our history

Founder of SLWLA

Late Ms. Ezlynn Deraniyagala - 1960 – 1961

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association - Founder of SLWLA - Ms. Ezlynn Deraniyagala One of the illustrious lady Lawyers that dazzled our Legal Profession during the Forties to the Sixties was Ezlynn Isabel Amelie Deraniyagala, MA, Barrister-at-Law, Inner Temple and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Ceylon.

She was the first President of the Ceylon Women Lawyers’ Association in 1960-1961 and again in 1966 - 1967. She was also the Vice President of the Association in 1967-1968.

Apart from her immeasurable contributions to law and other allied fields in Sri Lanka, her gracious voluntary work extended to food relief work during World War 11 and later for the prevention of Tuberculosis. In public service, she served as an adviser to the Nurses Advisory Board of the Medical Council and Colombo Y.W.C.A. She was a Member of the Ceylon delegation to the United Nations general Assembly in 1962 and 1964.

She also accepted many International challenges and participated in several UN conferences in Bangkok and Tokyo. She became the Vice President of the International Alliance of Women from 1952 – 1955, Later from 1959 – 1964 she became its President and presided on its 19th Congress in Ireland in 1961 and its 20th congress in Italy in 1964. In 1964 she was appointed an Honorary President of the International Alliance of Women. She was a Co Director when the International Alliance of Women held its congress in Colombo in 1955, this being the first time an International Congress of women was held in Ceylon.

Past Presidents

Ms. Lawrence Berney Alwis - 2014 - 2016

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association - Ms. Lawrence Berney Alwis Mrs. Lawrence Berney Alwis was a Past President of SLWLA for the years 2015/2016 appointed as the President at the 52nd Annual General Meeting.

Mrs. Alwis joined the SLWLA as a life member and worked as a Committee member, after that she was appointed as Co-Vice President of the Association and was involved in many activities in the SLWLA under various Past Presidents.

Presently she represents SLWLA as a Senior Advisor.

Mrs. Alwis had her early education at Horana "Maputugala Maha Vidyalaya" and "Sripali Vidyalaya" and thereafter she has completed Bachelor of Arts Degree in the University of Peradeniya.

Thereafter she entered the University of Colombo and completed Bachelor of Law Degree (L.L.B) and entered Sri Lanka Law College and took oaths in 1978.

Mrs. Alwis hadundergone apprenticeship in respect of Criminal Law with Mr. Eardly Perera PC and Dunstan de Alwis PC, and thereafter she had started her own practice in High Court, Magistrate Court, Disctrict Court in Gampaha.

She was the President of Gampaha bar in 2003 and qualified as Justice of Peace & unofficial Magistrate and also she has 25 years service as an Acting Magistrate.

She was the Pesident of Mahara Bar Association for the year 2011-2012.

Mrs.Alwis was the President of Lion’s Club of Ragama, Welisara in 2012/2013 and served as a Cabinet Officer in Lion's Club of 306 B2.

she is the District Legal secretary in United National Party to Gampaha District and Vice president of National Lawyers' Association in Gampaha distrct.

She servedas an Exco Member in the Bar Association of Sri Lanka for 2 years and had served as a Zonal Vice President for Gampaha District also.

She is presently working as one of the Directors of Land Reform Commission.

Ms. Yamuna Gunasekara - 2012 – 2014

Ms. Ridmika Dep - 2010 – 2012

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association - Ms. Ridmika Dep Ms. Wewage Thusitha Ridmika Dep, Attorney-at-Law, has served as the president of the Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association, from October 2010 to November 2012.

She has represented Sri Lanka, in the Asian Regional Convention which was held in Cebu, Philippine in the year 2012 and European Regional Convention which was held in London, UK in the year 2013 and 35th General Convention which was held in Bangalore, India in the year 2014, as the Country Vice President of FIDA (Federation International for Women Lawyers) for Sri Lanka. At the General Convention, she has been appointed as the Regional Vice President - of FIDA Asia. Ms. Dep is the youngest President of the SLWLA and a successor to Ms Chathurika Wijesinghe, the past president.

