Women in Logistics and Transport Sri Lanka Celebrates International Women’s Day

Women in Logistics and Transport Sri Lanka celebrates International Women’s Day
  • Key event’s theme “Empowering Women: Striking Balance and Nurturing Wellbeing”

Women in Logistics and Transport (WiLAT) Sri Lanka on 21 March, the same day that it was formed 11 years ago, celebrated the International Women’s Day on the theme “Empowering Women: Striking Balance and Nurturing Wellbeing” at Lavender Hall, BMICH and the audience comprised of mostly students and undergraduates from recognised universities in the country offering Supply Chain and Logistics degrees.

The event commenced with a ceremonial lighting of the oil lamp by Chairperson and Vice Chairpersons of WiLAT Sri Lanka, WiLAT SL Co-founders and past Chairpersons, President of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Sri Lanka, panellists, a student representative of WiLAT SL and representatives from CILT SL Corporate Partners including South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT), Hayleys Advantis Ltd. and Event Sponsor Expolanka Freight Ltd. (EFL).

Event Chair and Vice Chairperson for Branding and Sponsorship of WiLAT SL Rumal Fernando CMILT, officially welcomed the gathering. Rumal Fernando in her speech revealed the theme of the event emphasising more on the importance of striking a good balance between work for professionals and students alike in this fast-moving world. She also introduced and welcomed the keynote speaker and the panellists who graced the occasion and encouraged the participants to reap as many benefits as they could from both the two key segments planned out for the day.

University of Colombo Faculty of Medicine Medical Humanities Senior Lecturer Dr. Santhushya Fernando, then took the stage to deliver a speech on “Power of Art for Balance in Life”. In her speech she touched upon Stoic philosophy and how teachings and practices in stoicism can be applied to one’s life to find greater balance and peace of mind even amongst many odds and adversities. The audience experienced a soothing yet interesting presentation as she drew from some beautiful melodies and stories to support her builds on the topic.

Following Dr. Santhushya’s speech, a quick mentee session was introduced to the participants and panellists as an icebreaker to understand the levels of understanding and perceptions on abuse and their own perceptions around the same. This created an ideal platform for the panellist and the moderator to move to the next segment in the agenda which was a panel discussion themed as “Overcoming abuse and taking control”. This discussion was moderated by WiLAT SL Exco member Indeewari Chandrasekara MILT and the distinguished panel comprised of expertise from their respective fields; University of Sri Jayewardenepura Faculty of Business Studies and Commerce Professor in Business Administration Prof. Hemamali Gunathilaka, Ministry of Health Sri Lanka Family Health Bureau Gender and Women’s Health National Programme Manager Dr. Dinusha Perera and Dr. Santhushya Fernando.

Dr. Santhushya Fernando laid the foundation to the discussion by explaining on different forms of abuse including the term ‘micro abuse’, which was a new learning for many, and how can someone identify abuse as it happens or before, using any signs of abusive behaviour. She also briefed on how one becomes abusive to others and reasons behind such negative actions. Then she went on to quote from the movie, “Thappad” and invited the audience to watch the same as it highlights the importance of saying “no” to abuse despite how severe it is. Dr. Dinusha Perera touched upon ways and methods of reporting abuse in Sri Lanka and loopholes in the local frameworks which need to be addressed immediately. She also educated the listeners on challenges faced by survivors of abuse and how we can best support them to get back with their normal lives.

Prof. Hemamali Gunathilaka explained that not only women, but men also can get abused though it’s not a topic that is often discussed. She clarified why it is a less discussed topic in the society, which she reasoned as due to lack of reporting combined with the fact that they want to suppress their emotions and not expose themselves as abusees. She also enlightened the audience, where the majority were young professionals and students, on how to create a more conducive environment for both men and women at all places. Before moving to Q&A, all three panellists shared an experience of abuse from their own lives or of someone they know, elaborating on how they identified it, overcame, and took control of the situation back then. The discussion received constructive comments from the audience appreciating the selection of a timely and impactful topic and a participant inquired the panellists on how the education system in Sri Lanka should be rewired to provide the required knowledge and awareness on abuse to school children. WiLAT SL Chairperson Prof. Renuka Herath CMILT presented the tokens of appreciation to the panellists recognising their effort and contribution towards the event.

The panel discussion was followed by a ceremonial cake cutting, symbolising the 11th anniversary of WiLAT Sri Lanka along with the celebration of International Women’s Day. WiLAT SL Co-founders Gayani De Alwis FCILT and Namalie Siyambalapitiya FCILT, WiLAT SL past Chairperson Gayathri Karunanayake CMILT, WiLAT SL Chairperson Prof. Renuka Herath CMILT and Vice Chairperson of Branding and Sponsorship Rumal Fernando CMILT joined this joyous occasion. Reflecting on the event, Gayani De Alwis FCILT said, “I am proud of WiLAT SL for bringing up a taboo topic to centre stage and creating a discourse among students, men and women of CILT, well done!” 

“It was a well-executed program which was not only useful and timely, but also with many learnings for the audience”, added Prof. Renuka Herath CMILT.

The event concluded with a heartfelt vote of thanks delivered by Debbie Dissanayake CMILT from organising committee, expressing gratitude to all attendees, well-wishers of WiLAT SL, corporate partners of CILT SL, event sponsor, media outlets for providing event coverage and the other facilitators for their co-operation. She admired the swift response and contributions of the sponsors upon invitations from WiLAT SL. As the celebration ended, Nisansala Liyanapathirana CMILT, MC of the event encouraged the young audience to network and engage in more constructive and insightful conversations with the panellists and fellow members who were present at the occasion. Participants were also given a thank you note from SAGT and delicacies from WiLAT SL sponsored by EFL as a token of gratitude and unity.

(Source: Daily Mirror)