As a national liberation movement the LTTE has a women guerrilla wing
which has been actively involved in the political and the military struggle
and has made remarkable achievements in the awakening of women's
revolutionary consciousness. Though the armed resistance campaign of the
Liberation Tigers has a history extended to seventeen years, the women's
military structure has a six year old history. The conservative nature of
our social formation, its oppressive structures against women, its g e n d e
r discrimination, have contributed to the delayed development of women's
participatory role in the armed struggle.
The racial holocaust of
July 1983 and the genocidal repression of the state that followed awoke
the Tamil national consciousness. Outraged by the pogrom, the entire nation
was stirred to resist the mounting Sinhala oppression. This revolutionary
awakening had its impact on the Tamil women. It was during this turbulent
time, young radical women came forward to participate in the armed struggle
for national liberation.
In August 1983, the LTTE formed the women wing and began to recruit
female cadres. A theoretical document entitled Women and the Revolution
was published in English and Tamil outlining the role and function of women
in the Tamil Eelam national liberation struggle. At the initial stages our
women cadres were mainly involved in the task of political propaganda. But
it was in mid 1984 that women cadres were militarily trained and a well
organised women guerrilla unit was established.
Thus, a women fighting force emerged under the leadership of the
LTTE, for the first time in the history of the Tamil national struggle
ushering in a new era of women's participation in the war of liberation.
The armed cadres of our women wing were also involved in the task of
politicization and mobilisation of Tamil Eelam women, campaigning against
social discrimination and national oppression and emphasising the need for
women's emancipation. Towards this objective, a radical women's journal
called 'Sunthanthira Paraivagal' was launched in December 1984.
From early 1985 the LTTE's women wing has been expanding its political
structures in the Jaffna peninsula which was under the administrative
control of the LTTE. Our women unit co-ordinated and worked with p o p u 1 a
r women organisations, trade unions, industrial training centres, health and
welfare associations, educational institutes and was campaigning and
organising women for the national struggle.
In the meantime, our women guerrilla units directly participated in armed
combat against the Sri Lankan armed forces in the Vanni and Mannar
districts. The first major battle in which our women fighters participated
took place in Mannar under the command of Lt. Colonel Victor who was
martyred in the fighting.
Our women guerrillas also participated in several armed confrontations in
the Killinochchi and Jaffna districts to bring these areas under the control
of the LTTE.
In Jaffna, our women freedom fighters participated in several successful
operations launched against Sri Lankan military targets. Significant among
them are the attacks on the Jaffna tele-com army camp, the commando raids on
Mayiliyathani and Kankesanthurai camps under the command of Lt. Col. Ratha
and the attacks on the Kurumbaciddy and Nelliyadi army camps. Our women
cadres also manned several check points and defence bunkers around Sri
Lankan army camps in the peninsula and faced regular shelling with
By directly participating in the armed struggle, our women guerrillas
have demonstrated their courage, commitment and dedication and have proved
beyond doubt that they are capable of sacrificing their lives for the cause
of our people. By their supreme sacrifices they have inspired the female
nation and paved the way for greater participation of women in the national
Soon after the Indo-Lanka Accord was signed, the LTTE launched a massive
popular campaign to expose the sinister intentions behind India's military
intervention. In the protest meetings, in the demonstrations, in the
boycotts in all forms of mass agitations organised by the LTTE it was women
who participated in large numbers in national politics.
Thileepan's fast unto death campaign
pinnacled the Tamil national protest against India. During the fast our
women cadres organised and mobilised the popular masses to rally around
Thileepan's cause. Hundreds of thousands of women took to the streets in
mass demonstrations and public protests and Thileepan's fast and his
martyrdom became a symbol of national struggle.
When the war broke out between the Indian army and the LTTE, our women
guerrilla units actively participated in the armed conflict and stood
shoulder to shoulder with the men fighters in that historical resistance. In
the battle of Jaffna, our women guerrilla units fought ferociously and
slowed down the pace of the advancing Indian columns. At the battle of
Sithankerni our female freedom fighters confronted a contingent of Indian
troops and in the fierce fighting that ensued an Indian tank was destroyed
and several jawans were killed.
In the Indo-LTTE war which lasted for more than two years, the role and
function of the women combatants has been crucial. Not only did they fight
heroically against the Indian occupation forces, but they also involved
themselves in non-combatant activities i.e. medical care, food supplies,
transportation of arms and ammunitions etc., which helped the war effort. In
the Indo-LTTE war twenty six of our women freedom fighters have attained
The women wing of our liberation movement has contributed substantially
to advance the legitimate struggle of our oppressed people. The courage,
determination and commitment of our women fighters have awakened the
patriotic spirit of the female masses and has mobilised them towards the
cause of national liberation.