Ms. Dep joined the SLWLA as a life member in 1997 and worked as a Committee member, Assistant Treasurer, Treasurer, Assistant Secretary, Secretary and Vice President and organized and was involved in many activities in the SLWLA, under various Past Presidents. During her presidency, various benevolent projects were conducted by the committee of Sri Lanka Women Lawyers Association, for the society and for the member's welfare activities, such as the legal awareness programs especially for the rural areas, (Lunugamvehera and Jaffna), represented women's rights in the society, conducted a Project for women prisoners at Welikada Prison, donated bed linen and curtains to the Bandaranayake Ward of the Colombo General Hospital, conducted welfare activities for the members such as the Christmas and Avurudu Pola, foreign trip to Europe covering seven countries, local trips to Jaffna and Kithulgala and a Seminar on "Financial Business Act" with the collaboration of "ANC".

The official web-site of the Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association www.slwla.org was an idea of Ms. Dep and she has done all the needful to launch the web-site at the 50th Annual General Meeting which was held on 25th November 2012, by the First Lady, Mrs. Shiranthi Wickramasinghe Rajapaksa, was the Chief Guest.

Ms. Dep had her early education at De Mazenod College, Kandana and thereafter entered to the Sri Lanka Law College in 1992 and took Oaths in 1995 as an Attorney-at-Law. She had obtained the LLB degree from the Open University of Sri Lanka in 2004. She also obtained the Post Attorney Diploma in Banking Law and Insurance Law which was conducted by the Sri Lanka Law College and was awarded as the best student in the batch in 2008 along with a merit pass and a certificate for the highest marks for the subject of Insurance. She had obtained the Master's Degree (LLM) from the University of Colombo in 2013.

Ms. Dep, has been awarded for her exceptional contribution & achievements in the field of Legal, the Gold Category Award of Genre of excellence Professional & Career Women Awards 2013/2014, which was held on 25th day of July 2014, at Hotel Taj Samudra, and was conducted by Women in Management (WIM).

At Present, she works as the Manager Legal Recoveries at Hatton National Bank PLC.

Ms. Chathurika Wijesinghe – President - 2008 - 2010

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association - Ms. Chathurika Wijesinghe Ms. Chathurika Wijesinghe is the immediate past president of the SLWLA and served as the President from October 2008 to 2010. She was the Vice President for 14 years under eight past Presidents until she was appointed as President in 2008.

She has actively participated in many projects which were done by the SLWLA during her period, such as a Seminar organized on domestic violence in which the Chief Guest was Her Ladyship Ms. Shiranee Thilakawardena, traditional X,mas and Avurudu Pola, in December 2008 and March 2009 respectively to raise funds to cover the expenses for the office rent and for the salary of the Office Assistant, a local four day trip to Nuwara Eliya in April 2009 as a welfare activity for our members undertaken for the first time in the history of SLWLA and also the first ever train trip. A foreign trip to Egypt was a memorable event for our members. During Ms. Wijesinghe’s presidency, His Excellency the President, Mr Mahinda Rajapaksha granted a block of land to SLWLA, at Mihindu Mawatha, Colombo 12 for the purpose of building its Office.

His Excellency the President, Mr Mahinda Rajapaksha appointed Ms. Wijesinghe, as a member of the delegation to China for the Conference of Professional Women. In that delegation,with First Lady, Honourable Ms. Shiranthi Rajapaksha, Ms. Wijesinghe represented the legal profession.

Ms. Wijesinghe is the Managing Partner of M/s Wijesinghe Associates and wife of Late Mr Bandula Wijesinghe, former Secretary of the Sri Lanka Bar Association. She is a past student of Visaka Vidyalaya.

Ms. Surangani Joseph - 2006 – 2008

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association - Ms. Surangani Joseph

Hon. Justice Kumudini Wickremasinghe - 2005 – 2006

Ms. Seetha Wijewardane - 2003 – 2005

Ms. Chinthamani Moonemalle Balalle - President - 2001 – 2003

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association - Ms. Chinthamani Balalle She was born in Kebitigollewa on 14th April 1938 to School Teacher Parents. Second in a family of 5. Was educated at the Holy Family Convent Kurunegala, Maliyadewa Balika Viddhyalaya, Kurunegala and Holy Cross Convent, Gampaha. She took up Teaching at Holy Cross Convent & joined Government School Bamunakotuwa Maha Viddhyalaya. Was involved in Social work as an active Member of Womens’ Organizations, Mahila Samithi, SLFP Womens’ Organisation, Housewives Association, Rotary Club, Inner Wheel Club, SLWL Association, Buddhist Womens’ Organizations, Lama Nivasa and worked for the well being of women & children.

