Category Archives: Women with Disabilities

Disability organisations’ joint front celebrateD international women’s day with women with disabilities

Disability organisations’ joint front celebrateD international women’s day with women with disabilities


The Disability Organisations’ Joint Front celebrated the International Women’s Day with women with disabilities in all corners of Sri Lanka at the YWCA hall. Delegates from DHR Organisation in Sweden, women with disabilities, Government officials representing the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Ministry of Social Services and other relevant authorities participated at this workshop. The resource persons were Dr. Ms. SepaliKottegoda from University of Colombo, Director of Department of Cultural Affairs, Ms. AnushaGokula Fernando and Ms. ManiqueGunaratne. At the end of the programme with the ideas of all women with disabilities who participated, a declaration was drafted and was handed over to the Minister of Women Affairs at the National Women’s Day celebrations held in Ampara.


Picture descriptions:

1 Manique as resource person.manique as resource person

2 Manique making presentation.manique making presentation

3 Manique with Sweeden delegates.manique with sweeden delegates

4 Participants.participants




Leadership Training and the South Asia Conference on the role of Women with Disabilities in Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals

Leadership Training and the South Asia Conference on the role of Women with Disabilities in Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals

Women Parliamentary Caucus (WPC) of Pakistan invited Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The employers’ Federation of Ceylon Network on Disability, to attend the Leadership Training and the South Asia Conference on the role of Women with Disabilities in Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in January 2016 in Pakistan. The event was held at Hotel Magala in Islamabad, Pakistan.
The Leadership Training and the South Asia Conference on the role of Women with Disabilities in Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals under the South Asian Disability Forum (SADF)’s project South Asia Disability and Development Initiative (SADDI) was organized in collaboration with Women Parliamentary Caucus (WPC), British Council Pakistan, CBM, Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP), Women Refugee Commission (WRC), Aurat Foundation (AF), National Forum of Women with Disabilities (NFWWD). The Leadership Training aimed to empower Women with Disabilities and build their capacities as Leaders and to strengthen our work regionally and nationally for inclusive Development.
Women with disabilities from Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Korea and Pakistan participated at this programme.
On the final day there was a conference with representatives of parliamentarians, high level government officials, media, representatives from the organisations of persons with disabilities and NGO’s.
Ms. Manique Gunaratne was interviewed by several media channels.

Picture descriptions:
1 Manique addressing the conference.

addressing the gathering
2 Manique at the workshop with banner
3 group photograph at the closing ceremony of the conference.conference closing group
4 Participants at the conference.Participants at the conference
5 Group photograph of the opening ceremony of the photo opening
6 Panel discussion at the conference.conference panel
7 group photograph of the workshop participants with the certificates.

group photo certificates
8 Group photograph of the opening ceremony of the photo opening
9 Manique with the certificate.manique holding the certificate
10 manique receiving the certificate.receiving the certificate
11 Day 1 of the workshop.workshop day 1 (1)
12 Group of participants at Day 3 of the workshop.workshop day 3 group more clear
13 Manique at Day 3 of the workshop.workshop day 3 manique
14 Day 3 of the workshop.workshop day 3
15 Day 2 of the workshop.workshop group day 2

Manique Gunaratne
National Campaigner for Rights of Women with Disabilities – Raising Our Voices for Us


The Zonta woman of achievement awards ceremony is the flagship event of Colombo held every biennium since 1985. Zonta Club is committed to recognize and reward women who have achieved outstanding success in their respective fields and contributed towards national development. Zonta Club informed that they received nominations from across a wide range of disciplines and all regions of Sri Lanka. An independent panel of eminent judges selected the winners. The Zonta woman achiever of 2014 awards ceremony was held at Hotel Galadari. Attorney General, Mr. Palitha Fernando was the Chief Guest at this ceremony. In May 2014 Ms. Manique Gunaratne received the “Zonta Woman of Achievement 2014 award” in the field of disability.

zonta awards 2014



One of the most unpleasant things about being a person with a disability has to deal with negative attitudes around you.

And it’s sad, but true, that it’s not uncommon that the people who look down at you because you are in a wheelchair or use a white cane to get around,

Are the very people who are supposed to help you and look after your interests?

Hospitals – especially government outfits – are, unfortunately, one of them.

People with disabilities are very much interested in trying to find out about their latest medical results.

They toss and turn in their beds with worry.

The first thing they unexpectedly receive is “greeted by” a rather plump, sour-faced, rude and grumpy face.

But what we do not like is being forced as a person with a disability is to take on the personal problems of the others.

Sometimes most places turn out to be places where more is done to ruin the “feel good factor” for you than to help you.

I have personal experience of numerous accounts from my friends with disabilities of horrible encounters with people with non-disabilities when they have to turn to them for help.

These include the frontline, the desk staff, higher-up officers and professional counselors in the society.

