Women Lawyers Welcomed the Honourable Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.PC

Honourable Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.PC
Honourable Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.PC on right

Speech made by Ms. Ridmika Dep, the President Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association(2010/2012) at the welcome Dinner which was held on 02/07/2012 at Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo. The Event was organized by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.
Ms. Ridmika Dep, the President Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association
Ms. Ridmika Dep addressing the gathering

"Your Ladyship, Hon. Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, You’re Lordships and Ladyships of the of Supreme Court and Court Of Appeal, Hon. Judges, Hon Acting Attorney General Ms. Eva Wanasundara President’s Counsel, President of the Bar Association Mr.Shibly Aziz President’s Counsel, President’s Counsels, Senior Counsels and My Dear Colleagues.

It is my great pleasure and privilege that I address you today on behalf of the Sri Lanka Women Lawyers’ Association.

Sri Lanka has two hundred years of judicial tradition. After such a long period we are gradually but confidently turning a new leaf, a new era for women in leadership. Your Ladyship’s appointment was taken without pomp and fanfare. But today we are gathered here to felicitate you with enormous pleasure on the great stride your have made. Your Ladyship, Justice Bandaranayake was one of the most illustrious products of the University of Colombo. Your Ladyship’s contribution to the progress and development of students of the law faculty is well known and is well appreciated by them. They value in particular the advice given and the assistance rendered as an Associate Professor of Law and the Dean of the Faculty of University of Colombo.

My lady, you have changed the Sri Lankan judicial history as far as women are concerned. In 1996 your ladyship was appointed as the first female Supreme Court Judge by Her Excellency the President Chandrika Badaranayake Kumarathunga. After fifteen years further confidence has been renewed in you, by His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointing you as the first Lady Chief Justice in Sri Lanka. My Lady, it seems Africa and Caribbean is ahead when it comes to women holding leadership positions in the legal field, especially Ghana, Sierra Leone and Jamaica.

In the west, President Ronald Reagan in 1981 appointed Sandra Day O’Connor as the first female judge of the Supreme Court of the United State of America. It was followed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, appointing Janet Reno as the first female Attorney General in the USA.

In the United Kingdom, Justice of the Supreme Court, the Right Hon. Baroness Hale of Richmond has the honor of having become the United Kingdom’s first women law Lord.

My lady, Sri Lanka is far ahead in comparison to other countries when coming to women holding important positions in many fields, especially legal and political. Our judicial system is enriched with eminent Lady Judges serving admirably at various levels as Her Ladyship Hon Justice Dr Shirani Bandaranayake herself, did during her career on the Bench. Justice Bandaranayake and other lady judges, as Her ladyship Hon Justice Shiranee Thilakawardena, Her Ladyship Chandra Ekanayake, Her Ladyship Rohini Marasinghe, Hon. High Court Judges Ms. Depalee Wijesundera, Ms. Kumuduni Wickramasinge and many more Lady High Court Judges, District Judges and Magistrates are no doubt examples for young Sri Lankan women to follow. For today’s women have better opportunities, lesser hurdles and loads of inspiration and many role models to emulate.

Sri Lanka’s women in leadership positions have broken the bastions of gender well ahead, making the path clear for women of today to follow suit into bigger and better areas. In the political context Sri Lanka holds the record of election of first Lady Prime Minister and Executive President as Her Excellency Sirimavo Bandaranayake and Her Excellency Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumaranathunga.

But it is very sad, that women still face violence clearly marked along gender lines, domestic violence, rape; and sexual assault. Having faced such trauma, women can take comfort in knowing that with so many women and men representing the judiciary, justice will be done. They can take comfort in knowing that stronger sentencing for acquits of such crimes will send a clear and powerful message that crimes against women are not acceptable in decent society where gender is blind, just like the lady who holds the scales of justice.

Finally, Your Ladyship the Chief Justice let me wish you the very best on behalf of everyone present here, especially the women. Let me also thank the Bar Association especially the President Mr. Shibly Aziz, President’s Counsel, on behalf of the Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association for giving us the privilege of making this address.

We wish you, your Ladyship, all the best and have a bright future. Thank you."


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