“I firmly believe that we should stand in solidarity to achieve diversity, inclusion, feminist movements and much more, rather than stepping away.”
I’m Kosalina Vignarajah and it brings me great joy to introduce myself as a young woman leader from YWCA of Sri Lanka.
Growing up, I have had to move from place to place for various reasons. One thing I have learned is that although culture and languages may differ, certain issues related to women are always the same and this is truly disheartening. My hope is that this knowledge does not stop here with me but that every girl, young woman and woman is inspired to advocate for what is right, and this can be achieved by strong calls to action and by uniting to work together to amplify the voices of youth.
My journey with YWCA began in 2015 as a girl who found safe accommodation for working women in one of the busiest cities in Sri Lanka. Since then, due to my passion and drive to help others, YWCA of Sri Lanka has given me several opportunities. I’ve been youth vice president, president, a board member, and vice president of the national youth group of the YWCA!
Since 2019, I have been involved in the Beijing +25 and in 2020 I became part of the Feminist Hub Beijing 25/GEF Generation Equality Forum and I was delighted to be invited by the World YWCA to be a delegate for CSW65 in April 2021. Thanks to the continuous support of YWCA of Sri Lanka under the leadership of Mrs. Wickramasinghe, I was able to participate!
World YWCA always encourages its youth to become a better version of themselves and this platform was a great opportunity for me to grow as a young woman. Attending for the first time, I was given more than enough resources and was able to network with other youth and be inspired by leaders.
I realised that youth face many problems including diplomatic use of language, gender and politics, gender diversity and inclusion, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and mental health, data and social media privacy issues. However, my personal favourite was ‘Imagining and building feminist futures after COVID-19.’ From signing the pledge initiated by World YWCA for the inclusion and safety of women and people of marginalised genders to listening to women passionately raising their voices from every part of the world, it was truly an inspiring and learning experience for me.
“I used my social media platforms to the fullest, to encourage immediate action to accelerate the work we do to achieve our collective goals.”
My heart goes out to youth who have been suffering from existing issues, further increased by the pandemic, in addition to national conflicts. I firmly believe that we should stand in solidarity to achieve diversity, inclusion, feminist movements and much more, rather than stepping away. During CSW65, I was provided with a platform to have rich conversations about how youth leaders in Sri Lanka are using digital platforms to advocate for the rights of women during the pandemic. This has encouraged my ongoing advocacy for the SRHR and mental health for Sri Lankan youth.
Today, we see many young people struggling to understand what is happening with their bodies, trying to make sense of physical and mental changes, being part of marginalised communities with pre-determined sets of rules and norms to grow up in, and hindered by the lack of resources to grow into the person whom they were meant to be. We can see how this affects young people mentally and how there is a lack of comprehensive education about these kinds of issues.
CSW65 indeed held up to its theme to ‘Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.’ I want to leave with a message of encouragement to all the Youth Leaders from Proverbs 31:25 “Strength and Honour are her clothing; And she shall rejoice in time to come.”