She joined Law College in 1962 and was enrolled in 1967. She worked in the Free Legal Association appearing free of charges for women & children in 500 cases in NWP and was awarded by the Chairman of the Association, the then CJ, Hon Sarath N. Silva. Only 6 recipients from Sri Lanka and she was the one out of 2 Lady Lawyers, the other, from Jaffna.

She married Tissa R Balalle, Governor NWP, an Attorney at Law who has completed 50 years in active practice. She has completed 45 years in active practice. They have two children, Thusitha employed at Standard Charted Bank as Senior Audit Manager Dubai, and a Daughter who is a Solicitor in Queeensland. She has 2 Grandchildren

During my Presidency at the SLWL Association, Seetha who was the Secretary was an asset, and joined with me to launch the Maruti Car Project. We visited almost all the Bar Associations to organize the women lawyers’ membership drive including Kandy, Kuliyapitiya, Gampaha, Anuradhapura, Negombo, Kegalle, Kurunegala, Matara, and Galle which was successful even though there were few Lay Lawyers at that time. We also distributed books in rural areas in the NWP. SLWL Trips & Get Togethers were organized. A X’Mas Party for the childrens’ home at Kurunegala was organized and also a Flood relief campaign. Awareness programs especially for women in Maintenance, Divorce, cruelty to women and child abuse in rural areas were conducted. Donations were made to deformed childrens homes. We also birthed the 1st SLWL Branch at Kurunegala.

Ms. Padma De Silva - Past President - 1999 - 2001

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association - Ms. Padma De Silva Ms. Padma de Silva took oaths in 1974 and is presently practising in the District Courts of Balapitiya and Elpitiya.

She became a life member of the SLWLA in 1974.

She was a Delegate of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka in 1975 and was the President of the Balapitiya Bar Association.

During her tenure of office, a considerable number of lady lawyers was enrolled as members of the SLWLA. The register containing the membership was also updated.

During 1999 – 2001, several meetings were held with the then Chief Justice, Mr.Sarath N Silva PC regarding space for office premises for the SL WLA.

Also during this period the then C.J., Mr. Sarath N. Silva PC, requested all lady lawyers to wear the cloak in the Magistrate Courts and District Courts since there were lots of complaints from lady lawyers stating that they were mistaken for litigants and clerical staff of the Courts. Hon. District Judges and Magistrates were informed about this request.

An Annual trip was organized and family members of the membership participated. A Seminar was held in Kurunegala. Several Judges and Lawyers participated and it was organized by Ms. Chintha Balalla, Senior lady lawyer from the Kurunagala Bar.

Ms. Indira Samarasinghe (PC) - 1997 – 1999

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association - Ms. Indira Samarasinghe

Ms. Pushpa Nanayakkara - 1995 – 1997

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association - Ms. Pushpa Nanayakkara She has conducted Six Seminars on Legal Litresy and Rape. Sponsored by N.O.R.A.D. 1st Seminar was held in Hambantota and the Chief Guests were Ms.Shirani Thilakawardena Justice of the Supreme Court and Mr. Chandradasa Nanayakkara.

Thereafter another five Seminars were held in the Hambantota District.

Ms. Sumedha Jayaweera Bandara - 1993 – 1995

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association - Ms. Sumedha Jayaweera Bandara She organized a coffee evening.
She conducted TV and radio programs to create legal awareness among women of their rights. A Radio program called, "Nithiyai Obai" was launched to answer various questions posed to us by women.

A Legal Aid Program to assist women to get free services in maintenance and divorce cases was also conducted.

The Prison project was continued by visiting the Colombo prison.
The Legal literacy program was continued with the help of CIDA and Asia Foundation.

Late Ms. Pearl Korale - 1991 – 1992

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association - Ms. Pearl Korale She dedicated her time for the benefit of the Association.

She started English classes at Ginthota, (Galle District), Negombo and Dehiwela for the benefit of the poor children. This project was funded by CIDA.

We visited Negombo Prison and Bogambara Prison and donated a TV to Bogambara for the benefit of the women.

A Coffee Morning was organised to raise funds.
A legal literacy project was funded by Asia Foundation. Books were printed and distributed among poor women to educate them on their legal rights. Advice was provided and court appearances were undertaken for women in need of legal help.

