Sri Lanka Army Women’s Corps
By Manohari Katugampala
The contribution of women in every sphere of life is massive. They contribute to the lives of their family members, as well as the country. Women’s Day has become a custom every year now and is celebrated for the women around us. All these women deserve respect, love, care and happiness. Women are being given equal opportunities at work. Women are running ahead of men and leading their respective companies in the direction of success. The construction that they have towards society has immensely increased.
The Sri Lanka Army Women’s Corps (SLAWC), the only prestigious women battalion in the South Asian Region, which has steadily marched forward for 40 years since its establishment on 1 September 1979 and immensely contributed to the achievement of organisational goals of the victories of the Sri Lanka Army. At present, the Women’s Corps has progressed to expand its strength to over 200 lady officers and about 3,500 ladies of other ranks who have been deployed in different establishments of the Army camps located islandwide.
Having upheld the motto, ‘The Powerful Mind is the Strongest Weapon’, members of the women’s corps bravely assisted troops on the battlefield during the operations conducted to eradicate the 30-year-long brutal terrorism. During the humanitarian operation, a considerable number of female soldiers have sacrificed their lives in performing their exceptional service to the motherland. Sergeant PBS Pushpamala, Corporal H. Ariyawathee, and I.M.B. Padma Kumari, Lance Corporal H.M. Rupawathee, U.P.D. Kumuduni, R.C. Swarnalatha, I.N. Silva, R.M. Ajantha, A. Sriyani Deepika, N.A. Kaluvillaarchchi, K.P.N. Abeysinghe, N.B.P.S.K. Dharmawardene, U.D. Nayana Thushari, R.M.T.K. Dilini Rathnayake, W.P. Wijesundara, R.M.P. Rathnayake, P.R.S. Malkanthi, H.W. Damayanthi, D.S.S.P. Gunathilake, P.N. Piyadasa, M.K.A. Dilrukshi, R.M. Nilanka Kumari, H.M.L. Sewwandi, S.M.P.K.D. Godakumbura, P.V.D. Wijewardena are among the valiant female soldiers.
Accomplishing multiple responsibilities whilst playing multiple roles as a mother, daughter, wife, leader or soldier amply demonstrates the strength of the SLAWC to achieve its prime goal of gaining professionalism. Nevertheless, a powerful mind and endless determination which every woman has been gifted by nature will no doubt steer the Women Corps to achieve every means of professionalism.
Though the Women’s Corps was established as a service unit to carry out administration duties, at present, the 1st Battalion of Sri Lanka Army Women’s Corps performs ceremonial duties while the rest of the battalions are dedicated to infantry roles and tasks. From the commencement of the corps in 1979 up to date the Sri Lanka Army Women’s Corps has played a significant role, especially during the armed conflict and humanitarian operation. Continuing that role and task and her contribution towards national security and national emergencies facilitates to gain international reputation for the Sri Lanka Army.
SLAWC has grown up into a guiding stem of the adjacent six battalions located islandwide in Borella, Security Forces Headquarters - Wanni, Nandikadal, Kilinochchi, Dalukana and Myliddy.
At the inception, Sri Lanka Army Women’s Corps comprised professional female soldiers in the field of telecommunication, health services, military intelligence services, nursing duties, Military Police duties, Lawyers, Accountants, English Instructors, Psychologists, Physiotherapists, Veterinary surgeons, Speech therapists, Agriculture officers, Software Engineers, Quality Control Engineers, Cyber Security Officers, Civil Engineers, Architects, Surveyors, Technical Officers etc. and presently they have been transferred to support the respective regiments performing those professionalised services at Sri Lanka Signal Corps, Military Intelligence Corps, Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps, Sri Lanka Corps of Military Police, Sri Lanka Army General Service Corps, Sri Lanka Engineers and Sri Lanka Army Ordnance Corps, Sri Lanka Army Service Corps, etc.
In the post-humanitarian operation, the women troops were employed in many circumstantial situations for the provision of services including cordon and search operations, Manning Roadblocks where necessary and cannot be filled by the male cadre itself. Further, the women troops were employed in the civil-military coordination activities, Internal Security duties, rehabilitating Ex-LTTE cadres, maintaining harmony centres, provision of food and other necessary items, conducting women empowerment programmes for Tamil civilians and ex-Tamil female combatants. Stepping to a new milestone some of the lady officers and other ranks have been trained and qualified as paratroopers as well as skydivers. A special operation support group has been formed to support VVIP security protection to collaborate national security and the territorial integrity of the motherland.
The role of the mother and the wife never changes because the existence of life depends on them. With the utmost dedication they made sacrifices by sending their sons and daughters to the battlefront. But their commitment as a mother and a wife is invaluable and must be remembered especially during this women’s day.
In paying gratitude to all the support they have provided till now, the Army has not forgotten to payback. In this context, under the guidance of Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army, General Shavendra Silva and the Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Army Seva Vanitha Unit, Sujeeva Nelson the Army extends its fullest cooperation and unfailing commitment to uplift the living standards of the spouses of the family members of the fallen war heroes, differently able war heroes and the civil staff workers of the Sri Lanka Army, to enrich their lives.