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First session: THE PIONEERS
8th March 2021 from 4.30pm onwards 


UNFPA Sri Lanka joins the Cargills International Women’s Day Festival of Change Makers as Event Sponsor on 8th March 2021, which is International Women's Day.  UNFPA Sri Lanka is keen on spotlighting the concept of equality as a human right, and hence, the day includes a panel of women pioneers and a panel of leading males who have re-defined a world of work with gender meritocracy at the helm.  It is their experiences, challenges, solutions and ground realities that will be discussed in depth, in these two sessions on 8th March 2021 starting at 4.30 pm.

Representative of UNFPA Sri Lanka Ritsu Nacken adds clarity to this collaboration, "As the lead UN agency working on sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence, UNFPA has been supporting the Government of Sri Lanka for nearly 50 years to ensure the rights of women and girls are protected and promoted.  As the Festival is featuring women who have challenged the status quo of gender norms and dynamics in different walks of life, UNFPA believes that this will serve as a powerful and inspirational message to other women, girls, and for all people everywhere. We look forward to working closely with Table by Taru and Kaleidoscope as the Event Partner for the ‘Pioneers’ and ‘Male Perspective’ episodes in shaping the narrative of the day to better communicate the messages around International Women’s Day 2021.”

While the first session features Joint Managing Director of Triad, Varuni Amunugama Fernando, Group CEO of HEMAS Holdings PLC, Kasturi Chellaraja, and Sri Lanka’s first female hip-hop artist Ashanthi De Alwis, as The Pioneers in their various fields, the second session on the 8th of March features an all-male panel.  These male voices from leading global companies will discuss men’s roles in the gender equality movement at the Festival being held at Table by Taru at Lake Lodge, a Small Luxury Boutique Hotel in the heart of the city, collaborating with Savithri Rodrigo, who will be moderating the sessions at the Change Makers Festival. 



Bingumal Thewarathanthri

Chief Executive Officer -

Standard Chartered Sri Lanka
“I accept the invitation to be a part of the Cargills International Women’s Day Festival, to offer a ‘Male Perspective’, with great pleasure. At Standard Chartered Sri Lanka, achieving gender balance in our workforce is a priority for us, and it is a matter of pride that we maintain gender balance at 50:50 across the Bank. For too long, women have been denied their rightful place in the corporate echelon, and we laud and champion the strong women taking up the mantle of leadership, breaking barriers and creating spaces for generations to come.”


Arjuna Nanayakkara:

Head of Shared Services Center,

LSEG Sri Lanka
"Women contributing equally takes many shapes; corporate work, entrepreneurship, medical to agriculture to construction to hospitality industries, to parenting and all other types of work in between.  The rest of the world is losing out in Million and Trillions of Dollars by putting up barriers for women to contribute at their peak. At LSEG, Inclusion is a strategic priority as we believe this drives collaboration and innovation. Enabling women be their best self, personally and professionally, is a clear win-win!! We have a global target of achieving 40% gender diversity, putting the building blocks in place to attract, engage and promote in the company."


Ishan Dantanarayana:

Group Chief People Officer,

 “Brandix is happy to be on board and have the opportunity to share our vision for gender equality across a platform like ‘Cargills International Women’s Day: The Change Makers’. As an equal opportunity employer, we strive to create an inclusive workplace that provides a best-in-class work environment with a wholesome employee experience. Influencing gender equality as a norm across an organization like Brandix with nearly 85% female representation is a unique yet rewarding opportunity. As leadership members, we play a key role in ensuring our commitment to redefining the workplace and facilitating positive changes that support this vision. I look forward to a stimulating discussion with the other panelists and sharing our insights while learning from their best practices as well.”

Founded on the theme for International Women’s Day 2021, “Women in Leadership:  Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”, this Festival is a first of its kind featuring a galaxy of active change makers, who as thought leaders have prompted and impacted change in disciplines, competencies and careers. Seating is limited as stringent COVID-19 guidelines are being followed to create a safe environment for all participants while maintaining the intimate ambience Taru is renowned for.  


Tickets are priced at Rs. 20,000 for the Festival Pass (which gives access to all Festival events) and Rs. 6,000 for the Day Pass to an individual event. For more information, call 0768 119 191.

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