Better Balanced world | Daily News

Better Balanced world

Panelists Ornella Gunesekere, Chinthi Weerasinghe, Linda Speldewinde, Sharika Senanayake, Shehara de Silva and Betty Miao.  Picture by Sulochana Gamage
Panelists Ornella Gunesekere, Chinthi Weerasinghe, Linda Speldewinde, Sharika Senanayake, Shehara de Silva and Betty Miao. Picture by Sulochana Gamage

Males and females are so similar in so many ways both negative and positive. There are those of us who value life and respect the rights of other human beings, and there are those who take pleasure in abusing others. There are those of us who are peaceful and those of us who are violent.

There are those of us who recognize the potential that we all have and those of us who look down on others out of jealousy and spite. Those of us who are successful and timid. One now needs to raise the question – If we are so similar in so many ways then why should we have a day specially dedicated to women?

Women’s Day should be celebrated because it serves as a reminder that together men and women overcome. Women should not be undervalued. Some women are strong and that is what we should focus on. It is time to join hands.

Daily News attended the Ladies VIP Night was held in partnership with HSBC to celebrate International Women’s Week 2019. Shangri-La Hotel partnered with Ladies VIP Night to an evening of unity, empowerment, and inspiration in keeping with the global theme of Balance for Better - Women to Unite, to Empower, Inspire and Help Make a Change for a Better Future. A panel discussion was held last week at Shangri-La under this theme and was attended by powerful women in their respective fields.

The panel consisted of Managing Director of AOD, Linda Speldewinde, Head of International Retail Banking and Wealth Management - Asia Pacific Betty Miao, Director Environmental Sustainability – MAS Holdings, Sharika Senanayake, Ornella Gunesekere who won the Miss Sri Lanka for Miss Universe 2018 crown and Chinthi Weerasinghe,

HSBC, with 52 percent of the global workforce being women, is committed to creating an environment where both men and women can fulfil their potential. Here diversity is valued and HSBC respect their clientele. CEO HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives, Mark Prothero pointed out that HSBC is enthusiastic about empowering women, which will create a future ushering in an age of prosperity.

“We are delighted to be the title sponsor for the event again this year so that we can support and encourage better balance. We continue to focus on the diversity profile of our workforce to make it more reflective of the communities that we operate in and the customers we serve. We hope the event will inspire more corporates and stakeholders in the community to create a better balance in support of women,” said Prothero.

The name Shangri-La means earthly paradise and what a wonderful venue to stage an event such as women empowerment. General Manager and Vice President of Shangri-La Hotel Timothy Wright, laid emphasis on the fact that if we are to be a progressive society we need the help of women. We need to use this large percentage of human beings to created change.

“While fostering gender equality and the empowerment of women in our work force, we are pleased to partner with an Event that continues to press for progress and play a pivotal role in society particularly in the participation of women and their contribution to the growth of an Economy,” said Wright.

Founder and Chairperson Design Corp, Linda Speldewinde needs no introduction, her creativity is renowned throughout Sri Lanka. If there is anything she believes in, she believes women can make a difference at any level, all you need is a positive attitude and determination.

“I think becoming a woman on a mission begins with the understanding that you have the power to change things and that you can create the reality you want. That is if you put your heart and work into it, then you can impact the future we are all working towards. This is what attracts me to ideas and initiatives where women of all ages are encouraged to take charge of change, to innovate and become catalysts to build the world we want. It's important to celebrate such ideas, make them accessible to women from diverse backgrounds, and support them to become positive change-agents in anything that they choose to do; it's a big part of getting our collective future right,” said Speldewinde.

Speldewinde called herself a ‘Girl Power Supporter’. She stressed that she believes in girls and women and what they have to offer. She is an entrepreneur and has been raised by two strong women – her mother and grandmother enabling her to shatter any glass ceiling.

“I built a group of companies from virtually nothing. I employed a huge percentage of women and girls. The entire success of my group of companies, is the girl power in my companies. I believe in unleashing the power of girls and women. We have achieved so many milestones. For me it is sharing knowledge with other girls. So it is all about personal leadership,” stated Speldewinde.

Director Environmental Sustainability – MAS Holdings, Sharika Senanayake, added that women can be catalysts and need to make themselves heard when it comes to decision making.

“I believe it’s only natural for women to care for their communities and their environment. But I also think it’s time women embraced working with other women as a driving force for change. If society can give a better voice and a place for these qualities and turn women into creators of impact, there will be drastic and positive outcomes for all. I think it’s also time we women became more earnest and aggressive in getting into these roles, said Senanayake.