People with disabilities are treated with little respect and sometimes, no respect at all.

They can’t get assistance from the car park; no one is there to help those open heavy doors (which shouldn’t be there) in the department’s office.

Few would offer them a smile. Waiting to be attended to can take forever. Asking more than a couple of questions would be frowned upon.

Many of them are spoken to condescendingly, whilst others are literally not spoken to at all!

Some people turn their attention to their able-bodied helpers instead, assuming the real clients are unable to speak – or have little intelligence to


I myself have come across frontline staff that was very impersonal with me, with their officious and detached tones.

Sometimes people dealing with us are so impersonal and snobbish that I was made to feel as if I should be “grateful” that they were even trying to help

Me in the first place.

As a trained person with a disability I, having served for over 15 years of well-known service in the disability field nationally and internationally, making a person feel

This way is the worst thing you can do to someone’s psyche when they come to you for assistance.

The question which really needs to be asked here is how well and properly trained people in the society are to help persons with disabilities.

Does each and every one of these able-bodied workers even realise that it is because of their clients that they have their jobs in the first place?

The good news, however, is all this now appears to be changing.

But whether this is happening only just in the urban the rural remains to be seen.

Several people with disabilities whom I have spoken to told me that now some people are more polite and genuinely caring towards them.

Many of us think these changes are coming about because of the advocacy and lobbying done in the disability field.

Department of Social Services organizes a social dialogue to discuss several areas of disability every month. This is a platform where persons with disabilities and persons with non-disabilities can take part to make justice for all. In March Ms. Manique Gunaratne did a presentation on “Enhancing ethics and etiquettes to promote social justice for children with special needs” at the Department of Social Services.

enhancing ethics and etiquettes at department of social services


The month of March is a significant month for women as we celebrate the International Women’s Day. It is not only just for women but women with disabilities around the world celebrate the International Women’s Day. This year in order to bring inclusion to the society most Women’s Day celebrations were done together with women with disabilities and women with not yet with disabilities. The World Vision Lanka organized the International Women’s Day celebration at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute. This year’s theme was “Calling for Greater Equality – Make it Happen”. 

The Key Note Address was by Prof Maithree Wickramasinghe on Importance of Gender   Mainstreaming in Organizations and Humanitarian field. The other speakers were Ms. Manique Guneratne from The employers’ Federation of Ceylon on How to include women with disability to mainstream development, Ms. Cyrene Siriwardhana – Significant legal lessons learnt of tackling violence against Women and Rev Lionel Peris – Religious perspective (all faiths) of empowering women.

World Vision Lanka launched the “Men Care” manual at this occasion. The men care programme implemented by World Vision Lanka is a great support for women in Sri Lanka especially women in the plantation sector.

The street drama on “Domestic violence” had a very great impact on the society. It clearly indicated the causes of domestic violence and who are responsible for it and how you could reduce domestic violence.

World Vision Lanka donated a laptop to The E.F.C. I.C.T. Training Centre for the benefit of all women with disabilities.

The Sunday Island newspaper published an article. Please read the article on:



world vision women's day pannel


In March 2015 the vision impaired women celebrated the International Women’s Day at The Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped. It was a day filled with laughter, fun and excitement for vision impaired women. There were competitions for singing, poetry and essays. The guest speakers were Ms. Sandhya Kodduruarachchi, The Principal of School for the Blind in Ratmalana, Ms. Sulochana Sigera, Chair Person Women in Management and Ms. Manique Gunaratne. Vision impaired ladies from The E.F.C. I.C.T. Training Centre participated at this event and won many competitions and received gifts from the Chief Guest. Empowering women with disabilities is very important to make them independent. Most vision impaired women are marginalized due to lack of education, vocational training and employment opportunities. The society must realize that vision impaired women are precious and all mankind should be educated towards women with disabilities.




The “Women in Management Genre of Excellence Professional and Career Women Awards” was held on 25 July 2014 at Hotel Taj. The Professional & Career Women Awards, which is an integral part of the Sri Lankan business calendar for the fourth consecutive year, celebrating the achievements of some truly remarkable women in the country. The awards recognize the achievements of women for their professional or entrepreneurial milestones and to those demonstrating outstanding leadership and managerial qualities in their respective fields, contributing significantly to society and the country’s development. The evening was glamorous, uplifting and inspiring. Guests got the chance to mingle with the stars, sit back and listen to music performed by inspirational artists and hear the stories of women who were being celebrated for a whole range of different reasons. This was a beautiful event and included a ‘red’ carpet and publicity photos. The event had great celebrity attendees and press coverage. The Chief Guest was Hon. Minister Basil Rajapakse Minister of Economic Development along with the Guest of Honour, High Commissioner Her Excellency Shelley Whiting – High Commission of Canada. Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon was awarded the “Most Inspirational Woman of the year on Special Skills for the exceptional Skills and Achievements as a Woman”.

