Empowering female survivors of the tsunami: It's their life, by Carol Aloysius
: "In spite of these efforts to provide relief for their physical and emotional needs the consensus of opinion among the women's organisations we spoke to, was that women should be an integral part of management at these camps and be given an equal share in distribution of rations,and most importantly be able to voice their grievances to people who are gender sensisitive. Sources also said that a Databank should be set up to serve as a reference for developing skills training programs for these displaced women, starting at grass roots levels. 'We have to first identify their needs and then think of specific programs tailored to meet those needs', a spokeswoman for the Media Collective Centre said. For example, she pointed out, in some of the affected areas women were engaged in fish processing, in others they were involved in agriculture; in still others in cadjan weaving. Each training program must therefore be tailored to these specific needs, area-wise, she stressed. 'For this we need to do a livelihood survey, as well as data on the number of new female headed households - especially by women who have no skills to perform this task.She added that the ILO is currently doing livelihood survey with focus on women's issues. However, to facilitate any training scheme for such women in the future, it is important to obtain some quick input on the exact number of women who have been forced into the role of female heads of their households following the death of their husbands in the tsunami disaster. The future of these displaced women however, will depend on whether they are brought into the decision making and planning of such programs , whether it concerns their personal safety and protection from gender harassment, or the re-building of their lives. Only then can there be real empowerm"