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Selyna Peiris

Selyna Peiris is Director at Selyn, the only fair trade guaranteed handloom company in Sri Lanka. She is an Attorney-at-law and has extensive experience in the development sector in areas such as gender, livelihoods, and reconciliation. In this interview with Women Talk, Selyna talks about how Selyn developed into a social enterprise that empowers over thousand women, Selyn’s first sub-brand Sthri that emerged from an ethical fashion collaboration, and the potential of social enterprise in post war Sri Lanka. Continue reading Selyna Peiris

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Layla Gonaduwa

Layla Gonaduwa is an interdisciplinary conceptual artist in Sri Lanka who has exhibited extensively across local and international platforms. She works with enamel, copper, glass, paper, text, and drawings and her art works are intersections of autobiographical and political concepts. In this interview with Women Talk, Layla discusses how her journey as an artist began, her solo and collaborative exhibitions, the concepts and stories behind her art and what it means to have an artistic platform to express herself. Continue reading Layla Gonaduwa

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Asha De Vos

Asha De Vos is a marine biologist and a conservationist based in Sri Lanka, specializing on researching blue whales in the Northern Indian Ocean. She is a PhD of the University of Western Australia. In this interview, Asha talks about how her journey with the ocean began, her research and academic work, international platforms that has opened up for her work, the significance of blue whales as eco-system engineers, and the necessity of paying attention to the conservation of the largest animal that roams this planet. Continue reading Asha De Vos

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Sulochana Dissanayake

Sulochana Dissanayake is the founder and artistic director of Power of Play. She is a multitalented performer, puppeteer, writer, trainer, and theatre director. She is also a theatre and economics major of Bates College, USA. In this interview, Sulochana begins by taking us through the magical journey that took her to USA, South Africa, and Indonesia to study the performing arts and puppetry. She also discusses her work at Power of Play, how her interactive performances are used for building a dialogue on social issues, and the need of securing the traditional arts through cultural sponsorship. Continue reading Sulochana Dissanayake

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Rosanna Flamer-Caldera

Rosanna Flamer-Caldera is an international LGBTIQ rights activist in Sri Lanka. She is the executive director of EQUAL GROUND, an organisation fighting for human and political rights for the LGBTIQ community in Sri Lanka, for thirteen years. In this interview with Women Talk, she talks about the challenging work they do to sensitise the mainstream on LGBTIQ rights, what it means to be LGBTIQ within the cultural and legal contexts of Sri Lanka, and the significance of creating a safe space for LGBTIQ persons. Continue reading Rosanna Flamer-Caldera

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Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala

Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala is the first Sri Lankan to summit Mount Everest. She is also a gender specialist and a feminist activist with years of experience working on women’s rights. In this interview, Jayanthi shares her inspirational journey to Mount Everest, her interests in advocating for gender equality, how she developed a friendship and team spirit with her mountaineering partner Johann Peiris, and how conquering the tallest mountain in the world has also given her a political platform today to talk about conquering gender stereotypes. Continue reading Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala

Shyamala Gomez

Shyamala Gomez is the Executive Director of Centre for Equality and Justice (CEJ). She is a lawyer with two decades of experience in gender and women’s rights. She has researched and published extensively on violence against women, masculinities, rights of migrant workers, land rights of women, women and politics, and women, peace and security. She was the Country Director of FOKUS WOMEN and her illustrious career spans across organisations such as United Nations, International Labour Organisation, and Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions. In this interview with Women Talk, Shyamala discusses her work in a gender space, her journey into women’s rights and law, the findings of CEJ’s study on sexual bribery, the disparities between laws and implementation, the significance of joint co-ownership of land for women, and bringing gender as a vital component into the pedagogy of law. Continue reading Shyamala Gomez

Chanchala Gunewardena

Chanchala Gunewardena is an agri/food entrepreneur and a communications specialist. She is the founder of Kimbula Kithul, a social enterprise that is reviving traditional kithul treacle sourcing in Matara and engaging in production that preserves the natural quality of this uniquely Sri Lankan product. In this interview with Women Talk, Chanchala discusses her incredible journey as an entrepreneur, the significance of adding value to the traditional kithul industry through all natural production, how Kimbula Kithul has provided opportunities to small-holder farmers, and how her expertise in communications has inspired her to create Kimbula Kithul as a natural food brand.  Continue reading Chanchala Gunewardena

