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Rising Stars: Empowering Women’s Equality

Gender equality is a fundamental human right expounding the equal value between the genders. It means that the rights, access to opportunities and the freedom to make one’s own choices which are instrumental in determining the quality of one’s life should not depend on one’s gender. Despite the uncountable efforts to ensure women’s entitlement to equality, dignity, autonomy and to live in safety women and girls everywhere still fall victim to various forms of violence and are denied access to life-changing opportunities.

Gender Equality as SDG 5


Gender equality being goal five of the United Nations sustainable development goals and the goal of the month of March where we celebrate the international women’s day, is one that paves the way for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world. Achieving gender equality everywhere might seem like a rather distant and ambitious reality as this is an issue that systematically plagues societies everywhere yet it’s an absolute necessity to make sure we do not end up wasting away half the world’s potential.


To empower girls and women is to remove the barriers that hinder the ability to realize their goals and full potential which can be classified across three pillars in terms of agency; that is capacity for goal setting and follow-through, resources, and social context. When we strive to reach gender parity, whether they be socio-economic or political issues, it is important to address them with reference to these three pillars.

Education: the open sesame of endless possibilities

Around the world 129 million girls are out of school and only 49 per cent of countries have achieved gender parity in education. The importance of education for the girl child has been shown time and time again but due to poverty, conflict and negative gender stereotypes many girls are kept out of schools. Girls who receive an education are more likely to have control over the decisions that impact them and be financially independent. Education for girls produces strong, economically stable communities that are inclusive of everyone.
To ensure education for girls we can dismantle discriminatory gender norms at the societal level and call for gender-responsive budgets, education plans, policies and pedagogies that prioritize gender equality at an institutional level.

 

Empower women to empower others.

Inclusive and accountable governance demand higher participation of women as candidates but as result of the misguided belief that women are not fit for political leadership the field is largely male dominated and at all decision-making levels women are under-represented. Women’s political participation is associated with reduced political violence, governance is more likely to be responsive, transparent, and accountable. Their unique female lived experiences allow them to be more distinctively attuned to tackling gendered issues. And the more women are involved in political leadership, the more women are shown that they too can lead their communities which in turn breaks down negative perceptions of female leadership.


So, to make sure that women are given a seat at the table there’s an emphatic need for legislative measures and policy reforms that provide women with fair access to political spheres. To do more, as we always can, would be to implement initiatives that provide training for female candidates and campaigns that raise awareness about gender equality in politics.


Education and political leadership are just two ways to empower girls and women. While this may be just barely scratching the surface, education as an opportunity-creating mechanism and female political participation as a norm setting, social engineering instrument, would go so far to achieve the goal of gender equality. Women and girls represent half of the world’s potential brewing with determination and force to make this world a better place. So, it’s our responsibility to empower them and make way for them to prove themselves.

 

Kethakee Rajapaksha
Content Writer
AIESEC in University Of Colombo

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Essence of Community Development: A Glow or a Flicker?

Defining the process: Shimmers of glow


A glow, by definition, is warmth and light amidst the cold darkness; a flicker is an unsteady and momentary zest of light. Which of these defines best, the bona fide Community Development? Simply said, Community development is the empowerment of the populace by uplifting concerning necessities of life. Its momentum is fuelled by the urge to bridge and strengthen societies who are at a collective disadvantage in physical, environmental, economical, socio-cultural, intellectual or technological aspects of life. Any action, minute or extravagant, performed with this intention at heart, shall create towering boons for the community that lasts a long time.


Exploring horizons: Constellations


The Community Development Project was triumphant as the Lead clubs of D.S. Senanayake College and Sussex College of Malambe pioneered with generous contributions, wherein they were empowered and inspired towards community development initiatives.
While working in community development of Expansions Management, I received the opportunity to learn from a specialized personnel about how to conduct an impactful Community Development Project. The end goal has to be to improve the community’s inclusiveness. Enhance their capabilities. Bring them one step closer towards equality. Let’s explore the key takeaways:

  • Conducting social research as an initial step

This enables us to identify the crucial necessities of the community: Direct discussions with community representatives and in-person visits are reliable sources of data collection.

  • Striving to achieve wholeness of the initiative

Community development expounds more than a mere donation. This is the act of enabling a community to provide for themselves. While respecting their worldviews, we should empower the community and build resilience.

  • Building your network of support groups

Community development is the process of bringing people together to solve social and community problems that affect them. Collaboration and teamwork are key pillars.


Unlearning the myth: Shadows fall behind


Community Development is not the best approach if one has already planned what should be done since it does not give space for the community to decide the outcomes. Primarily the myth that the community shall need whatever the provider gives, lacks solidarity. Secondly, there wouldn’t be space for distinctive time limits, since it’s a development “process” and not community “work”.


As individuals we can do so little, as a community we can do so much: Glowing flickers;
As youth we can pioneer initiatives such as addressing social issues like poverty, inequality and systemic discrepancies (i.e. gender inequality, racial discrimination). Broad scale projects like infrastructure development, skills enhancement, education and health concerns are possible with collective efforts. Purpose begins with finding a problem we want to solve. The community is calling you in for action.

