Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial Oration

January 15, 2013

The Past Pupils’ Association of St Bridget’s Convent honoured their most celebrated student of the school, the Hon Sirimavo R D Bandaranaike, by organizing the inaugural ‘Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial Oration’ on 15th January 2013 at the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Exhibition Centre at the BMICH.  The orator, Her Excellency Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga yet another proud product of St. Bridget’s Convent delivered the oration on “Educating Women for Leadership”.

Sirimavo Ratwatte then, had her education at St. Bridget’s Convent from 1924 to 1934. Her education at the Convent undoubtedly prepared her for the limited opportunities that society then dictated as a norm for women - effectively tending a home and raising a family. However when she was sworn in as the world’s first woman Prime Minister on 21st July 1960 the impact she had on the politics of this country was enormous.

The Program commenced with a documentary film on Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike which was followed by an Introductory Address by Rev. Sr. Solange Fernando, Patroness of the Association. She said that the Oration was conducted in memory of a most distinguished past pupil, whose illustrious political career was inseparably linked not only to the history of our country but to that of the whole world. Whilst congratulating the President and Executive Committee of the Association for initiating and conducting this event she went on to say that she was hopeful that such orations will be a regular event in the PPA calendar.  

Dr. Nirmala M. Pieris, President then provided a preamble to the Oration that was illustrated with many pictures and also introduced the orator. She focussed on the personal life of Ms. Bandaranaike and her life at school whilst also emphasizing the role played by the school on the life of Sirimavo. She highlighted the fact that Sirimavo Bandaranaike holds a record unmatched by any person in this country and for that matter in the world. She has been the world's first woman Prime Minister, the first woman Leader of the Opposition, thrice Prime Minister of this country and the only political leader in the world to be sworn in by her daughter, President, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. She said that the PPA is extremely proud that our school laid the foundation for the enormous achievements of this great lady.

H. E. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga delivered an eloquent oration highlighting many facts of leadership and women as leaders. She said that good leader is one who makes better humans of others, giving them a vision of a better world and inspiring them to greater heights. A good leader will have the rare ability to pick the common cause before personal interest at all times. “She must be honest in what she does with regard to realising her vision as well as in monetary and material dealings.” She stressed that a good leader lights up the darkness, giving hope to the desperate, and courage to those who will not dare. However, for a person to be a great leader, he or she must possess a clear vision of what the leader, her people, or the organisation wish to achieve, an effective plan of action as well as tools and materials to implement it, and unswerving honesty, transparency, and commitment. She went further to say that women have faced massive challenges to earn their place among the rounds of leaders in every sphere, be it in politics, in employment, in society, and sometimes at home. The struggle has been long and arduous she said noting that the country still has a long way to go in having females in leadership positions.

Dr. Swinitha Ranasinghe, 2nd Vice President proposed the Vote of Thanks, whilst Ms. Jayani Wickremanayake Joint Secretary of the Association was the Master of Ceremonies.

The event was attended by almost 500 that comprised of Members of the Association, Past Presidents, Sisters, Teachers, Students and Distinguished Guests. The event that was so elegantly and precisely conducted drew several appreciative comments viz. “Yesterday was brilliant. I was so proud to be a Bridgetine, everything was of such high standard”, “Congratulations to all the ladies in the sub-committee as it was so meticulously organized event. I am sure every single Bridgetine who was present last evening felt so proud of themselves”, “Yesterday was an event planned with precision that unfolded perfectly”, “A job perfectly executed”, “The event moved so smoothly that I could envisage the perfect team work that went on behind the scenes, it is this kind of unity we need in our nation – the example you set and the model you portrayed will no doubt be a lasting lesson to the present Bridgetines”   etc. etc.

The President and the Committee thank all those who thus expressed their appreciation and assure the membership that they will continue to strive towards the betterment of the PPA.