Everything else.. Inspirational Women 2019/2020

Inspirational Women 2019/2020

2020 Mar 8

International Women’s Day celebrates women and their achievements around the world and is a prime focus in the movement for women’s rights. Our own nation has an abundance of women with a wide range of talents, from brainiacs to sportswomen to powerful businesswomen. Multi-tasking is engrained in their bones and there is no end to the struggles they face everyday, from lack of access to equal opportunity to navigating career and motherhood. Although countless women achieve great things everyday, this women’s day, we celebrate the accomplishments of 11 phenomenal ladies who have not held back in making an impact over the last year!


Anna-Marie Ondaatje

One of four female gymnasts from Sri Lanka to represent at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Anna-Marie won the overall championship at the International Rhythmic Gymnastics Tournament “Zurich Cup 2020’’. At only 20 years old, she is a senior International Level Rhythmic Gymnast, Entrepreneur and Goodwill Ambassador for the, A Quint Ondaatje Foundation Sri Lanka. Her other accolades include winning three gold medals and one silver medal at India’s 1st International Rhythmic Gymnastics cup 2019 in Hyderabad. She also went on to bag two bronze medals at Canada’s biggest international Rhythmic Gymnastics competition 2019 Koop Cup, and ranked at the 11th Asian Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Pattaya, Thailand. Anna-Marie also has plans of launching her own Apparel and cosmetics line as well as compete in the Miss Universe pageant and we can’t wait to see what she’ll accomplish next!


Arshcharya Peiris

After losing her eyesight as a victim of the suicide bomb blast claimed by the LTTE in March 2000, Arshcharya Peiris went from being a banker to a fashion designer and motivational speaker. Her perseverance resulted in her becoming a finalist in Sri Lanka’s up and coming Fashion designer competition and was featured in BBC’s list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2019. The boss energy is strong in this one!


Asha De Vos

Asha De Vos has been making tidal waves over the last few years with her work in Marine Biology and numerous accolades. But, as of 2019, she became the first Sri Lankan woman to have her portrait hung at Oxford’s Lincoln College 15th Century Hall. This woman just keeps on finding ways to make our country proud!


Caroline Jurie

Caroline Jurie was crowned Mrs. World 2020 at the World Pageant held in Las Vegas, United States, bringing back the title to Sri Lanka after Rosy Senanayake, who was crowned 35 years ago. She also runs a social campaign called ‘Be You’ which aids children with special needs. Her mission is to encourages youth to pursue their passion and goals in life through her own life story, without the constraints put forward by society.


Dr. Hasini Jayatilaka

Image from mandlabs.com
Post-Doctoral Researcher from Stanford Hasini Jayatilaka put our island on the map when she made was listed in Forbes ’30 under 30′, in the Science category. Her Discovery of a signal pathway that controls the metastasis of cancer cells within the body and a method to block this pathway could mean that a cure for a deadly disease that claims a significant number of lives every year could be on the way!


Mathilda Karlsson

Sri Lankan born Mathilda Karlsson was adopted by Swedish parents at just three months old and started attending riding school when she got older. She has now become the first Sri Lankan show jumper to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics!. A recent visit to Sri Lanka inspired to switch her nationality back sparked her dream of bringing back an Olympic medal to our country. Supported by the Sri Lanka Equestrian Association, her first debut for Sri Lanka was at the ‘Longines Global Champions Tour of Monaco 2018’. Here’s to pushing the nation forward by leaps and bounds!


Marini De Livera

Women and Children’s Rights activist Marini De livera is a force to be reckoned with. An attorney at law by profession, she was appointed as the new chairperson of National Child Protection Act (NCPA) in 2017. Although her tireless work and selfless dedication to victims of abuse and children in poverty earned her a number of enemies, she went on to receive  International Women of Courage Award by the United States Department of State. A true phoenix rising from the ashes!


Ornella Gunasekere

Former Miss Universe contestant Ornella Gunasekere once again made our nation proud when she was crowned ‘The Toughest Model on Earth’. Her participation in ‘The Mount Everest Fashion Runway’ led to her being part of a Guinness World Record. The Runway was set up in Kala Patthar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and won the record for ‘The Highest Altitude Fashion Runway’. What makes Ornella’s achievement particularly special is that she has undergone two spinal surgeries and has titanium rods screwed into her back!


Shavini Fernando

An inspiring story of a woman who took her fate into her own hands. Shavini Fernando is the founder of OxiWear, a wearable tech product that monitors vital signs and sends an emergency alert when they go out of the normal range. She is currently working on making Oxiwear available to the public by October 2020. Shavini was diagnosed with a hole in the heart and pulmonary hypertension after she ran short of breath while trekking in Sri Lanka. She was given two years to live. Her nickname ‘Wonder Woman’ is well and truly deserved!


Shemara Wikramanayake 

Image from fortune.com

Immigrating from Sri Lanka with her family at just 14 years old with just 200 dollars in cash, Shemara Wikramanayake took the spotlight as Australia’s highest paid Chief Executive Officer. Having received her education at the University of New South Wales as well as Harvard, this mother of two spent a year as a corporate lawyer and had already been recognised as one of Australia’s highest-paid executives. She is the only female CEO among Australia’s 20 biggest companies by market value. A true inspiration for women everywhere!


Suba Sivakumaran

Image from asianmoviepulse.com

Although she is the holder of professional qualifications in Economics and Political Science and has worked for the UN, as a teenager, Suba Sivakumaran had a passion for filmmaking. Taking Sri Lanka’s male-dominated film industry by storm, she received the Most Promising Filmmaker award at the seventh Derana Film Awards 2019.


Dr. Sulochana Segera

Aiming to empower women everywhere, Dr Sulochana Segera founded Women in Management, a private limited company that mentors women and benefits them in careers and businesses. Her accolades include the Global CSR Excellence Award (2018), the Women Super Achievement award (2017) and the Leadership Excellence Award (2016). In 2019, she was awarded the Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 by the Steering and Selections committee of the Global Entrepreneur Council. There’s nothing we don’t like about a powerhouse that helps other women rise with her!


Vidusha Lakshani

In the midst of a bleak time, post Easter Sunday attacks, Vidusha Lakshani brought a glimmer of hope and faith to our nation. Bearing a black armband in honour of the victims, she went on to secure a bronze medal in the Triple Jump event at the 23rd Asian Athletics Championship. With a leap of 13.53 metres, she truly took the hopes of other Sri Lankan sportswomen to new heights!

These women have defeated difficult times, fought back fearlessly and persevered relentlessly and we’re super excited to see a new wave of women leaders moving above and beyond glass ceilings in the years to come!