Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the world’s first female head of state and Sri Lanka’s first female prime minister was elected in 1960. Currently, Sri Lanka has made progress in promoting gender equality through laws and policies, such as the Constitution guaranteeing equal rights and the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. Education has reached gender parity, but gender disparities persist in wages, job opportunities, and leadership positions. Challenges include addressing violence, promoting women’s economic empowerment, breaking stereotypes, and ensuring equitable access to resources and opportunities.
During this period, an overview of a lady who originated from Punnalaikadduvan and ended her sports journey in South Africa.
Tharjini Sivalingam, also known as ‘Gene,’ has had an exceptional netball career that spanned over a decade and has significantly impacted the sport. Her farewell to international netball at the Netball World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa, marks the end of her illustrious journey representing Sri Lanka.
Recognized as one of the world’s best netball shooters of all time, Gene’s achievements and contributions have garnered her a special place in netball history. At the age of 44, she decided to retire from international competition, bidding farewell with deep emotion and gratitude for the support and love she received throughout her career.
Gene’s path to a successful netball career had a unique start due to the challenges posed by the north-east civil war in Sri Lanka, which ended in 2009. Despite these obstacles, she pursued her education in Economics at the Eastern University in Batticaloa. During her university years, she discovered her passion for netball and started her journey toward becoming a remarkable player.
Gene’s height and flexibility became her distinguishing features after finding her calling in netball. Her potential was recognized by Sri Lanka coach Thilaka Jinadasa during a university tournament in 2004. After completing her studies, she joined Seylan Bank, which facilitated her participation in National Pool practices in Colombo.
Gene’s impressive performance on the netball court was evident during the 2011 World Championship, despite Sri Lanka’s first-round exit from the tournament. She stood out by scoring an impressive 290 goals, earning her the title of the best shooter of the year in 2011.
In a groundbreaking move for Sri Lankan netball, Gene became the first player from the country to play professionally in 2017. She represented the City West Falcons netball club in Australia, showcasing her skills and contributing to the growth of netball in Sri Lanka. Her pivotal role in the 2018 Asian Netball Championships led to Sri Lanka securing the fifth championship title, and she was rightfully recognized as the Player of the Tournament.
Tharjini Sivalingam’s journey in netball is one of determination, resilience, and extraordinary skill. Her legacy as a pioneer in Sri Lankan netball and her accomplishments on the international stage will undoubtedly inspire future generations of netball players in the country and beyond.
In Sri Lanka, which has revealed to the world about gender equality, women are currently facing specific issues at the beginning. For this to change, need to emerge athletes like Tharjini and women leaders. So when women are equal to men everything will change. A new Sri Lanka will be born.
Article by : Sanjeevan Viveganathan | Faculty of Agriculture
Design by : Prabhashana Rathnayake | Faculty of Arts
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