8 March 2019 : International Women’s Day [fr]
On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, we would like to pay tribute to these outstanding Women who contribute or contributed to the advancement of women :
Sirimavo Bandaranaike, born on 17 April 1916, became the first woman Prime Minister in the world when she was chosen to head the Sri Lankan Freedom Party government in 1960, following the assassination of her husband Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, Though she got defeated in 1960 general elections, she made a comeback and served two more terms as Prime Minister, from 1970 to 1977 and again from 1994 to 2000. In 1994, she was the Prime Minister while her daughter Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga served as the fourth Executive President in Sri Lanka. She resigned from her post of Prime Minister in 2000 and died on 10 October 2000 of a heart attack.
Minnette de Silva, born in Kandy on 1st February 1918 was an internationally recognized architect, considered the pioneer of the modern architectural style in Sri Lanka. De Silva was also the first Asian representative of International Congresses of Modern Architecture (CIAM) in 1947 and was one of the founding members of the Architectural publication Marg. In the post-war period, she is one of the few women architects - with the Brazilian Lina Bo Bardi - to run her own architecture office. She is one of the founding members of Alliance française de Kandy in 1967.
Dinushika Dissanayake is a lawyer committed to human rights and post-conflict dispute resolution in Sri Lanka. She is an activist, recognized by her peers and also active both professionally and personally. Between 2014 and 2017, she worked with the Sri Lankan NGO Law and Society Trust (LST). Since January 2018 she works as Amnesty International’s South Asia’s Deputy Director for Research. She received the Chirac Prize for Conflict Prevention in 2018 by the Fondation Chirac.
Sumitra Peries, born on 24 March 1934, is the first Sri Lankan female filmmaker and is known by all as the "Poetess of Sinhala Cinema". She was conferred the distinction of ‘Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ (Knight in the Order of Arts and Literature) in 2014. The decision to bestow this honour onto Mrs. Sumitra Peries was taken in recognition of her invaluable contribution as an author, a film director with an aesthetic sense and a recognized talent which testify for her love of freedom, her sensitivity and her gift for creation, not to mention her active contribution to promote French culture in Sri Lanka. The joint-homage was given by the Cinémathèque française in honour of Sumitra and Dr Lester James Peries in 1988. The 3rd Festival of Asian Cinema in Deauville presented Lotus d’Or Award to both wife and husband together in recognition of their significant contribution to international cinema. She has served as ambassador of Sri Lanka in France, Spain and the United Nations in the late 1990s.
Shreen Abdul Saroor, founder of the Mannar Women’s Development Federation and founding member of the Women’s Action Network, in known for her fight against women’s rights violations in the economic, social and cultural spheres and more generally in favor of the empowerment of women. Shreen Abdul Saroor received the Franco-German Human Rights Award in December 2017.