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✊ Beyond Victims #2022 - Sri Lanka

Our third edition of this year’s Beyond Victims Series brings you stories of inspiring women political leaders from Sri Lanka.

Through this series, we are committed to move beyond victimising women in politics or seeing them as beneficiaries of reservation and rethink their role as change-makers and leaders from the grassroots to the top.

Hirunika Premachandra

Former Member of Parliament

Hirunika is the National Organizer of the Samagi Vanitha Balawegaya, SJB’s women’s wing. She was instrumental in the 2022 people’s protests, courageously leading marches and protests by mobilising youth and women. Prior to becoming a Member of Parliament, she served as the Member of Western Provincial Council. She fights sexism in politics and advocates for political accountability.

– Roar Media, Jul 2022

Ferial Ashraff

Former MP & Minister

Ferial won elections from Digamadulla electoral district and served as its Member of Parliament between 2000 and 2010. She became the first Muslim woman to hold a Cabinet position and served as the Minister of Housing, Construction and Industries. After the 2004 Tsunami, she set in motion the various housing and reconstruction efforts for the Eastern province.

– EveryStory SL, Nov 2021

Lihini Fernando

Municipal Council Member, Moratuwa

Lawyer by profession, Lihini is a social activist and politician, currently serving as a member of Moratuwa Municipal Council. She advocates for improved women’s representation and plans to create spaces and opportunities for women to be business owners, political leaders and legislators., Nov 2021

Rakeeba Ansar

Local Council Member, Kattankudy

Rakeeba Ansar set foot in politics by winning a seat in her local council in Eastern Sri Lanka, aspiring for effective, women-driven governance. She is dedicated to promoting quality education — especially for young women — and improving waste management in her community. She also engages with various community-based organisations, including a disaster management group and two women’s networks.

– USAID, Aug 2021

Sudarshini Fernandopulle

Member of Parliament

Sudarshini is a three-time Member of Parliament and has held several portfolios in Deputy and State minister posts. She leads cross-party women parliamentarians’ caucus. As a state minister for health and Covid disease control, she played a critical role in Covid-19 relief efforts. She is very vocal about women’s rights and had recently called out her own party MP, who verbally abused another colleague in the parliament.

– Multiple Sources

Drafted by: Apala Naithani, Riya Gangwal, Vibhuti Sikand

Edited by: Akhil Neelam

Design: Vida Seraphina (

Thank you for reading Beyond Victims!

This year’s Beyond Victims series will span eight editions, covering stories of inspiring women’s political leadership across South Asia. Get them in your inbox by joining our mailing list.

Women for Politics is an initiative of Centre for Gender And Politics (CGAP).

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