Senanayake also commented that the power in the audience was indeed great, because it was filled with women who are committed to equality.

“Today what I want to talk about is the ecological balance and that is so important in making a difference. My team is a balanced team of men and women. I think this balance is why we have succeeded in our endeavors. Sri Lanka loses 8,000 hectares of forest, and my team have come out with solutions and this is, with the participation of women. I truly believe women and men together can help stop deforestation,” added Senanayake.

Head of International Retail Banking and Wealth Management - Asia Pacific, Betty Miao stated that the theme of the event is a really important subject for both men and women.

“We need to focus on the diversity profile of our work force. We must make sure it represents the community. There are a lot of expectations placed on us by our clientele. We have really been trying to create an environment that fosters development and make sure both women and men feel valued at HSBC. We want them to realize their potential. This is very important for the sustainable success of business as well as our contribution to the community,” said Miao.

She also stressed that HSBC has an inclusive hiring program. We have many training programs providing guidance to the managers. “We also look at being more flexible and providing opportunities for our people. We are keen when it comes to searching for the best talents when recruiting,” stated Miao.

Chinthi Weerasinghe, has built her career as a technologist with over 20 years of IT experience. She stated that women play a multiple roles -taking care of children, parents and husbands and then also playing a role as an employee in a company.

“You are resilient and you are strong because and you can balance. There are statistics to prove that a company’s revenue increases when there is female participation. There needs to be inclusion at leadership and board level when it comes to females and that really does make business sense,” said Weerasinghe.

Ornella Gunesekere She represented Sri Lanka at Miss Universe 2018 pageant and won “Miss Congeniality” out of 94 countries. She stated that today for her it is remembering what balance is about.

“Men! We want the same chances that you have politically and economically! Balance is not about fighting! We don’t want to be judged. We just want the same opportunities. At a very young age I was told that I could not live life a certain way, and I think that is a challenge that women face a lot. It is funny because we are not a minority and we are made to feel like that. Education is one of the best ways you can break that barrier. Women are good for the economy and invest in nutrition, hygiene and health care. After Jesus rose from the dead, the first person he appeared to was a woman. He knows how powerful women are,” explained Gunesekere.

Sumi Moonesinghe launched the No Kunu (No Garbage) initiative in May 2018 to educate all citizens to help transform the country into a cleaner and greener nation. She has joined hands with many corporates for this worthy Cause. Shehara de Silva who drives some of the communication and strategy of the Nokunu movement founded by Sumi Moonesinghe spoke on her behalf.

“We who work for Mrs. Moonesinghe share her dreams and beliefs. She wants to do something for her country and her people. When I look at the power in this room I want to say that this is not about some crazy women having a fantasy. This is a powerful movement that is creating an impact. What we are trying to do, is say that there should be some commitment on the part of the ladies when it comes to the environment. Try to keep your surroundings clean. If we can all do that it will make a significant difference in this country.

We need to think about the waste we generate. We need to be conscious and aware of what we are doing to the environment. You can even teach your servants who are otherwise ignorant. Take some time talking to people about cleanliness. Try to get organized and clean one street corner. I believe that you can make a significant difference. Pollution affects us all and creates health problems. One ripple at a time makes a difference. The power in this room is amazing, so please try and make a difference,” said De Silva.

Event Producer Latika Alok stated that women need to unite and not fight each other in the name of competition. There needs to be a bond and a concern for mutual welfare. Women have so much to offer to the world and should not restrict themselves and merely fade away.

“At Ladies VIP Night, we are all about bringing women together to support and inspire each other’s achievements as well as to continue to create awareness for Gender Equality. It is important for organizations to recognize female talent in their workforce and their contribution to Society. Our Events aim to do this through an evening of Connection, Collaboration and Celebration. We are pleased to be supporting Give2Lanka and their project to supply permanent clean water connections to families. We believe no woman in this day and age should have to struggle to carry water in buckets every day for their family,” said Alok.

The night was held in the name of a new dawn. The event was held for a good cause and that was to provide Clean Drinking Water for Communities in the Eastern Region of Sri Lanka. Ladies VIP Night is always concerned about the under privileged in society. Ladies VIP Night worked with Give2Lanka, where a proportion of the ticket value was given to this charity.

The project donation, will focus on areas like Thurukkovil, Vinnayagapurum and Thambiluvil, where the majority of families are Samurdi families.


 

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