Nishadi Liyanage

Nishadi Liyanage is a sustainability and risk management professional. She is currently Assistant Manager of MAS KREEDA, managing social sustainability initiatives, such as gender equality, disability inclusion, social responsibility projects, and sustainability reporting. She is an alumna of the University of Sydney and an Australia Awards scholarship recipient. In this interview with Women Talk, Nishadi talks about the interconnected components of social, financial, and environmental sustainability, the significance of managing sustainable corporates, how women can benefit from sustainable initiatives, and why sustainability reporting should be made mandatory for businesses. Continue reading Nishadi Liyanage

Dr Randika Jayasinghe

Dr Randika Jayasinghe is a Lecturer and Head of the Department of Engineering Technology at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in Sri Lanka. She is a PhD of the University of Western Australia. Her thesis was on developing poverty reducing solutions for sustainable waste management in Sri Lanka. An expert in environmental technology and waste management, in this interview with Women Talk, Randika talks about her passion for science and technology, the significance of taking a social justice stance on waste management, how waste can be used as a resource to empower communities, and how disasters like the Meethotamulla garbage dump collapse can be mitigated by holistically approaching the issue of waste management. Continue reading Dr Randika Jayasinghe

Shimali Perera

Shimali Perera is an Art Psychotherapist, using art to heal adults and children who experience depression, anxiety disorders, stress, abuse, and trauma. She is a Master’s graduate of Art Therapy from Goldsmith’s College, University of London and a registered Art Psychotherapist of the Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association (ANZATA). She also has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, USA. In this interview with Women Talk, Shimali talks about how art is becoming increasingly significant in therapeutic work and what it means to use drawing and expression for healing. Continue reading Shimali Perera

Dr Sepali Kottegoda

Dr Sepali Kottegoda is the Executive Director of the Women and Media Collective. She has decades of experience working on women’s rights and gender in Sri Lanka. In this interview with Women Talk, Sepali reflects on the formative years of the women’s movement in Sri Lanka and discusses reconciliation, political representation, unpaid care work, and sexuality education through a women’s rights lens. Continue reading Dr Sepali Kottegoda

Samadanie Kiriwandeniya

Samadanie Kiriwandeniya is the Chairperson of the SANASA Development Bank and has extensive experience working with microfinance, cooperative banking, social movements, and the development sector. In this interview with Women Talk, Samadanie talks about her lifelong involvement with the SANASA social movement, the significance of paralleling community empowerment with microfinance initiatives, microfinance within a gender space, and the increasing need of recognising the potential of SME development in Sri Lanka. Continue reading Samadanie Kiriwandeniya

Maureen Ernest

Maureen Ernest is a medical doctor, an activist, and a writer. In this interview with Women Talk, Maureen talks about how her own past and personal story drove her to become an activist fighting against and creating awareness on domestic violence, how she discovered herself through writing, and why she is on a quest as a healed healer, sharing her story to inspire other women who have undergone violence. Continue reading Maureen Ernest

Radhika Hettiarachchi

Radhika Hettiarachchi is a development practitioner, arts curator, and researcher who has worked extensively in the areas of reconciliation, peace, and conflict. In this interview with Women Talk, Radhika talks about the significance of the Herstories and the Community Memorialisation Project that curate and archive narratives of resilience and hope in times of war and peace in Sri Lanka. The projects draw on the forms of letter writing, memory mapping, trees of life, multimedia, arts, and exhibitions to document and share oral narratives of women and communities that otherwise may have vanished from history. Continue reading Radhika Hettiarachchi

Achala Samaradiwakara

Achala Samaradiwakara is the co-founder and director of Good Market, Sri Lanka. Good Market is celebrating their fifth anniversary this 9th December, since its inception as a community platform for ethical producers and consumers that is good for people and good for the planet, five years ago. In this interview with Women Talk, Achala talks about the formative phase of Good Market, the potential of social enterprise in strengthening communities, and how the initiative developed into a renowned local and global platform for ethical enterprise. Continue reading Achala Samaradiwakara

Sithara Maduwanthi

Sithara Maduwanthi is the lead drummer of Thurya, an all-female drum ensemble that was formed under the auspices of the University of Visual and Performing Arts. In this interview with Women Talk, Sithara talks about the formative phase of Thurya as a drum ensemble, breaking into the traditionally male-dominated sphere of percussion music in Sri Lanka, how Thurya discovered the unique strengths and rhythms women’s bodies produced as drummers, and their performances and accolades as percussionists. Continue reading Sithara Maduwanthi