She was the only award winner to receive a standing ovation by the audience.


WIM (483)


The South Asian Workshop on “Advancing the Rights of Women with Disabilities Through Networking and Capacity Building for Advocacy”, was organized by the National Federation of the Disabled in Nepal and Abilis Foundation, in Katmandu, Nepal in July 2014.

The South Asian Women with Disabilities Network (SAWDN) is a collaborative loose (unregistered) forum among Women with Disabilities in South Asian Region for the promotion of rights and opportunity of persons with disabilities in the region especially women with disabilities. It is a regional level Network established by Women with Disabilities who have been contributing in disability sector Nationally, Regionally and Internationally.

The existence of Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), 2006 has changed the landscape of the disability worldwide; however the issues and concern of women with disabilities in developing countries including South Asia do not seem to be adequately addressed. Thus, this network is designed / established as a common forum to advocate and lobby for the promotion of rights of women with disabilities as envisioned in the CRPD. Thus the Network will contribute for the effective implementation of the CRPD to promote and strengthen rights and opportunity for women with disabilities in these regional-countries.

Several efforts are made to implement the CRPD and to promote and strengthen rights of women with disabilities worldwide including in South Asian countries. However, the rights and issues of women with disabilities in South Asian region do not seem to be adequately addressed. Some policies, laws, Acts at national level are amended and enacted but the concerns of women with disabilities are left behind in these respective countries.

South Asian Countries are organized under a regional organization i.e. South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), however there is not such common agendas and forum for joint advocacy and lobby for the promotion of rights of persons with disabilities so far in this region. It has been strongly realized that Regional body should contribute in promoting rights of persons with disabilities in line with the CRPD. Further, a functional network of the right-holders including women with disabilities is expected to be established to promote disability rights and CRPD in the region. Thus, this network targets for regional collaboration and cooperation of the South Asian countries to empower and development of the women with disabilities and to eliminate all kinds of violence and discrimination against women with disabilities through consolidated effort. The network is expected to contribute to break the barrier faced by women with disabilities in South Asian Region. Further, it works for the promotion and protection of rights of women with disabilities as envisioned in the CRPD. It will work as a change agent to bring quality of life of women with disabilities in South Asian Region in the long term. Thus, in order to establish and run the network formally, organized this workshop in Nepal as per following broader outline.

The overall objective of the workshop was to promote rights of women with disabilities in South Asian Region in line with the CRPD. The specific objectives of the workshop included the following:

  • To establish the network formally, through a declaration by leaders of women with disabilities of South Asian Region.
  • To develop and adopt objectives and working methodology of the Network in promoting and advancing the rights of Women with Disabilities in South Asia region.
  • To develop a capacity building mechanism and advocacy strategies of the Network to promote CRPD and rights of women with disabilities in the region.
  • To develop framework / action plan for mainstreaming disability into development in South Asian region
  • A functional regional network was established to promote the rights of persons with disabilities especially women with disabilities as envisioned by the CRPD.
  • A concrete document incorporating objectives and area of work of the organization was developed and adopted.
  • A way forward for capacity building of women with disabilities and advocacy strategy of the Network was adopted.
  • A joint action plan to mainstream disability into human rights and development agendas in South Asian Region was developed and adopted.

Ms. Manique gunaratne  was a resource person and conducted one session on “Include women with disabilities in the development agenda with regard to United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Incheon Strategy”.




In collaboration with the South Asian Disability Forum (SADF), the British Council (BC), the Comprehensive Health and Education Forum International (CHEF) and the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD), the “South Asian Disability and Development Initiative (SADDI)” has been implemented to address disability and gender inequality and empowering women with disabilities in South Asia.

In this context, the “Regional Capacity Building Training of Women with Disabilities in South Asia” was organized at the APCD training building in Bangkok, Thailand. Moreover, the “Asian and Pacific Conference on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Beijing +20 Review” was also scheduled at the United Nations Convention Centre. The aim of a series of events was to strengthen the capacity of the selected young female leaders with disabilities in South Asia. Ms. Manique Gunaratne was invited as a panelist at the UN ESCAP conference. The participants were Heads of states, Ministers, High Level Government officials, representatives from civil societies and high level officials. She addressed the gathering on “Mainstreaming women with disabilities”. It was the first time a Sri Lankan woman with a disability addressing a UN gathering. There was a very good response for the presentation.

There is a video clip about the above conference on the following link.

Glimpse of Asia-Pacific Beijing+20 Conference

Manique addresses the un escap conference



The cultural norms prevailing in Asia put women at a disadvantage by placing them in a subordinate position in society. Asian women are constantly taught to be subservient. They are taught only to listen and not speak up. The lack of self-confidence leaves them with hunched shoulders, unable to stand tall and to make their voices heard. In such a society, the situation of vision impaired women is worse and they are often more timid and backward than their sighted counterparts.


