US honours Sri Lanka’s Marini de Livera for social justice leadership
Marini de Livera, pro bono lawyer and former chairperson of the National Child Protection Authority, received the International Women of Courage (IWOC) award for her phenomenal work in social justice and gender equality leadership, according to a press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
She joins nine other extraordinary women commended for courage and leadership from Bangladesh, Burma, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Montenegro, Peru, Tanzania, and Ireland.
De Livera won the prestigious IWOC award for her work as a tireless advocate for the rights of women and children victimised by crime, as well as promoting better options for children imprisoned in orphanages. A theatre graduate of Trinity College London, she uses visual arts and street theatre to promote legal literacy for women and children to learn about their human rights.
Speaking to NPR about the award, De Livera said, “This experience in the United States convinced me that, as a change-maker, I’m doing what the world and the people of the world are crying out for help for. I’m responding to them.”
De Livera is a member of the Steering Committee on the Rehabilitation of Child Soldiers, the National Committee on Women, and the Prisons’ Reforms Committee. She also chaired the committee that drafted amendments to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.
Hosting the award ceremony on March 7th, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called De Livera a “crusader against child exploitation”, and congratulated the award recipients as “outstanding leaders”, who embody the US’ commitment to empowering women and children across the globe. Secretary Pompeo also spoke about the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP), a White House initiative launched in February 2019, which aims to empower and uplift 50 million women in emerging nations by 2025. First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump, was the chief guest at the event and delivered special remarks.
The IWOC award, sponsored by the US Secretary of State, recognises women who have exhibited extraordinary leadership and courage in the advancement of women and girls. It was introduced in 2007 and since then, 120+ women from 65 countries have been honoured with the award.