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‘iLead’: Ten Women Come Together to Shape Sri Lanka’s Future on International Women’s Day

2021 Mar 6

For the first time in Sri Lanka, 10 highly-accomplished women from diverse fields of influence will come together on the same stage to share insights on what they would do differently if they were given the opportunity to lead the country.

The event is planned to coincide with the International Women’s Day 2021 and will be held at Lotus Ballroom, Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo, on March 8, 2021, at 7 pm and will be attended by a distinguished audience. 

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, Sri Lanka (FNF) and NextGenSL — Sri Lanka’s only cross-party youth political platform — have organised this event to ensure that women are given a platform to shape the future of Sri Lanka.

Kasturi Chellaraja Wilson (Group CEO, Hemas Holdings PLC), Varuni Amunugama-Fernando (Joint Managing Director, Triad), Prof. Janitha Liyanage (Vice-Chair – University Grants Commission), Sriyani Kulawansa (Former Olympic Athlete), Dr. Santhushya Fernando (Public Health Specialist and Deputy Director Sri Jayawardenapura Hospital), Indeewari Amuwatte (Head of English News – Derana), Ameena Hussein (Author and Publisher),  Samadani Kiriwandeniya(Former Chairperson – Sanasa Bank), Sarah Kabir (Writer, Researcher and Author) and Nilshani De Silva (‘Reaching for the Stars’ award-winner by the Sri Lanka Association for Child Development) will be featured as speakers at the event. 

“The primary objective of the project is to demonstrate the manner in which women will lead if given access to decision-making platforms and adequate opportunities in governance. This will also convince the key decision-makers as to why there should be measures to meaningfully address the underrepresentation of women in politics,” Hubertus von Welck, Head of Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s office in Sri Lanka said, of the event. 

“Although women are a majority in Sri Lanka, making 52% of the population, they have been historically subjugated by a patriarchal system that has hindered their social progress. Leadership, for instance, has come amidst great challenges and personal sacrifice, and even though Sri Lanka has been engaged in a nation-building exercise these past 73 years, the representation of women in politics is one of the lowest in South Asia. We, as Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) are deeply committed to doing our part to help Sri Lanka address this pertinent issue,” he emphasised.

“Towards this end, we have carried out a number of initiatives since our establishment in Sri Lanka. For instance, with our #FemaleForward international campaign we have empowered the everyday female heroes in this region. Our objective is to raise awareness around the issues that women face in their daily lives in South Asian society. iLead is another initiative through which we feature highly-accomplished women who are able to shape Sri Lanka’s future,” he added.

In this latest initiative, Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) is joined by NextGenSL, which brings together young politicians and political activists across the spectrum. Rasika Jayakody and Milinda Rajapakshe, two youth leaders within the main political camps, are the co-conveners of the initiative, which began during a heated political crisis in December 2018. It has organised many public and media events thus far, giving a platform to dynamic young politicians from all parties to voice their views.

A number of young political figures from the main political parties are currently working with NextGenSL in various capacities and its main objective is to drive positive youth engagement in politics and work towards addressing challenges that prevent young people — both men and women —  from actively engaging in politics. It also seeks to facilitate a healthy political culture and an inclusive platform where diverse political views could be discussed in an amicable manner. 

NextGenSL stands for a political culture driven by integrity and transparency. It has facilitated a number of workshops across the country on the need for campaign financing regulations, countering online hate and cyberbullying, essential digital and social media skills for political activists and many other areas that will support and enrich the political space of Sri Lanka.

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