War and Recovery: Psychosocial Challenges in Northern Sri Lanka
The proliferation of women heads of households has been one of the significant challenges created by armed conflict in many parts of the world. It has been estimated that more than one hundred thousand war-affected women have been registered with governmental and non-governmental organizations to obtain support in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka (UN 2015). In this milieu, this study aims to explore the psychosocial challenges faced by women heads of households during war and in the post-conflict scenario with the specific objectives of identifying the initiatives adopted by them and investigating the changes which have taken place in their lives and the sustainability of their attempts.
This attempt focuses on women’s priority concerns and capacities related to their formal and informal aspects that may enhance their livelihoods and strengthen their family well-being. The study explores beyond conventional images of women as victims of armed conflict to document the diverse ways in which they rebuild their families, livelihoods, and social image. To form an in-depth understanding of the nature of their lives and how they perceive their experiences, a qualitative method is adopted using in-depth interviews to garner information. The dominant themes of the study are: reasons for women taking leadership of their families; psychological and socio-economic challenges and the initiatives taken and strategies adopted by participants to combat them; and perceptions on the present condition of their lives. Significant findings showed that most of the participants use home-grown approaches to deal with the challenges and they are able to excel in different domains like livelihood, ensuring basic facilities, decision making and encountering challenges in a changing world. Above all these aspects, formal and informal support systems play a crucial role in promoting the womens psychosocial well-being and provide them with a platform to advance in their livelihood tasks.