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Women, who are usually the bread winners in female-headed households (FHHs), face gender discrimination with respect to education, earnings, rights, and economic opportunities. This makes a compelling case for targeting FHHs to reduce poverty.

Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war is an important factor which has contributed to the upward trend in FHHs, particularly in the Northern and Eastern provinces of the country. Currently, it is estimated there are 58,121 FHHs in the Northern Province alone. Studies have shown that members of these households face profound, multi-faceted vulnerabilities, many of which are a by-product of the civil war, and have only worsened in the post-war period.