Changing Sri Lanka, With Women In Politics – Lihini Fernando, Politician and Head of Velox Partners

The inspiring Lihini Fernando, surprisingly does not come from a political family, neither does she have political wealth to sustain her being, however it did not stop her from pursuing her passion for the change she yearned to see in the world.

“From school days, I have always been an individual that has been vocal about injustice, discrimination in society and the injustice caused to women and children.” With this deep desire she is currently a renowned empathetic and passionate politician handling enormous responsibilities and a lawyer who is heading her own legal firm named Velox Partners with a few other lawyers, as well as an achiever at the 2021 Women in Management Awards (WIM), in which she was awarded The Inspirational Woman of the Year award, under the women in governance category, emerging woman politician. In addition to her great profession and achievement she works in her family business related to Advertising and Furniture and is a loving wife and a mother as well as, and undoubtedly an empowerer and a great motivator for women.

“I try to play multiple roles in life, being a politician, lawyer, wife and mother. Certainly it is not easy, but I believe women have the capability to stretch themselves above and beyond if they set their mind to a task.” 

In further discussion, the zealous motivator spoke on what inspired her to become a Politician, “I entered into politics purely because of my passion for it and the passion for change. Mahatma Gandhi once said ‘Be the change, you wish to see in this world’. Hence it is with that intention that I entered into politics.

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“Whilst doing all the politics has now been a quo in my life. Working with people at grassroot levels, working towards social causes, working towards uplifting the lives of the people is indeed rewarding.”

Explaining how her legal knowledge can help her as a politician and what her empowerment plans are for women, she stated, “Only honest, committed, educated and capable people can change the political landscape from this abyss. The quota system for women initially should continue, even at provincial and parliamentary level, simply to increase the representation of women in politics and to encourage more and more women to take the centre stage in politics. However, after a certain period, the quota system can be removed, because women once elected will perform their duties in a manner that they will automatically be elected thereafter.” 

She went on to say that society has the responsibility of accepting and promoting women in politics and to educate women on the need to support women who are ambitious to enter politics in order to “create a tangible change in the political culture of Sri Lanka.”

According to Lihini, the main reason she firmly believes that women should represent politics is because it is illogical in this modern world for men to hold a monopoly in holding key political decision while more than half of the population consists of women (52% of the population).

“Specifically in Sri Lanka’s post-2009 context, the brunt of the 30-year ethnic conflict is borne by women who lost their children or husbands, across the ethnic divide, suffering debilitating loss – whether it is psychological or economic.

“The political corruption, wastage, apathy and mismanagement that hits the masses are suffered directly by women who have to manage the household finances to dish out three square meals a day, however meagre the household income is. Capitalising on this inherent management skill of women and capability as nurturers of families, there is the need to build up females for political leadership in order to foster and inculcate a capable and empathetic governance.”

Expressing her opinion on the importance of selecting the right legal firm by an organisation, the professional who has already conquered the glass ceiling and a Lawyer who works strong in the Corporate sector and additionally managing politics, stated, “I, as a Lawyer, believe in principles of integrity and professionalism and a legal firm should be able to provide a client a holistic legal solution where you analyse the problem from both the legal as well as business angle.”

Moreover, Lihini’s vision for a corporate young female is for her to realise her true potential and free herself from the traditional roles and stand for a bigger cause.

“Women are the live wire, the decision maker, the strength of every family, and hence they have the potential to be a decisive factor in decision making, be it politics or the Corporate sector. Never underestimate the capability of a woman. If she is put in the right place, she will definitely move mountains.”

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