SAARC International Women’s Day celebrations were held in collaboration with the University of the Visual and Performing Arts in Colombo on 8th March 2019. Guests of Honour was Mrs. Sumithra Peries renowned filmmaker, Mrs. Sumithra Rahubadda well-known author and Mrs. Mercy Nalini Edussuriya educationist.
The celebrations commenced with the lighting of the traditional oil lamp by the dignitaries present which included Director of SAARC Cultural Centre – Mrs. Renuka Ekanayake, Vice Chancellor, University of the Visual and Performing Arts – Senior Prof. Sarath Chandrajeewa, Special Guest Speakers Film Maker – Mrs. Sumitra Peries, Educationist – Mrs. M.N. Edussuriya and Author – Mrs. Sumitra Rahubadda. The honoured Member States were represented by H.E. M. Ashraf Haidari – Ambassador of Afghanistan, Mr. Ali Khan – Counsellor, High Commission of Bangladesh, Mr. Niteen Subhash Yeola – Head of Press, Information and Culture – High Commission of India, Ms. Khadheeja Najeeha – Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Maldives, Ms. Dhana Kumari Joshi – Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Nepal, Mr. Intisar Ahmed Sulhery – Press Attaché – High Commission of Pakistan and Ms. Yasoja Gunasekara – Director General South Asia and SAARC Division – Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sri Lanka. Prof. Ariyaratne Kaluarachchi – Former Vice Chancellor – University of the Visual and Performing Arts, Dr. Soumya Liyanage – Dean – Faculty of Graduate Studies and Dr. Indika Ferdinando – Acting Dean of the Faculty of Dance & Drama, Mr. G.R. Padmasiri – Librarian of the University of the Visual and Performing Arts.
The other dignitaries present to celebrate the SAARC International Women’s Day were Mrs. Razzak – spouse of the Ambassador of Maldives, Ms. Shajna Ibrahim – Second Secretary of the Embassy of Maldives, Mrs. Chitranganee Wagiswara – Former Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India, Ms. Sanuja Kasthuriarachchi – Acting Director General of Museums, Ms. Heshani Bogollagama – Chairperson of the National Crafts Council, senior officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs, Livestock Development, Irrigation and Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development, Mrs. Roshni De Saram – President of the SAARC Women’s Association in Sri Lanka, Dr. Janaki Kuruppu – Chairperson of Mother Sri Lanka Foundation, etc.
The welcome address was made by Mrs. Renuka Ekanayake – Director of the SAARC Cultural Centre which was followed by an intriguing presentation on women through art by the Senior Prof. Sarath Chandrajeewa – Vice Chancellor of the University of the Visual and Performing Arts. This was followed by the first special Guest Speaker Mrs. Sumithra Peries who recounted the trials and tribulations of her journey and the changing roles in the film industry highlighting that during the early stages of the film industry editing of films was considered a woman’s job as it required patience and skill in splicing the film but now it has become male dominated as the creative challenges of editing films became more interesting. This was followed by a dance item depicting the changes faced by women in Maldives presented by the young girls of the Maldives Education and Cultural Centre (MECC) in Colombo. The next special Guest Speaker was Mrs. Marcy Nalini Edussuriya who spoke about her own education and the importance of education in all children’s lives. She also highlighted that a woman should have confidence and self-worth and that is the success of life. The next item was a special song to commemorate the SAARC International Women’s Day celebrations performed by the students of the University of Visual and Performing Arts. Mrs. Sumithra Rahubadda, the final speaker of the day stated that although women have made many strides in different industries in Sri Lanka there is a lack of women’s participation in policy making. This was followed by the vote of thanks given by the Deputy Director Programmes Ms. Kishani Jayasinghe Wijayasekara and culminating with a dance, performed by the students of the University of Visual and Performing Arts.
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