“This is the most peaceful protest the world has ever seen.”
Sri Lanka has been in the midst of an economic crisis that has destabilised the entire country. Mismanagement and mounting levels of debt have taken a devastating toll on a country faced with rapidly increasing food and fuel prices as well as power cuts. In the face of this deterioration, protesters have taken to the streets to challenge the government and demand for drastic, meaningful changes to address the crisis.
One of those protesters is One Young World Ambassador Anoka Abeyratne. She has been working on the citizen-led protests of 2022 alongside collectives of journalists and youth to amplify the changes needed in both the policy and economic spheres in the country.
Highlights from the Times Radio interview
Anoka spoke to Times Radio's Kait Borsay this morning to share her views from the ground.
“A lot of young people, who can contribute to the economy, are leaving (the country) as they have had enough. But for me, I’m trying to stick it (out) here as I know there is a lot of potential here”
“This economic crisis won’t end in 2 years at this rate, it will be for 5-10 years with the repercussions… we need to step up and make the difference right now with new leadership, hopefully young leadership, and also better economic reforms.”
“The moment anything gets out of hand, it is a good cause to shut us down. So, we are remaining peaceful [...] We need to maintain the protest going forward, and keep bringing young people together from across the country”
Anoka is a policy advocate, community organizer and social entrepreneur. She is the co-founder of Growin’ Money – an eco-social enterprise started at age 13 to empower women and vulnerable communities across South Asia through digital and environmental enterprise. Her petition to support the Animal Welfare Bill is the most signed petition in the history of Sri Lanka with over 160000 signatures in just 3 days, leading to the draft bill being revived in parliament.
She serves as the Environment Lead - Royal Commonwealth Society. She served as an Assistant Director - Ministry of Environment, Government of Sri Lanka, as well as the United Nations, and overseeing 14 teams in corporate sustainability for the biggest apparel company in South Asia. She is on the climate change content development team for the British Council Active Citizens programme in Sri Lanka.
Anoka graduated from University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School with a master’s degree and is a lawyer. Her thesis focused on entrepreneurship in contributing to the Sri Lankan economy.
Anoka is a One Young World Ambassador and a Speaker at the OYW in Canada. She is the first Sri Lankan female Commonwealth Youth Award recipient from Her Majesty the Queen, a Forbes under 30 awardee, Sri Lanka’s first female World Economic Forum New Champion and first Sri Lankan awardee of the World Youth Award, Zonta award for Environment recipient, Cosmopolitan 35 under 35, and she is a British Council International Climate Champion and Active Citizen.