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IMRA Awards for Excellence 2024 held at the Lotus Ballroom, Shangri-La Hotel on the 3rd of March 2024

16 March 2024 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Giving way to an occasion for the first time that recognised and celebrated Muslim Women Achievers which will be a biannual event going forward created a milestone in the annals of the history of the entire Muslim Community in Sri Lanka. The All-Ceylon Muslim Women’s Association (ACMWA) driven by the initiative taken by Director Mrs. Fathima Aziz of the Denara Training Institute, a subsidiary of the ACMWA took it upon themselves to make it a reality.

As the evening unfolded, a time for fellowship and photo capturing against the photo booth was enjoyed by those who came in early before the doors of the ballroom were opened to the guests. Entering the Lotus Ballroom, one was enveloped by an elegant surrounding, with subtle lighting, a stunning backdrop mastered by Imran Saibo of Funtime Productions and the beautifully dressed tables and chairs accessorized with elegant cutlery and crockery, foliage, and lit candles. Gift bags and welcome treats were handed out to every guest who graced the occasion.

As the proceedings of the evening’s programme commenced by the well-known Adam Adamally of compering fame and also a President’s Counsel by profession, honoring the National Anthem, a recital of a Quranic Verse Surah 49 Al Hujarat which talks about diversity and an opening song by the versatile Umara, the keynote speaker Deshamanya Radhika Coomaraswamy was warmly welcomed to the podium to address the gathering.

Ms. Coomaraswamy who received her BA from Yale University, her J.D. from Columbia University and her LLM from Harvard University also held key roles in Sri Lanka, including Director of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies and Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission. She served as UN Under Secretary General and Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, and as UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women. Appointed to the UN Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar and the Secretary General's Board of Advisors on Mediation, she became a Member of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia in 2022 and imparted many words of wisdom to the audience which was well received.

The many anxious Achievers were then given their due recognition and called up to the stage to receive their awards. They took pride in enlightening the audience with a minute of their time-sharing highlights of their careers. Eleven Categories were selected comprising Media won by Mrs. Rezani Aziz, Hospitality and Tourism by Mrs. Yasmin Cader, Banking and Finance by Mrs. Feroza Ameen, Healthcare by Dr. Mrs. Shemoon Marleen, Law and Advocacy by Mrs. Farzana Jameel PC, Arts & Culture by Mrs. Haadiya Galely, Business Entrepreneurship by Mrs. Shahnasz Hakeem, two Awards by IMRA for Young Biz Entrepreneur Achievement Award by Mrs. Nuha Ghouse and Mrs. Saarah Deen Ismail, IMRA Award for Social Impact won by

Mrs. Juwairiya Mohideen and the Award for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) was grabbed by Dr. Rozana Himaz.

In addition to the above awards, four Lifetime Achievement Awards were given to Ms Anushya Coomaraswamy for her dynamics in the Finance Sector, Mrs. Neetha Dhammachari Ariyaratne for the social work she continues to do as the founder of the Sarvodaya Suwasetha Women’s Movement addressing women’s issues, Mrs. Ferial Ashroff a Sri Lankan Politician, activist and social worker who was also the first Muslim woman to be a representative of  Sri Lanka in a foreign state when she was appointed High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Singapore and Deshabandu Jezima Ismail for her contribution and service extended to society in her capacity as an educator, broadcaster, social activist and as an advocate for human rights.

The eminent Judges on the panel who selected the winners were none other than Feisal Salieh, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka besides holding top management positions in global and local banks also chaired the Panel of Judges. On the Panel were also Dhara Wijayatilake, Attorney at Law with over 50 years of experience serving in the Lankan Public Service for over 40 years ably assisted by Sharmila Panditaratne, Asst. Director Legal Securities and Exchange Commission who holds a master’s degree from the University of Houston, Texas who worked in two law firms in the US specializing in Tax Law and Healthcare. Joined by Anoji de Silva a financial professional and practicing accountant and Fellow Member of CA Sri Lanka together with Sandra de Zoysa the Group Chief Customer Experience Expert Working Group of Axiata; and Knowledge partner being KPMG. Mrs. Nayana Karunaratne substituted for Anoji de Silva on one session with the rest of the Judges.

The evening ended with the gala dinner buffet by Shangri-La Hotel, a closing song by Umara and live music creating the ideal ambience while having dinner. Coffee and Tea were wheeled in for those who chose to enjoy a cuppa before winding down.

The Denara Training Institute and the All-Ceylon Muslim Women’s Association wishes to thank the sponsors and the Wijaya Newspapers Limited for their unstinted support which made it the success it was. 


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