Sharanya Sekaram

Sharanya Sekaram is an activist, feminist, writer, researcher, and has extensive experience working in the fields of reconciliation, conflict, gender, youth activism, and community building. In this interview with Women Talk, Sharanya discusses her work in a gender space, the significance of prioritizing relationship education and sexual and reproductive health and rights in Sri Lanka’s post war context, and the challenges of engaging as a feminist and an activist. Continue reading Sharanya Sekaram

Raisa Wickrematunge

Raisa Wickrematunge is Co-Editor of Groundviews. In this interview with Women Talk, Raisa talks about her journey into journalism, her current work in an alternative online media platform that includes engaging with diverse creative and technological mediums, the significance of ethical reporting, and the media’s role in strengthening Sri Lanka’s transitional justice and reconciliation processes. Continue reading Raisa Wickrematunge

Kanchana Amilani

Kanchana Amilani is a multifaceted creative being. She is a poet, short-story writer, a journalist, blogger, and photographer. In this interview with Women Talk, Kanchana talks about her journey of storytelling, her Sinhala poetry and short-story books, how her blog Thinkland inspires and proliferates her creative writing across the cyberspace, her work as a features writer, and her engagements with technology and creative platforms in disseminating poetry and short-stories. Continue reading Kanchana Amilani

Faizun Zackariya

Faizun Zackariya is co-founder of the Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum (MWRAF) and had been in the forefront of the struggle for Muslim personal law reforms since the 1980s. She is an activist, a researcher, and writer. In this interview with Women Talk, she talks about the formative years of MWRAF, the research, experiential and knowledge based advocacy process of reforms pioneered by MWRAF, issues surrounding current implementation of Muslim personal laws, and why it is significant to continue the struggle for reforms in ways that relate to women’s lived realities. Continue reading Faizun Zackariya

Manuri Pabasari Waleboda

Manuri Pabasari Manike Waleboda began her engagements with media and communication as a child artist of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, taking part in the eminent Lama Pitiya children’s program. Today, she has close to two decades of experience working in various media platforms. In this interview, she talks about her childhood that was shaped by her work in radio, her passion for volunteerism, her interests in research, and her research-based publications. Continue reading Manuri Pabasari Waleboda

Sarah Soysa

Sarah Soysa has been committed to working on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) since she volunteered at the Family Planning Association as a university student. She continues her challenging work as an SRHR educator, a feminist, and an advocate for women’s rights. In this interview, Sarah talks about working on SRHR in the plantations sector and postwar areas, access to accurate information on safe medical abortion, myths surrounding the discourse on women’s bodies and abortion, and training thousands of youth as peer educators on SRHR. Continue reading Sarah Soysa

Bernadine Anderson

Bernadine Anderson is the founder and director of La Petite Fleur schools in Sri Lanka. Fondly known as Aunty Bernie by children, staff, and parents alike, she is a passionate educationist and an advocate of social justice. To the inclusive La Petite Fleur schools, children with special needs are exceptional learners. In this interview, Bernadine talks about the significance of inclusive education, the unique needs-based curriculum at the school, and creating the same rights towards educational opportunities for all children alike. Continue reading Bernadine Anderson

Nalini Ratnarajah

Nalini Ratnarajah is a human rights activist and a feminist, who has dedicated decades of her life, advocating for gender equality, justice, and peace. In this interview, Nalini talks about her challenging journey as an activist and human rights defender. She discusses women’s participation in politics, her own experiences in contesting parliamentary elections, the need of contextualising transitional justice processes, and issues relating to female ex-combatants in the East. Continue reading Nalini Ratnarajah

Thulasi Muttulingam

Thulasi Muttulingam is the creator of Humans of Northern Sri Lanka, a Facebook page dedicated to telling stories of people and communities in the North of Sri Lanka. She is also a journalist and feature writer. In this interview with Women Talk, Thulasi talks about having grown up in the Maldives, her return to Sri Lanka, her journey into journalism, her passion for writing about social issues, and her latest research-based work on women, labour, and migration. Continue reading Thulasi Muttulingam

Yasodhara Pathanjali

Yasodhara Pathanjali is an artist based in Sri Lanka. She has held solo exhibitions in London and Galle and has exhibited at the Colomboscope art festival, focusing on the environment and pollution. In this interview with Women Talk, Yasodhara talks about how she realised her dream of becoming an artist at a critical juncture in her life, her work that is inspired by nature and social issues, her imaginative and non-stereotypical children’s literature series, and her work with ethical Sri Lankan fashion labels. Continue reading Yasodhara Pathanjali

