Empowering women

By Megara Tegal

As Bob Dylan sang, ‘the times they are a changing’. Women have come a long way over the years having fought and stumbled out of the confines of being the ‘dependent’ sex.

It’s safe to say that Sri Lanka is one of the pioneering countries in empowering women, being the first country to have been governed by a female Prime Minister. Sadly, while Sri Lanka has taken leaps in this area, there are still a large group of women, young and old, who are shuffling in the shadows, uncertain about venturing out on their own and becoming self-sufficient individuals. Giving these women a hand, is the Sri Lanka Girl Guide Association (SLGGA). A new project to be launched launched by the organisation on world Women’s day, is the brain child of Shaleeka Abeygunasekera, director of communications, SLGGA.

This is one of many projects that have been planned in commemoration of the 100 years of service of the Girl Guiding and Scouting world over. The foundation of the World Girl Guides and Girl Scouts Association (WGGGSA) is to empower women, and this project is designed to facilitate that core aspect.
Roughly 800 O/L and A/L students have been invited to participate in discussions organised by the SLGGA, regarding the role of women in challenging professions. The discussions are to be addressed by leading women in Sri Lanka. Among others the panel of speakers will comprise of women of the calibre of Prof. Savitri Goonesekera as well as Sharmini Ratwatte who is the non-executive director of John Keells PLC and MAS and Investements- chairman of the Environmental Foundation Limited.

Two other speakers include, Nihara Jayatilleke who is currently managing her own satellite television company and is also the Managing Director of the Asian Aviation Centre (Pvt) Ltd, the pioneer aviation academy in Sri Lanka engaged in the training of Pilots and aircraft/ aerospace engineers, as well as Linda Speldewinde who is the founder and Managing Director, Academy of Design.

Providing the young women with some of the tools and know-how they will need such as, insight into stepping out of the world they are familiar with, reassuring them and empowering them, the discussion will be moderated by Visakha Tillekeratne who is the National Programme Officer at the World Health Organisation.

Aiming to reach young women and girls from all across the country, SLGGA plans to organise several more discussion which will be held in other regions of the country. The discussion on the role of women in challenging professions, will be held on March 9,from 9.30am – 12.00pm at the Homagama Central College Hall.

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