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Remembering Sunila Abeysekera (1952–2013)

by Marilee Karl

Feminist Activist, Women’s Rights and Human Rights Activist, Peace Builder

Sunila at the World Social Forum, Porto Alegre 2005. Credit: Susanna George

Is it really a whole year since we lost Sunila Abeysekera? She remains such a strong presence in the global feminist movements, a shining light and inspiration for all of us. Feminist activist, women’s rights and human rights activist, peace builder since the early 1970s, she is remembered and celebrated by countless people whose lives she touched.

Sunila was awarded the UN Human Rights Prize in 1998 for her tireless defence of human rights and for her peace-building efforts in her home country of Sri Lanka. Her much deserved international acclaim did not keep Sunila from continuing her activism in grassroots feminist initiatives. Sunila was first and foremost a feminist activist, an organizer and a catalyst in local, national, regional and global feminist and other social movements.

From the very beginning of her activism, Sunila was aware or the importance of information and communication in empowering women. She was a founding member of the Women and Media Collective in Colombo, Sri Lanka and founder of INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre.

The story of Sunila’s early activism and emergence as a feminist is a part of the legacy she left to all of us. It also makes for fascinating reading: In We were Feminist First” Kumudini Samuel writes about “Sunila’s contribution to catalyzing the activism of the nascent feminist/women’s movement of the early 1980s and the feminist theorizing she encouraged to underpin this activism.”

Sunila was a consummate networker. She brought feminist activists together. She participated in and contributed to so many women’s organisations. Isis International is one of them. She had a long and active association with Isis International and was a member of the Isis International Board of Trustees from 1998 – 2001. She was also a good friend, one of those with whom you could take up where you left off even after a long absence.

Read more: Remembering Sunila Abeysekera (1952–2013)

From the Ground Up: Food Security, Women, Conflict and Peace

It's September, Peace Month is here!
Isis International supports women's participation in peacebuilding from the grassroots. We amplify women's voices through feminist communications and through our Activist School build the capacity of women working for peace. 
Peace requires all our efforts. Isis belongs to international, regional and national networks working together for peace.
Check out Women Engaged in Action on 1325, and the Global Network for Women Peacebuilder's global campaign 'Women Speak Out for Peace'.
Continuing our efforts to advocate to engender peace follow our articles this month and take a look at our guide on Engendering Peace Journalism.

By Marilee Karl, Isis International

Greater recognition needs to be given to the unique contributions women can make to peace processes and to food security during times of conflict and as countries emerge from conflict.

Conflicts result in major upheaval, massive numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons, destruction of agriculture and livelihoods, a breakdown of food security and even starvation. In times of conflict, aid agencies have long since recognized the importance of ensuring that women are direct recipients of emergency food aid. Women have been found to be key to ensuring that food reaches the most vulnerable members of their communities. This recognition has become enshrined in the policies of many relief agencies.

Read more: From the Ground Up: Food Security, Women, Conflict and Peace

Cambodian Website Tells Women’s Stories

by Juliana Cano Nieto


The last Isis International Activist School focused on Women Human Rights Defenders, what are these activists up to four months later?

You Sotheary, 23, still faces problems when she travels on her own to do community organizing in Cambodia. “My family says I shouldn’t go because women going out alone is not part of our culture or tradition ... People think that I am trying to do something bad with the communities and do not believe in my work.” Instead of stopping her work, these comments make Theary, as her friends call her, more determined to work for women’s rights.

Theary became a rights defender in her college years. She began to raise awareness in the countryside on climate change and human rights, and then worked with survivors of gender-based violence. She told Isis International, “I began this project with an American researcher looking at survivors of gender based violence under Khmer Rouge, to share the ideas and opinions of victims.” This made her realize the importance of sharing the voices of women rights defenders.

Read more: Cambodian Website Tells Women’s Stories

Building Self, Building Community

bsbc1Second Isis International and QAYN Activist School for Young, Queer Francophone Women

Lomé, Togo
February 10-14, 2014

My community self-stigmatizes and discriminates”; “my community is engaged”; “my community is ignorant but in search of its own path; “my community is dispersed”; “my community has trouble communicating”; “my community is unified”. These were some of the perspectives that participants shared about their communities at the last Isis International and the Queer African Youth Networking Center (QAYN) activist school in Lomé, Togo.

Read more: Building Self, Building Community

Demand Accountability (South Africa) Campaign



The Africa Regional Seminar on Ending Violence based on real or perceived Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity [SOGI]


Hi and welcome to the Demand Accountability (South Africa) Campaign!

This toolkit will help you, your organisation and your friends and allies understand WHY we are running this campaign and also importantly HOW you can get involved.

Read more: Demand Accountability (South Africa) Campaign

Sponsor an Activist

Isis International Women's House (Bahay ni Isis)

BnIFacadeIsis International Women’s House (Bahay ni Isis).

Bahay ni Isis provides a safe haven for guests visiting Manila, with lodgings, meeting rooms and facilities for workshops and other events. It is a comfortable women-friendly space and a gathering place for many non-governmental organisations engaged in issues affecting women around the globe. Welcome!

Feminist Activist School

The Isis Feminist Activist School aims to strengthen the communication capacity of women from the Global South so that they can effectively articulate and take on leadership roles in organisations, communities, networks and/or social movements.

Subscribe to we! Newsletter

we!, the Isis International e-newsletter, provides news and information on women’s activism, campaigns and events around the globe as well as analyses and commentary on current issues affecting women.

Women in Action (WiA)

WiA carries in-depth articles on issues facing women globally from a feminist perspective. This social movement publication links women’s issues to larger social issues and features women writers from around the world.

Featured Resources


Research Report, Women and Peacebuilding, Philippines

Recognising Women’s Participation in Sustainable and Lasting Peace.  Isis International realised it is essential to initially find out to what extent or if any at all do peace advocates include or consider women and gender in their peace work with from ICCO foundation, Isis carried out a study on women peacemakers in the Philippines.



Isis Resource Center holds one of the largest feminist collections of materials in the Global South. With 40 years of publication experience, Isis holds a vast collection.

Click here to see some of these historical treasures.

Relive the historical milestones of the women’s movement with this Isis collection of posters. 


Isis International
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Brgy. Central, Quezon City
Tel. No.: +63-2-9281956
Fax No.: +63-2-9241065
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