence Network). Perera, Sriyani, 2010: Women’s Land Rights in Post-disaster Contexts (Colombo: We Women Against Violence Network).
go back to reference Pinto-Jayawardena, Kishali; de Almedia Gunarathne, Jayantha, 2010: Is Land Just for Men? Critiquing Discriminatory Laws, Regulations and Administrative Practices Relating to Land and Property Rights of Women in Sri Lanka (Colombo: Law & Society Trust). Pinto-Jayawardena, Kishali; de Almedia Gunarathne, Jayantha, 2010: Is Land Just for Men? Critiquing Discriminatory Laws, Regulations and Administrative Practices Relating to Land and Property Rights of Women in Sri Lanka (Colombo: Law & Society Trust).
go back to reference Risseeuw, Carla, 1980: The Wrong End of the Rope: Women Coir Workers in Sri Lanka (Leiden: Research Project Women and Development). Risseeuw, Carla, 1980: The Wrong End of the Rope: Women Coir Workers in Sri Lanka (Leiden: Research Project Women and Development).
go back to reference Ruwanpura, Kanchana N., 2007: “Awareness and Action: The Ethno-gender Dynamics of Sri Lankan NGOs”, in: Gender, Place and Culture, 14,3: 317–333. Ruwanpura, Kanchana N., 2007: “Awareness and Action: The Ethno-gender Dynamics of Sri Lankan NGOs”, in: Gender, Place and Culture, 14,3: 317–333.
go back to reference Ruwanpura, Kanchana N., 2008: “Temporality of Disasters: The Politics of Women’s Livelihoods ‘After’ the 2004 Tsunami in Sri Lanka”, in: Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 29,3: 325–340. Ruwanpura, Kanchana N., 2008: “Temporality of Disasters: The Politics of Women’s Livelihoods ‘After’ the 2004 Tsunami in Sri Lanka”, in: Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 29,3: 325–340.
go back to reference Ruwanpura, Kanchana N., 2009: “Waves of Reality: Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Post-tsunami Development Efforts in Sri Lanka—A Gender Analysis”, in: de Mel, Neloufer; Ruwanpura, Kanchana N.; Samarasinghe, Gameela (Eds.): After the Waves: The Impact of the Tsunami on Women in Sri Lanka (Colombo: Social Scientist’s Association): 65–83. Ruwanpura, Kanchana N., 2009: “Waves of Reality: Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Post-tsunami Development Efforts in Sri Lanka—A Gender Analysis”, in: de Mel, Neloufer; Ruwanpura, Kanchana N.; Samarasinghe, Gameela (Eds.): After the Waves: The Impact of the Tsunami on Women in Sri Lanka (Colombo: Social Scientist’s Association): 65–83.
go back to reference Silva, Kalinga T., 2010: “Are Women Merely Passive Victims of Disaster or Active Agents in the Recovery from Disasters? The Case of Tsunami in Sri Lanka”, in: CENWOR (Ed.): Charting Pathways to Gender Equality: Reflections and Challenges (Colombo: Centre for Women’s Research): 159–170. Silva, Kalinga T., 2010: “Are Women Merely Passive Victims of Disaster or Active Agents in the Recovery from Disasters? The Case of Tsunami in Sri Lanka”, in: CENWOR (Ed.): Charting Pathways to Gender Equality: Reflections and Challenges (Colombo: Centre for Women’s Research): 159–170.
go back to reference UNDP, 2005: The Report on People’s Consultations on Post Tsunami Relief, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation in Sri Lanka, (Colombo: UNDP, Disaster Relief and Monitoring Unit—Human Rights Commission Sri Lanka and Colombo: University Extension Centre). UNDP, 2005: The Report on People’s Consultations on Post Tsunami Relief, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation in Sri Lanka, (Colombo: UNDP, Disaster Relief and Monitoring Unit—Human Rights Commission Sri Lanka and Colombo: University Extension Centre).
Metadata
Title
A Coir Mill of Their Own: Women’s Agency in Post-tsunami Sri Lanka
Author
Ramanie Jayatilaka
Copyright Year
2015
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16616-2_6