Women's International Shipping & Trading Association

WISTA SL Women’s Day forum discusses how “COLLECTIVELY WE CAN #BREAKTHEBIAS”

January 1, 1970

WISTA SL Women’s Day forum discusses how “COLLECTIVELY WE CAN #BREAKTHEBIAS”

Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Sri Lanka concluded yet another successful event held at Cinnamon Grand Hotel to celebrate Women’s Day 2022 with an insightful panel discussion followed by networking and cocktails.

WISTA Sri Lanka President Debbie Jones addressing the gathering, highlighted the importance of collectively breaking the bias and minimizing the gender gap. She also emphasized the positive impact gender equality will bring into the national economy. She further elaborated on objectives of WISTA Sri Lanka and the activities carried out to empower women in shipping and logistics, which include promoting shipping and logistics as a preferred industry from a job entry point, strengthening skills and competencies with various initiatives, providing networking and mentoring opportunities.

The panel discussion themed ‘Collectively We Can Break The Bias’ with a challenging and thought-provoking session was moderated by Head of Wijaya Integrated Media Solutions, Gayani Punchihewa with the presence of female movers and shakers of Shipping & Logistics industry of SL and their male supporters along with founder member of WISTA SL – Shehara De Silva. Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority – Dr. Prasantha Jayamanne, President / Head of Legal Secretarial, CSR, John Keells Holdings PLC – Ms. Nadija Tambiah, Chairperson of Hatton National Bank PLC – Ms. Aruni Goonetilleke, Transformational coach and a psychological counsellor who is also the founder of program “Serenity” – Ms. Dilmi Weerasinghe and Regional Head Of People Partners, West Central Asia Maersk – Ms. Katyayani Krishna were a part of the said eminent panel. They shared views on an industry with only 3% female participation and what needs to be done to understand & help each other to break the bias collectively.

Key take homes from the wonderful panelists at the event were,

  1. Importance of building competencies – Once you build competencies, your competencies will be the most important. Your gender, race, or sexual orientation will fade into the background.


  1. Importance of raising hand – If there is no seat at the table, we been ladies will have to bring a chair to the table because no one will do it for us. Pursuing leadership opportunities, taking the initiative to position as a leader and demonstrate skills. Step up and volunteer for the hard assignments. Get noticed by showing what skills and knowledge you bring to the table.


  1. Building a support system around you – Partners, parents, family, and friends also have a bigger role to play. Share your dreams with them and seek their support. Flush the toxic people out from your life.


  1. Forgo the need to be a perfectionist in balancing work and life – You will always have that nagging feeling of guilt (Working mom guilt) and you have to accept it, forgive yourself, ask help.


  1. Build Sisterhood – Building alliances with influential women. Asking their guidance and to offer insights in difficult situations. Believe in the power of solidarity and purpose to change assumptions and erase long-standing biases.

The event was well-supported by SAGT as the Corporate Partner, MSC as the platinum sponsor, SALOTA International as the Gold Sponsor, Maersk Lanka, CMA CGM Lanka & Ceylon Logistics as the Silver Sponsors & Wijaya News Paper as the exclusive media sponsor.

WISTA Sri Lanka has been able to carry out many such successful events in the past in keeping with its objectives of raising the profile of women in the maritime sector and working for gender balance in an industry still male dominated.   WISTA as an association has worked tirelessly over the years to encourage women to take up careers in Shipping & Logistics whilst sharing knowledge, building skills and competencies as early as School entry level, creating forums for aspiring women to network, and be inspired.


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