 


Mahisha Weerasinghe
AIESEC in University of Colombo

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From Clueless to Changemaker: My AIESEC Evolution

A Rookie’s Tale: Stepping into AIESEC (September 22nd, 2023)


The crisp autumn air swirled with nervous energy on September 22nd, 2023. Here I was, a wide-eyed freshman, at the AIESEC winter induction. It is not true if I say that I’m a timorous person as I was a Senior Prefect at my school and a Presidents’ Guide of Sri Lanka Girls Guides Association. But this time I was very nervous because the room buzzed with a lot of unfamiliar faces and a language I was eager to learn – the language of global leadership and cultural exchange. AIESEC, with its promise of adventure and growth, felt like a passport to a world beyond textbooks. Little did I know, this single step would be the beginning of an extraordinary journey.

 

From Sales Pitch to Global Impact: My IGT Hustle


My AIESEC adventure kicked off with a bang – as a member of the IGT (Incoming Global Talent) sales team. After learning about objectives of doing sales, I was given to do Market Researchers and make Company calls. At the very first time I was highly strung to get calls for strangers but eventually I was adjustable by stepping out of my comfort zone. During every conversation, not only I had rejections but also made progress. Consequently, it was like opening doors to life-changing experiences for me across the globe.

 


From Side-lines to Spotlight: My PR Triumph with AIESEC!


From the very beginning, my AIESEC adventure has been a whirlwind of challenges and triumphs. But joining the Public Relations campaign team stands out as a mic-drop moment. From that moment onwards, It wasn’t just about crafting catchy headlines; it was about becoming a storyteller, weaving narratives that amplified AIESEC’s impact and ignited a fire of possibility in our audience. Seeing our campaigns take center stage, sparking conversations and inspiring action, was a rush unlike no other. It wasn’t just a decision, it was a starring role in my incredible story of AIESEC.


Lights, Camera, AIESEC! Taking Centre Stage at Excellentia


The AIESEC journey wasn’t all spreadsheets and sales calls. There was a place for creativity and self-expression too. The Annual Excellence Awards ceremony of AIESEC in Colombo Central , fondly nicknamed Excellentia, became my unexpected stage. There, I had the exhilarating opportunity to do a captivating singing performance. In that moment, the nervous flutters backstage were quickly eclipsed by the joy of sharing AIESEC’s impact on a grand scale. In those bright lights, I discovered a hidden confidence and a deeper appreciation for the power of faith.


Leading the Charge: Stepping Up as PR Campaign Team Leader


As my AIESEC experience unfolded, my skill set grew, and so did my responsibilities. This is when I was first entrusted with the mantle of PR campaign team leader. This new role demanded strategic thinking, effective communication, and the ability to inspire a team. We brainstormed innovative ideas, crafted compelling narratives, and navigated the ever-evolving world of social media. Seeing our campaigns garner attention and create a buzz for AIESEC initiatives filled me with a sense of accomplishment.  Leading a team of passionate individuals to achieve a common goal was an invaluable lesson in leadership and collaboration I’ve gained.



These are just a few snapshots from my AIESEC adventure, a journey that continues to unfold. With every challenge conquered, every skill honed, and every connection made, I discover a new facet of myself and the boundless potential of AIESEC. This is more than just an organization; it’s a community, a launchpad for personal growth, and a testament to the transformative power of stepping outside your comfort zone. The world awaits, and AIESEC has equipped me with the wings to soar.


Liseka Mendis
AIESEC in University Of Colombo

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From doubting myself to being self-confident: My AIESEC journey

I am Gamidu Welikanna, an undergraduate from UCSC-University of Colombo School of Computing. I’m currently a B2B (Business to Business) Team Leader for incoming Global Volunteer (iGV) and also a part of the leadership body of the PM team.

The beginning of AIESEC journey

Speaking of my AIESEC journey, I joined AIESEC in the summer peak of term 23.24. I was really nervous since I was new to my university.  Back then, I joined because I just wanted to be a part of something.  After a couple of months passed,  one of our Local Committee Vice Presidents shared the experience from her AIESEC journey at a Local Committee Meeting. From that, I understood the real reason for wanting to be an AIESECer which was losing my biggest two fears.

Turning point from self doubt to self-confidence

Ever since I was a kid I have had two fears; not trying new things and overthinking the fact that I would not be able to to balance things I do. After listening to that speech, which I believe to be the turning point in my AIESEC journey as well as my life, I thought, “ Why not go all in? Let’s just do that without thinking too much.“

So, I decided to apply to an organizing committee, Excellentia ’24; annual award ceremony of Colombo Central, AIESEC in University of Colombo. I was terrified at the interview and of what would happen. But, I got selected as an Organizing Committee Vice President for external relations. I met some amazing people whom I love a lot. Even though our event ended over 2 months ago, we still meet from time to time. I would say it’s a bond that would last a lifetime.

