Since the 1980s, Kumudini Samuel (born 1958) has played a key role in the women's movement and the antiwar movement in Sri Lanka. In 2002, she organized a campaign involving international feminists to press for the inclusion of women in a peace process aimed at ending Sri Lanka's two-decade-old civil war. Her campaign led to the appointment of a gender subcommittee to advise the peace process, and she is one of five women nominated by the government to serve on this body.
Kumudini Samuel, who has a Sinhala mother and a Tamil father, has never let mixed-origin issues hold her back. She became involved in activism in the early 1980s, through her engagement with women garment workers in north Colombo, who had gone on strike against the unfair dismissal of some active workers' organizers in their factory. She was a key figure in the women's solidarity movement that evolved around this strike. Kumudini is a significant figure in the women's movement and the antiwar movement in Sri Lanka. She is an active campaigner for peace and justice for minorities. Despite all the difficulties posed by the shrinking conflict-riven democratic space, Kumudini maintains a strong engagement with women's rights and human rights. The high point of Kumudini's involvement with the antiwar movement was her campaign to include women in the peace process. She initiated the idea of bringing a group of international feminists to Sri Lanka in October 2002 to support a public campaign to pressure the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. In November 2002, the government appointed a subcommittee on gender issues to advise the parties to the peace process-Kumudini was one of five women nominated by the government to be part of this subcommittee. However, the subcommittee had had only one preliminary meeting, when the peace talks stalled. Kumudini is one of the coordinators of the Women and Media Collective, a Colombo-based feminist group that promotes women's rights. She is also deeply involved in the Coalition for Assisting Tsunami-Affected Women (Cataw). She combines activism with analytical work, and has written and published papers on the situation of women in the conflict. She is also studying for a masters in women's studies at the University of Colombo.
Women and Media Collective (WMC) Coalition for Assisting Tsunami-Affected Women (Cataw)