Of late, Sri Lankan women have shown a tendency of combating outdated cultural norms and securing their rightful place in society. They have gathered the strength to pursue their ambitions. The number of career women has increased considerably in the recent past. However, the same cannot be said of women with vision impairment. Vision impaired women have difficulty in finding employment or setting up one’s own business. This is not purely due to the lack of hard skills or educational qualifications. Even if a vision impaired woman possesses the requisite qualifications and intellect for a particular profession, she fails because she lacks the personality traits that employers and clients look for.


Modern day employers specifically look for candidates who possess soft skills such as interpersonal skills, presentation skills, etiquettes, adequate grooming, team spirit, right attitude, flexibility, appropriate dressing sense and presentability, presence of mind, time management, work ethics, personal hygiene, listening skills, communication skills, street smartness and common sense. Research has shown that in this competitive era, mere hard skills do not make a person employable and enable that person to sustain in the professional life. Unfortunately, most vision impaired women are unable to acquire the skills which are required for personality development due to their impediment. Sighted people follow visual cues and learn from others or join a finishing school. Vision impaired women are unable to join mainstream finishing schools as most schools do not offer individualized lessons nor can they learn through observation. It is expected that the personality development programme specially designed to cater to the needs of this marginalized group of vision impaired women will give them the ability to project themselves better and create an impression on others and eventually find a sustainable income.


In order to improve the above skills the Asian Blind Union “Women & IT” project funded the “Organisational Leadership Development 2014”. The partner organisations were the Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped and the Sri Lanka Council for the Blind. 16 young vision impaired ladies were trained on soft skills and on assistive device as a smart phone. Majority of the trainees were from The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon I.C.T. Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities.


The trainees were trained on:

Motivational Session:

Who am I and what gifts do I bring.

Why am I following this course?

Sharing expectations.

Where am I now and where do I want to be at the end of the course.

Team building and the power of a Team.

Independence and control of my future.

The value of Time and managing it.

What are the different areas of our life and how do we balance it.

What is the Corporate World or what the world of work that I am in is or that I want to be in.

A lot of this was activity based and special attention was given to activities that vision impaired persons can engage in. The purpose of this session was largely to ensure that the participants wanted to learn and were excited to change their lives to reach the next level.

Personal Grooming and Etiquette

From hygiene matters through to Fashion in terms of personal Grooming


Basic etiquette

Handshake through to making conversation at business meetings and table manners

First Impressions and lasting impressions


Workplace Etiquette

What to do and what not to do at the work place and understanding the culture of the work


Developing inter-personal skills, how to get along with others


Communication 1: Interpersonal Communication

The use of our voice to create the desired impression and questions to ascertain correct


This was a practical session of feedback.

Telephone etiquette – Communicating on the phone


Building Confidence

Making presentations and speeches, expressing one’s opinion at meetings


Communication 2: Body language

It is important as Vision impaired persons may not understand the importance of posture,

Gestures, use of space etc.


Communication 3: Voice for effective communication

How to vary volume, Tone, Rate of Speech, Quality of voice, according to the context

Subjects of conversation appropriate for different situations


Communication 4   -Structuring communication

Using what was learnt earlier – they will learn the main areas of communication and how to Structure their communication.


Participants were given the practical experience of table manners, office environment and hotel environment through a field visits to an office and a five star hotel.


Assistive Devices Training:


Introduction to android and touch system

Install your phone & Network.

How to setting your phone

How to answer a call?

How to dial a number?

How to check missed calls?

How to check received calls?

How to check dialed calls?

How to clear Call Log?

How to check a message?

How to create a message?

How to reply a message?

How to reply several people?

How to reply all?

How to forward a message?

How to check previous messages?

How to delete a message?

How to delete all messages?

How to check sent messages?

How to save a message?

How to set date and time?

How to use the calendar?

How to set alarm?

How to have a reminder?

How to use the calculator?

How to switch on the torch?

How to use the radio?

How to check the Connectivity

How to do Display settings

How to have Tone settings

How to check Profiles

How to do call settings

How to do Phone settings

How to do Security settings

How to create an email account?

How to log on to his/her email account?

How to check emails?

How to reply a message?

How to forward a message?

How to check sent items?

How to go to junk box?

How to delete a message from inbox?

How to go to delete box?

How to delete deleted items?

How to check draft?

How to open an attachment?

How to download several attachments?

How to send an attachment?

How to save attachments?

How to use Skype and Viber?

How to use the daisy player and read books?

How to use the voice recorder?

How to save voice memos?

How to take notes?

How to use Google play store

How to create a talkback setting


After the two and half months training the trainees were awarded certificates and a smart phone to be smart ladies. Ms. Manique Gunaratne was the Co-ordinator and resource person for the programme.

Women anIT group photo