By Natasha Perera
Youth speak forum 2017 organized by AIESEC in Sri Lanka was held on the 11th of March 2017 at Trace Expert City Maradana. Success was a definite win for the event as the delegates rushed through the doors prior to the set time of the forum which was set to 9.00 a.m. Delegates walked in with excitement and enthusiasm. As the organizing committee was on their feet making sure the delegates find their seats, Youth Speak Forum commenced.
A sense of electrical wave was running through as the crowd responded with a cheerful greeting. Sandaru Karunasiri (Member Committee Vice President – Outgoing Global Volunteer) delightfully began the event with an enchanting greeting. Mr.Karunasiri warmly welcomed the delegation and educated briefly on what Youth Speak Forum is about with an overview of the forum. Without further due the first guest speaker for the day was introduced to take over. The crowd was energetic as Mr. Uchita De Zoysa (Senior Advisor – Ministry of sustainable development and wildlife ) took on the stage with a blaze. A charismatic speech was given by Mr.De Zoysa as he focused thoroughly on the Importance of the role of the youth in achieving sustainable development goals in Sri Lanka. Approaching towards the end of Mr.De Zoysa’s marvelous and inspiring speech, the delegation had a detailed understanding on what sustainable development goals are and most importantly they understood why we as the youth should be responsible for the future of in promoting sustainable living. With the end of the first key note speech scheduled for the day, the delegates prepared themselves for the second key note speech of the day. Mr.Karunasiri then welcomed Ms.Sonu Grover ( Country Manager for Coca-Cola ) to the stage and she made quite an entrance. Her sense of captivation fled right across the hall. Known to be a very knowledgeable lady she did not disappoint. Her focus was on gender equality and economic growth as the forum was mainly focused on the most voted sustainable development goals for the forum which was “Gender Equality” and “Good jobs and economic growth”. As she spoke descriptively on “Gender Equality” she gave the delegates a remarkable understanding of women being successful in the corporate world. As her key note speech came to a successful end the delegates were given refreshments to revitalize their energy and prepare for the final key note speech. Finally, the third key note speaker was introduced to stage with a great round of applause. A sense of enigma was buzzing as Miss. Chandi Dharmarathne (Senior Director Human Resources – Virtusa Corporation) took on the stage. She was taking on a fusion as she was describing the importance of developing one’s self in the corporate sector whilst fixating on how women should be daring when stepping into the gender driven corporate world. She empowered and encouraged the delegates to promote gender equality in the corporate world as she was explaining the current disappointing status of women in the corporate world with facts and figures. It is safe to say that Miss. Chandi Dharmarathne’s speech was a definite mind blower. As the final key note speech ended Mr.Dinesh Saparamadu (CEO of hSenid ) made a surprise website launch which made all delegates feel honorable to witness.
The delegates re-acquainted themselves as the next most educational occurrence was about to proceed. But, lack of energy was sensed as the delegates looked worn out. As AIESECers we did what we always do. Although, most of the delegates seemed lost and clearly seemed un-aware of “Roll-calls” rather “Jives” they did not hesitate to participate. The delegates were pumped with vitality by the end of a few known roll-calls rather Jives.
Mr.Karunasiri then proceeded with the introduction of the Panel Discussion. The moderator for the set panel discussion was a well-known fervent lady who goes by the name Amaya Wijesinghe. She took her seat on stage and without hesitation introduced the guest panelists invited for the panel discussion. The four guest panelists included Mr.Dinesh Saparamadu ( CEO of hSenid), Sandun Fernando (Senior Consultant of 3W Consulting (pvt) Ltd, Ramaaya Salgoda (Program analyst – UN women) and Mrs.Upulka Samarakoon ( Head of Human Resource – Hemas Holdings ). The panel discussion was mainly focused on the two sustainable development goals “Gender Equality” and “Good Jobs and economic growth”. The discussion was held based on pressing issues such as disputes women face in the work force, discrimination in the corporate world regarding gender, possible economic growth strategies, etc. These were just a glimpse of the topics that were discussed and the eagerness of the delegates was well shown off as they challenged the panel with doubts of their own. The panel sure shot back with enlightening and persuasive responses in order to empower the delegates. The panel discussion also ended with a great success as we believe it motivated the delegates on how they can make a change with regards to the discussed content.
With a quick start Mr.Karunasiri introduced the networking session (Work Shops) which was set for two hours. Many corporate and non-profit organizational influential leaders took up the challenge in increasing awareness for the present delegates which was related to the focused sustainable development goals which once again was “Gender Equality” and “Good Jobs and Economic Growth”. The networking session was commenced with Mr. Mr.Koshitha Peramunugame (Head of Singer Business School ) and Ms.Ramaaya Salgoda ( Program Analyst ). The two individuals were at ease as the delegates acquainted themselves in the allocated networking session. Mr.Koshitha Peramunugame’s main focal point of the networking session was “Corporate success”. He raised awareness on how a young individual should climb the corporate ladder whilst improving rather developing and acquiring the criteria that is being set by the corporate sector today. Whilst Mr.Koshitha Peramunugame was conducting an educational workshop, Ms.Ramaaya Salgoda was discussing about women empowerment in general. She addressed the current status of Sri Lanka in related to gender equality by highlighting the flaws that should be omitted in the years to come. Purpose was to inform and make the delegates aware in order to identify effective solutions. As the first networking session ended the second networking session began. Mr.Senel Wanniarachchi (Hashtag Generation) and Mr.Dhanika Perera (Entrepreneur ). The delegates were once again allocated accordingly as preferred. Mr. Senel Wanniarachchi was empowering the delegates on how we as the youth should take on the responsibility in promoting gender equality as we are the future leaders who has the power to unlock a better future. The delegates seemed motivated and enthusiastic in creating a gender equal society. Whilst magic was created in one corner of the hall we had young entrepreneurs being made at the other end of the hall as Mr.Dhanika Perera educated the delegates on how to be innovative and creative leaders who can outshine in the corporate world. His tips were certainly were golden and definitely to be considered. The networking session ended with a bang as we witnessed the delegates filled with energy, passion and motivation.
With the end of the lunch break we moved on to the highlight of the evening. The magical moment where a new change will be brought in by our motivated, passionate and energetic delegates who were consider to be the future leaders. Mr.Karunasiri introduced the essence of the event, the “Action Space”. The words definitely did speak for itself as the young delegates got an opportunity to team up and design new projects that would benefit the society and overlook the issues that arise in regards to ‘Gender Equality’ and ‘Decent work and economic growth’. “Action Space” was conducted by two important personalities, Sohan Wijegunawardana ( Member Committee Vice President – Marketing and Communication and Elect Member Committee President – 17/18 )and Tharinduni Desilva ( Member Committee Vice President – Public Relations ).It was mesmerizing as we witnessed young minds brainstorm and contribute to make and be the change the society needs desperately. Delegates got an opportunity to present their ideas in teams, and building up rather creating projects were done with innovative thinking, passion and motivation. The energy that was spread across the hall was definitely felt beneath our bones only because we witnessed the most monumental moment of the day. Event concluded with a pledge taken up by the youth which was chanted loudly with passion and motivation. The youth promised to work hard to take responsibility to make an impact. This definitely gave everyone an assurance and satisfaction because the result of the forum gave us a glimpse of the future leaders to come and that was priceless as we speak.
Youth Speak Forum ended successfully with tears in many eyes as we had confidence in the future to come. Youth Speak Forum definitely flew over the expectations set and that was heartwarming to experience. With that Youth Speak Forum 2017 ended. The ultimate goal of the forum was to empower and motivate the youth and just like that we did!!