Self employment among women was started by giving them raw material like cane for weaving table mats etc.

She died during her tenure in office.

Ms. Mala Sabarathnam

Ms. Moureen Seneviratne (PC) - 1988 – 1990

Ms. Manouri Muttetuwegama

Ms. Padma Attanayake

Ms. Rita Caderamanpulle - 1984 - 1985

Late Ms. Leena Fernando

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association - Ms. Leena Fernando Ms. Leena Charlotte Fernando was born on 18th October 1916 in Kandy. She was sworn in May 1940 as a Proctor of the Supreme Court of Ceylon - one of the first two women to pass out as Proctors. In the annals of legal history in Sri Lanka, in an otherwise male-dominated profession, she was the first female Senior Partner of the prestigious legal firm, Messrs. Julius & Creasy, Attorneys-at-Law (established in 1900).

She was the first woman to achieve 50 years at the Sri Lankan Bar; to serve on the Executive Committee of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka; to be awarded the honour of Life Membership (Honoris Causa) of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka and Chairperson of the Colombo Law Society. She was also the first woman on the Executive Council and Vice President of the Organization of Professionals Association of Sri Lanka.

She was the holder of the National Honour of Deshabandu.

Late Ms. Sriyani Nonis

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association - Ms. Sriyani Nonis The late Ms. Sriyani Nonis served as President of the Sri Lanka Women Lawyers’ Association during the 1980’s. Having qualified as a Barrister-at-Law from the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn in 1962, she interned with Justice John Baker Q.C. and worked thereafter in the Chambers of D.Foot Q.C., and appeared in the Privy Council as a junior to E.F.N.Graeggtian Q.C. She was enrolled as an Attorney-at-Law in 1970.

Ms. Nonis made an invaluable contribution towards recognizing the role of women in society through her involvement in the Sri Lanka Women Lawyers’ Association during its first 25 years. She was engaged in projects ranging from the Legal Literacy Programme, uplifting the lives of women prisoners and conducting public seminars on a plethora of subjects such as the impact of corporate law on socio-economic development, labour laws and the rights of women and children.

Ms. Nonis entered the corporate world at a young age of 22 and was involved with the Mackwoods Group of Companies from the early 1960’s in her capacity as Director, Deputy Chairperson and Chairperson until her demise in 2005. She was the only female in Sri Lanka to hold the position of Chairperson of a plantation company – Agalawatte Plantations Limited. She had the virtues of compassion and kindness and her passion was to espouse the cause of those in need. Through her involvement in the corporate sector as well as organizations such as Zonta Club 1, Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce and of course as President of the Sri Lanka Women Lawyers’ Association, Ms. Nonis had the distinction of being amongst a handful of female professional leaders who was instrumental in drawing attention to the need to empower women in our society.

Ms. Muriel de Soyza Gunawardane

Ms. Lalitha Sumanasekera

Memories of Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association
At the opening ceramony of the office premisess at Hulftsdorp, Colombo 12

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association
Ms. Pearl Korale at a function

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association
Ms. Hema Pramadasa visiting a function at SLWLA

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association
Ms. Shriyani Nonis handing over the gift to the Fisheries Minister Festus Perera

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association
Ms. Sirimavo Bandaranayaka meets with SLWLA

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association
Late Mr. Radha Kusnan, President of India meeting the Sri Lankan Women Lawyers

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association
President of India meeting the Women Laywers

Recent Events

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association
Seminar on "Sexual Harassment of women in Sri Lanka"

SLWLA organized a seminar on "Sexual Harassment of women in Sri Lanka" on the 26th of September... Read More

~ 25th May, 2020

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association
Webinar on "Challenges faced by women during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic"

Zoom Webinar organised by Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association on... Read More

~ 25th May, 2020

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association
57th Annual General Meeting

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers'Association held its 57th Annual General Meeting on 1st December 2019 at Sapphire Hall Marino... Read More

~ 1st December 2019

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association
Jaffna | Excursions

Sincere thanks to Commander Security Force, Jaffna, Major Darshana Hettiarachchi, General Staff-Security Force Headquarters... Read More

~ 6th March, 2019

Sri Lanka Women Lawyers' Association
Legal Aid Clinic organized by Sri Lanka Women Lawyers’ Association

In celebrating International Women’s Day which fell on the 8th of March, SLWLA... Read More

~ 29th March, 2018