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POSTED AT 11:12 AM 08-03-2019

CA Sri Lanka’s Women Empowerment & Leadership Development Forum urges female Chartered Accountants to be visible

Alternate Chairperson Anoji De Silva lighting the candle of CA Sri Lanka President Jagath Perera to ceremoniously launch the forum, while Vice President Manil Jayesinghe, Members of Council Heshana Kuruppu, Sanjaya Bandara and Committee Chairperson  Aruni Rajakarier looks on.

A section of the audience comprising the female Chartered Accountants of CA Sri Lanka

Female members of CA Sri Lanka at the Women Empowerment and Leadership Development forum

The CA Sri Lanka Women Empowerment and Leadership Development Committee – 

Front row from left: Thamali  Rodrigo, Portia Jayamaha, Aruni Rajakarier (Chairperson), Anoji De Silva (Alternate Chairperson), Chamila Cooray, Maryam Marikkar, Subashini Munasinghe, Pyumi  Sumanasekara

Back row from left: Jani Ganeshan, Pranadhi Fernando, Fathima Shihara Jameel, Sambavi Kanagasabapathy, Nishani Perera, Vindya Cooray

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka) recently launched the Women Empowerment & Leadership Development Forum to encourage female CA’s to step in to leadership roles and support their career progression.  

The forum which attracted a full house of women Chartered Accountants, kicked off under the theme of “Be visible, it’s a career not a job” at the Institute recently.   

Speaking at the event, CA Sri Lanka President Jagath Perera pointed out that even though the Institute’s membership comprised of 32% females, not all were employed. “We need to make sure that there is a mechanism to absorb them back to the workforce. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a nine to five job, but there are options,” he said.  “We need to bring them back, so that they will be actively and directly involved in the development of the country,” he added.  

Alternate Chairperson of the Women Empowerment and Leadership Development Committee Anoji De Silva disclosed that even though 52.6% of the country’s population comprises females, the labour force participation is only 36%, making Sri Lanka one of the countries in the world with the lowest female workforces. “If we want a productive and developed country for our children, we must increase the female working population in Sri Lanka,” she said.  

Sharing an interesting observation, De Silva noted that the higher the education, the higher the active participation of women in the workforce. According to her, 80% of women with higher education enjoy a more productive career. She urged the Council of CA Sri Lanka therefore to look at this aspect, in an effort to ensure a more active female workforce. 

“I believe we are the most fortunate professional services sector in the country due to the diverse skills we have received. This does not train us for a job but teaches us to have a productive career whether we are at office or home. We are diverse in knowledge and we know to budget, time manage, write reports, present ourselves and talk to people, and this is all due to the training we have received,” she said. 

Speaking further, the Alternate Chairperson also said that a career is very personal and it can change based on the circumstances. “If there is a time you have to take time off, then you can do that and when you’re available once again, you can return to the productive workforce,” she said. 

She highlighted that all CA Sri Lanka members including females were trained to have a career and not just a job. De Silva also urged the audience to spread this word among the other members as well as aspiring female CAs. “You must remind them that they are not training for a job, which is very restricted unlike a career which is far more productive,” she added. 

The Chairperson of the Women Empowerment and Leadership Development Committee Aruni Rajakarier shared her views on how the CA qualification was always the rock in her life and has helped her progress in her career as a financial professional who has also gone on to establish her very own consulting firm. “CA was my only professional qualification and it was the rock that I stood on, and it is a qualification that can take you anywhere,” she said. 

Rajakarier said that due to her active participation in various committees at the institute, it had also helped her gain confidence to go and speak at various forums which she had not even dreamed of in her early years. 

The Women Empowerment and Leadership Development Committee will primarily focus on four initiatives namely; capacity building and enhancing visibility of female members and students; developing a Board-Ready Women’s Directory consisting of senior CA female members who hold senior executive positions and are Board-ready; developing a gender parity frame; and obtaining the support of senior female members to mentor young females chartered accountants.  

Speaking at the forum, committee member Thamali Rodrigo disclosed that as per statistics, less than 2% CA Sri Lanka female members serve in board positions. Therefore, she noted that the directory will be an important initiative as it will provide visibility to the female members of CA Sri Lanka and will help them enjoy enhanced professional success at a board level.

The participants who attended the Women Empowerment and Leadership Development Forum also involved themselves in an activity where several work-related scenarios were deliberated using fictional female characters which gave the participants an opportunity to draw on their personal experiences and come up with strategies to keep the women engaged in a productive career.