Ms. Bernadeen Silva who was one of the founders of WERC, played a pivotal role in the women’s movement in Sri Lanka. She worked to empower individuals and to create an environment where everyone has equal opportunity. In light of Ms. Bernadeen Silva’s contribution to the civil society and in recognition of her commitment to issues such as peace, social justice and civil rights, we thought it would be ideal to initiate an award in her name as means of continuing her dream.
The Award will acknowledge and appreciate the valuable contribution of feminists to the betterment of society. There has been no Award specifically meant for Feminist Activists in Sri Lanka. This award is specifically meant for someone who has a feminist vision, who worked or is working for upholding principles of democracy, pluralism, ethnic harmony, inter religious harmony and someone who had worked to uplift the marginalized and underprivileged (caste, class, slum dwellers, women in prison, women with disabilities, sex workers, LGBT etc.).
The award ceremony for the year 2012 was held at the Social Scientists’ Association auditorium on March, 13th 2012. The selection was done by Prof. Yoga Rasanayagam, Ms. Mahes Vairamuttu and Ms. Dinali Fernando. The first award was given to Ms. Audri Rubeira in 2009. Her name was unanimously nominated by the women’s organisations and individuals. The Award for the year 2012 was given to Ms. Juwairiya Mohideen and Ms. Rajani Chandrasegaram. Both these ladies have battled against the odds and restriction of their faith and community based barriers.