Juwairiya Mohideen is a Muslim woman human rights defender based in Puttalam in the North West of Sri Lanka. She and her family are part of the northern Muslim community that were forcibly displaced by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in October 1990. 30 years later, she continues to live in a refugee settlement in Puttalam. Juwairiya started her work with the Rural Development Foundation providing support for the IDP community Over a fifteen-year period, she identified a critical gap in dedicated support for women and girls within the local human rights/humanitarian aid sector. In 2010 she established the Muslim Women’s Development Trust (MWDT), on which she serves as the Executive Director. MWDT provides daily practical support, comfort, advice and legal assistance to women and girls facing abuse, violence and discrimination. Juwairiya is at the front line of calls for reform in Muslim personal laws which deny Muslim women and girls the basic rights enjoyed by their non-Muslim sisters in Sri Lanka. Juwairiya has been undeterred by threats against her and her family, blatant misinformation and attacks on her character and being labelled as a traitor and shunned by parts of her close knit community.
Juwairiya Mohideen survived being forcibly displaced in her youth and becoming an internally displaced person (IDP) in her own country. Without formal education beyond grade school, Juwairiya has gone on to start and lead an important women's rights organization, Muslim Women's Development Trust (MWDT) and become a pillar in her community, even as she faces intimidation, threats and harassment.