Sunila Abeysekera was a formidable voice for human rights in Sri Lanka, Asia and internationally. Her work was based on principles of feminism and human rights, whether it was grassroots level activism or advocacy in regional and international fora. Sunila passed away in September 2013 after a long battle with cancer, and we at ARROW deeply mourn her loss.
Sunila’s contribution to human rights, especially women’s rights, is widely recognised. She received the UN Secretary General’s Award for Human Rights in 1998, was nominated for the One Thousand Women for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 and got the Human Rights Defender Award from Human Rights Watch in 2007.
Sunila was a member of ARROW’s Board of Directors from 2011 until she passed away. In 2012, Sunila co-authored an ARROW publication, Reclaiming and Redefining Rights— Guidance Series: Analysing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), with Amy Lynne Locklear.
Sunila’s unfailing spirit, commitment and numerous contributions to the women’s rights and human rights movement including ARROW, would be always remembered and valued by us. She will continue to inspire us. Farewell with much love and respect, Sunila!