Vositha Wijenayake

Vositha Wijenayake is an attorney-at-law, specialising in international environmental law, human rights, climate change, and animal welfare. She is the Executive Director of SLYCAN Trust. In this interview, she talks about climate change policy in Sri Lanka, the significance of transforming policy into action, and the need of recognising gender as a vital component of climate change frameworks. Continue reading Vositha Wijenayake

Vanee Surendranathan

Vanee Surendranathan has over two decades of experience working in the NGO sector. Her specialties focus on community mental health and disability. In this interview, she talks about the significance of community approaches for mental health, issues relating to mental health and the ageing population of Sri Lanka, and the need of paying attention to mental health issues within reconciliation and transitional justice processes. Continue reading Vanee Surendranathan

Sanchia Brown

Sanchia Brown is a journalist and is part of the Women and Media Collective in Sri Lanka. In this interview, Sanchia discusses the significance of internet governance, the importance of online spaces for women, the connection between online and offline spaces, and the need to improve access to the many benefits that the internet and new media has to offer. She also talks about her engagements with radio, television, and alternative media, as well as her love for photography. Continue reading Sanchia Brown

Sharni Jayawardena

Sharni Jayawardena is a photographer and a documentary filmmaker with decades of experience working in the visual media. In this interview, Sharni talks about the power of storytelling and her engagements with audio slideshows, photography exhibitions, and documentaries that bring to public attention diverse untold narratives from the four corners of Sri Lanka. Continue reading Sharni Jayawardena

Dr Deepani Jayantha

Dr Deepani Jayantha is a committed conservationist and a veterinarian who has been working closely on the human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka for about a decade. In this interview with Women Talk, she discusses her passion for elephants, community-led initiatives that are helping to mitigate the human-elephant conflict, and the interconnected social, cultural, and economic dynamics of conservation. She stresses the increasing need to safeguard fast disappearing wildlife habitats in the island and the necessity of generating inclusive development policies that favour communities, wildlife, and the environment. Continue reading Dr Deepani Jayantha

Ameena Hussein

Ameena Hussein is a writer, editor, and publisher based in Sri Lanka. In this interview with Women Talk, Ameena talks about her love for writing, writing about women’s lives, her book ‘The Moon in the Water’, which she says is a love letter to her Muslim community, and her latest non-fiction work on the 14th-century Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta. Continue reading Ameena Hussein

Continue reading Ameena Hussein

Sulochana Peiris

Sulochana Peiris shares her experiences of making documentaries on women, peace, and security in Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia. In this interview with Women Talk, she discusses what it is like to have captured the untold stories of women affected by the 30-year long civil war in Sri Lanka. She also reveals how Yoga has become an inspirational and inseparable part of her life. Continue reading Sulochana Peiris

Amalini De Sayrah

Amalini De Sayrah is a photo journalist passionate about social issues. Her photography projects capture diverse social themes, such as reconciliation, women headed households in the North, food cultures, mental health, and urban development. In this interview with Women Talk, Amalini talks about her photo journalism work, her work at the Centre for Policy Alternatives, the role of social media platforms in engaging young photographers, and how she sees travel as an opportunity to look at the society around her through a humanistic lens. Continue reading Amalini De Sayrah

Sumika Perera

Sumika Perera has been a social activist, working on peace, democracy, gender, and women’s rights in Sri Lanka for over 25 years. In this interview with Women Talk, Sumika talks about how her journey began with joining the farmers’ rights movements in the 1980s, her involvement with the women’s movement in Sri Lanka, and her own experiences of having to face political violence during the late 1980s. She also reflects on how she set up the Women’s Resource Centre, a prominent women’s rights organisation that works with grassroots communities in the Kurunegala district of Sri Lanka. Continue reading Sumika Perera

Paba Deshapriya

Paba Deshapriya discusses the challenging work she does in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights education in Sri Lanka. In this interview with Women Talk, Paba discusses how theatre can be used to inform young people and the increasing need for education to eliminate online hate and revenge targeting young people’s sexuality, bodies, and privacy. Continue reading Paba Deshapriya

Nadya Perera

Documentary and short-fiction filmmaker Nadya Bhimani Perera talks to Women Talk about making her documentary on Rizana Nafeek, the Sri Lankan migrant worker who was executed in Saudi. Nadya discusses issues relating to women migrant workers in Sri Lanka, film as a medium to express women’s narratives, and her short-fiction film, screening at Locarno Open Doors this year. Continue reading Nadya Perera