 

Overtaking overthinking

After that I only had one fear to be conquered, overthinking things. So I did two things. I applied for incoming Global Volunteer leadership body and around the same time I applied as a graphic designer for Entity Support Team in AIESEC in Georgia. I got selected for those two roles. This only kept boosting my confidence in myself. I realized that I have gone all in with AIESEC without even realizing it. I met a lot of new people, became friends with some AIESECers from other countries and above all I learnt to be fearless.


Today, whenever I try something new I never doubt myself.Whatever I do I put all my effort into it. I know whatever happens, the best things happen to me. Whether it’s a company meeting or making posts or an academic exam, I will never fear any of them. So for that I am eternally grateful for being a part of AIESEC.

To my fellow AISECers, be bold and be fearless. You’d be surprised at the adventures you can experience through AIESEC. So make every moment that you spend with AIESEC memorable.

Gamidu Welikanna
AIESEC in University Of Colombo

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Boy Who Lived: Courage and resilience with AIESEC

BOY WHO LIVED


Everyone has a story to tell, and this is mine—a journey from a dark place to a glimmer of hope. My safe place was my bedroom, where I could escape from the overwhelming world outside. Some days, just getting out of bed felt impossible. Anxiety, fear, and chaotic thoughts swirled around me, but I refused to give up. I sought help, both from professionals and from within myself. I knew things wouldn’t get better unless I made an effort to change. Then, I met someone remarkable. She was involved with AIESEC, and her courage inspired me. We talked about it, and suddenly, I found myself writing this essay.

Today, I’m on the brink of a new chapter, ready to transform my life. I’m no longer stuck in the shadows. I’m choosing to move forward, guided by the courage I’ve found and the support of others. It’s a journey with ups and downs, but I’m determined to keep going. In the end, this story is about resilience—the ability to bounce back from tough times. I’m proof that with help and determination, it’s possible to find light even in the darkest of days.


HOME


Joining AIESEC marked a pivotal moment in my life. The excitement of waiting for the results after filling out the questionnaire, and then the honesty I brought to the interview, all contributed to the thrill. When I received the news that I was selected as a member, it felt like a personal triumph, especially after struggling through a difficult period. However, the darkness that had previously clouded my life reappeared during the recruitment process. Despite the initial struggle, I somehow had the courage to get out of bed and participated in the recruitment activities.

During the icebreaker sessions, it started to vanish. I realized the value of being part of AIESEC on that day. The day was filled with engaging learning sessions, but I found myself genuinely interested in understanding what AIESEC was all about. Initially, I had thought it was merely about exchanges, but as I delved deeper, I discovered a whole new world of opportunities. My initial goal was to volunteer, but AIESEC offered me so much more. I learned, I laughed, and I danced without a care in the world. Thus, I began to shed my timid and antisocial tendencies, embracing the opportunity to engage with the world alongside like-minded individuals who welcomed me with open arms. In the end, AIESEC ceased to be just an organization; it became my home—a place where I could grow, learn, and thrive in the company of supportive and accepting peers.

 


SELF ACTUALIZATION


Joining outgoing Global Volunteer function was a game-changer for me. It made me realize that I had qualities of a leader inside me that I hadn’t recognized before. It also opened up doors to lots of exciting new opportunities. I joined the People Management back office, and went to the Operation Summit of outgoing Global Volunteer function. It was amazing to see how AIESEC can transform people’s lives. During the summit, when everyone around me hesitated for jives, I decided to jump in. It was a moment of realizing I was becoming more confident. I also took part in a pitching competition, which helped me get better at communicating myself.

Applying for global volunteering meant creating my first-ever CV and having interviews, including one with the AIESEC team from Poland. It was a boost to my confidence to discover I could do more than I thought. Waiting to hear back about volunteering felt like a journey of self-discovery. I started checking my email regularly, eagerly awaiting any news. Attending the Exchange Marathon showed me a different side of AIESEC and inspired me to want to do more. I wanted to see AIESEC in Colombo Central on the screen at the end of the countdown. Even though I’m still learning about AIESEC and how everything works, I’m eager to seize any opportunity that comes my way. This journey has taught me a lot about myself and has made me love both personal growth and being part of AIESEC even more.


GRATITUDE


Thinking back on my time with AIESEC, I’m just so grateful. In such a short time, I’ve made so many memories and felt so much love. I’ve been keeping a journal to jot down everything that’s happened, adding cute photos and even keeping sugar cube letters from our Local Committee Vice Presidents. One thing I really love about AIESEC is the fun jives we do. They always make me feel refreshed and happy, even when things get stressful, like during exam season. One time, the outgoing Global Volunteer team sent me a really nice song, and our daily dose of happiness. These are little things that aren’t little, which was such a sweet gesture. I also love our happy hours. We’ve had some really fun times, and when we played games on my first day in People Management function.

 

But what really makes me happy is how caring everyone in AIESEC is the team leaders/executive board go out of their way to make sure everyone feels welcome and supported. And during exams, the People Management campaign team organized a virtual mental health awareness initiative, which meant a lot to me as someone who’s been through tough times. I can’t put into words how much these gestures mean to me. They make me feel loved and part of something special. AIESEC has truly been a place of growth, friendship, and gratitude for me, and I’m so thankful for it.

 

Hariharan Koddiswaran
AIESEC in University Of Colombo

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