Sumika Perera (Sri Lanka)
As a poor child from a large family, Sumika witnessed the rich-poor gap among her classmates and began to write poems about it to newspapers and magazines. By the time she was out of school, Sumika was taking part in protest rallies in support of farmers, students and marginalized groups in their pursuit to rights and entitlements. Since then Sumika has taken on an activist life, throughout which she has spoken on behalf of victims of domestic abuse and conflict–affected women. “In 2005, I joined the Coalition for Assisting Tsunami. We provided self- employment and development assistance to tsunami and conflict-affected women. To date, women find themselves in situations where they are treated as second-class citizens. There’s so much that we need to do at policy, education and attitudinal levels to make positive changes in the lives of women.” Sumika believes that, without improving the lives of conflict-affected communities, Sri Lanka will not achieve sustained peace and inter-ethnic reconciliation.