Speech by Dr. Sulochana Segera Founder/Chairperson of WIM at the Top 50 Awards

Ayubowan!

Hon. Members of Parliament, Diplomats, International Delegates, Ladies & gentlemen.

It gives me great pleasure to officially commence the ‘Top 50’ Professional & Career Women Awards 2017 Seventh Edition.

I am honestly not prepared to give a speech because I was not sure weather I could climb the stage. Anyhow since I am here let me share few thoughts about women and awards.

Common knowledge is women wants to be appreciated. But with my personal experience of WIM Awards I think that its just a myth. Me being a woman I sometimes wonder why women have so many questions when you are informed that you have being recognized?

Last 2 weeks it really made me to re think about the WIM Awards. Because this award is not just a personal achievement its for the nation. Its for our future generation. I have being travelling for the last few years to many neighboring countries as a Guest Speaker for Women in Businesses and I regretfully say this no other country has this forbear like Sri Lanka for Awards. Women are so competitive. They believe in themselves. They believe they deserve to be recognized. They believe they can be the nation’s mentors.

Therefore I humbly request, take this award and be a lady who can make more ladies like you. This Nation cannot be developed by being personal achievers for our selves and being secretive towards our success.

The Sri Lankan economy contribution by women is 35.9% from which more than 70% is from the informal sector. I personally believe this can only be increased by changing attitudes and introducing role models for each sector.

Most of my days are spent with rural women, for the last 11 years I have travelled to every corner of this country empowering women with my own developed methods. What I have found, more than empowering them we have made them dependable. Especially by politicians, some NGO’s and Finance Institutes. We need to make this system right.

Further we are personally against sending our women to the middle east. But have we encouraged a sustainable solution for them not to go? Not forgetting to thank Hon. Minister Thalatha Athkorala for the new law.

Its not the poverty that, women go as slaves. I met 11 girls from Batticalore District who has being working in the middle east. They have gone as housemaids between the age of 12 – 15 years. They are still children. (Making fake passoports) They are sold by their own family members. They are children of women headed households. 5 girls were able to mentor and today they were able to start their own small sewing business with 5 machines. This was assisted by few Award Winners by sharing their stories and mentoring them with business knowledge, market, self respect. Not financially at all. These young girls were lost they wanted to see and believe in a role model. This Award is all about this. Your award can inspire so many young, needed and talented women in this country.

I need to touch the workplace harresment issues in Sri Lanka. Because WIM receiving so many complaints by women with regards to workplace harresments. This is due to young marriage break downs and women positions in the workplace being given as a favour. The recent case we handled was a young married girl after working for 9 years got pregnant and she was asked to leave because her management does not want her to have a baby yet, in another 3 days she is delivering the baby, to date even the law protecting workmenship rights has not been able to assist her.

This starts from the day of the interview itself. Most of our young women are well educated compared to young men. They sit for the same exams and the same interviews. But preference goes to the male candidate at the interview. Because he does not have any commitment towards his personal life. It means he does not need to balance his home and office which only women need to be questioned. He does not need to take maternity leave even though he is a contributor but its womans job to deliver. Then the reasons we give as to why we have less women in top management or workplace is.

  1. She is a young Mother
  2. She is comfortable with her job
  3. She does not want to be promoted

Think, from the first day onwards who said she is the second best. We did. She was well talented but gender was not in her favour. She starts her journey with demotivation. She was crippled at the interview. Then we complain our women are not ready to take up leadership.

I would like to conclude my speech thanking a few people who helped me during my health issue to make this event a success.

Finally, my message Caliber perfection and being on top is not a competency or a talent, for us women to be role models. It is our humbleness and our attitude that takes us to the top where our name will be remembered not with a position we hold but with a respect we receive from the hearts of people.

Don’t try to compete with men for leadership. Because men are not born leaders we women are born leaders. Men are just following our instructions.

Thank you.