Shreen Abdul Saroor
After suffering the effects of war, death and displacement as a member of the Muslim minority in Sri Lanka, Shreen and her family were driven out of their home town, Mannar in the north of Sri Lanka in 1990 by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Due to this experience, in 1998 Shreen left her career in business and chose to pursue a career in campaigning for peace and creating stability between the different ethnic groups in Sri Lanka. In 1999, Shreen founded the Mannar Women’s Development Federation, which assists women in over 100 villages to become empowered and embrace their rights. Through the organisation Shreen lobbies on behalf of those affected as well as providing grassroots level support and training for the women who use the service. As of 2017, Shreen’s organisation has helped over 10,000 women in the district, and facilitated women’s rights projects, as well as campaigning for the end of domestic violence towards women in local communities. Since the end of the war in May 2009, Shreen has been working with women who have faced sexual violence and families that are looking for their missing family members through a women’s collective called Women’s Action Network, that she founded in 2010.
Shreen’s first degree is in Business Administration and her post-graduate area of specialty is in Feminist Studies. She has a few publications; among them, Our Struggles and Our Stories, a collection of research papers she facilitated and edited, looks at women’s movement building during the days of armed struggle and post-war in the North and the East of the country.
In 2008 Shreen was awarded the Voices of Courage award by the International Rescue Committee’s Women and Refugees’ Commission for her international and regional work on highlighting the plight of the internally displaced women and in 2011 Shreen was awarded the 5th International Bremen Peace Award under the category of Public Engagement for Peace and Justice. In 2017, Shreen received the Franco-German Human Rights Award, The Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, given to those who have shown great commitment and engagement in the protection and promotion of human rights. In 2018, Shreen was elected as an Ashoka Fellow.