Who we are

The Arka Initiative

The Arka Initiative is a grassroots organization which provides tangible and practical support on issues pertaining to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) in Sri Lanka. The initiative is led by a group of highly skilled, committed young professionals, who are advised by senior professionals in diverse fields.
  • Create and Disseminate Accurate Information on Sexual and Reproductive Health
  • Provide Comprehensive Sex Education to Children
  • Run Platforms to Facilitate Access to Medical Professionals
  • Create Safe Spaces for Conversation at a Corporate, Institutional and Grassroots Level
  • Provide reusable sanitary pads to underserved women in Sri Lanka (SSP)
  • Manufacture the most affordable pad on the market (Adithi)
  • give People the Tools They Need to Navigate Their Sexual and Reproductive Health
  • address and Influence Societal Perceptions and Narratives Surrounding Sexual and Reproductive Health
  • become a Platform Recognized to Communicate and Disseminate Knowledge on Sexual and Reproductive Health

I feel like we gained a lot of information that we didn’t know before, and we ask that more programs be done as it was very valuable. We corrected many misconceptions, many blessings for organizing this.

I feel like it is a strength to not just me, but all who attended. Truly we haven’t spoken this openly before, I feel happy, and now I feel like we can even educate others. It seems like a lie to feel ashamed about these things now. It was such a good programme, wishing good merits to all involved

Jananika
Sustainable Sanitation Project session attendee

Our Team

Manisha Dissanayake

Founder, Director

Manisha is an Attorney-at-Law practicing in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, with a focus on Human Rights Law. She obtained an LL.B. at the London School of Economics and a Master’s in Human Rights and Democratization at the University of Colombo. She has worked in several Chambers, Law Firms and think-tanks in Sri Lanka and the UK. Manisha previously worked on the transitional justice and reconciliation process for the Government of Sri Lanka, and has also been invited to speak at various forums, including the Law Faculty and Medical Faculty of the University of Colombo and Harvard University.

Shruthi De Visser

Director

Shruthi De Visser is a Research Consultant specializing in gender and peacebuilding and is presently the Country Coordinator for Everyday Peace Indicators. She obtained her Bachelor’s in Political Science and Government at Gordon College and her Master’s in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Colombo. She has previously worked as a researcher and consultant for the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms (Government of Sri Lanka), Women and Media Collective and the South Asian Center for Legal Studies.

Dr. Rashmira Balasuriya

Head of Mentors
Dr. Rashmira Balasuriya currently works as a private practitioner after undergoing postgraduate training in Family Medicine through the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine, Colombo. She was previously based at Kings Hospital Colombo and in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at District General Hospital Embilipitiya. She completed her BSc and MBBS at Kings College London and Newcastle University respectively. She also works at the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka and has conducted extensive research into the use of contraception. Her research has been published widely, and includes an analysis of contraceptive implants and women’s understanding of family planning.

Dr. Sathyani Wevita

Head of Resource Persons
Sathyani obtained her MBBS at Tianjin Medical University, China, and completed her internship at the Tianjin Medical University General Hospital. She is presently reading for her Msc, and conducting medical research on Dengue, Tuberculosis, Covid-19 and Meliodosis at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) in affiliation with the Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) and La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI), California, USA.

Tharakie Pahathkumbura

Head of Research
Tharakie is a researcher who works in community outreach through research, education and creation of accessible, safe spaces. She studied Womens’ and Gender Studies (BA) at Augustana College, Rock Island, and worked at the Swenson Swedish Immigration and Research Center, and the Jane Addams’ Hull-House Museum. Tharakie now works to identify and resolve gender and sex-based issues at the community level.

Dilki Wijeyesekere

Head of Operations
Dilki is a Relationship Associate of Citi Bank N.A. She holds a Bachelors degree in Economics and Finance from the University of London. She has worked for Macromed, a medical equipment company that allowed her access to many hospitals and health care institutions in Sri Lanka. She has also worked with the UNFPA for a gender based violence project as a research assistant and is passionate about creating awareness in relation to social issues.

Natasha Tikirimali Perera

Head of Creative

Natasha holds a BA (Hons) in Graphic Design from Northumbria university, (UK) and is the creative brain behind self-titled studio ‘The Nutty Designer’. She has worked as Creative Group Head at an integrated advertising agency that championed cause marketing, and has been involved in change making projects such as helping local social enterprise Selyn build their unique brand identity, spearheading the agency creative team for the Southbank Women of the World Festival in Sri Lanka, designing creative material that further pushed the sustainability initiative by Keells supermarkets.

Dr. Maleen Jayasuriya

Head of Engineers, Project Adithi
Maleen Jayasuriya holds a PhD in Robotics from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) with a research focus on robot perception, localisation and AI. He is currently an academic at Curtin University Colombo Campus and the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. He co-founded the Digital Wellbeing Initiative (DWI), which is an organisation focused on helping Sri Lanka’s youth have a healthier relationship with technology. Maleen has also worked in theatre and filmmaking, music, VFX and game design.

Tarangee Mutucumarana‬

Operations
Tarangee is an Attorney at Law and a Barrister at Law of England and Wales. She holds a Master of Laws from the University of London in Criminal Justice and Criminology and various other postgraduate qualifications in the fields of women’s human rights, international criminal justice and forensic medicine and science from Universities in London and Colombo. While working as a Junior Defence Counsel in the chambers of a President’s Counsel, she also works as a junior counsel in family law, employment law and constitutional law with two senior practitioners. She is a member of the Arka Initiative, a Director at the Yeheliya Foundation, a Consultant for the Gender Justice Legal Network of Legal Action Worldwide, a Consultant at VOICE Amplified and enjoys working with several CSOs in the fields of women’s rights, youth empowerment and better political representation.

Dr. Kemalie Herath

Mentor and Head of Project Adithi
Dr Kemalie Herath currently working as a intern medical house officer at the teaching hospital kurunegala. She completed her MBBS at KDU. She has engaged in research involving neonates and has been involved in the field of gynaecology and obstetrics for 2years before starting her internship.

Tiffahny Hoole

Researcher and Operations /
Marketing & Sales, Project Adithi
Tiffahny is currently reading for her Attorney at Law examinations at the Sri Lanka Law College. She holds a LL.B. from the University of London and a Diploma in international relations from the Bandaranaike Center for International Studies. She is an assistant lecturer at the Royal Institute of Colombo and has also worked in several law firms in Colombo. She was a legal research intern at the Advocata Institute, where she co-authored a research report titled “Gender Discriminatory Labour Laws in Sri Lanka and Female Labour Force Participation”. She previously volunteered at Sisters-at-Law, an organisation assisting women and children in pro-bono cases.

Thyasha Dissanayake

Marketing /
Project Management, Project Adithi
Thyasha is a wealth planner, artist and student. She obtained her degree in Economics and Finance from the University of London, and has previously worked at IDS Next, Peddling Pictures, Exetel Communications (Pvt.) Ltd., Interglobe Travels and Cicra Consultancies on business development, content organization, client/project management, and sales.

Nayanthara Balapatabendi

Compliance and Project Management
Nayanthara Balapatabendi is an Attorney-at-Law presently prosecuting for the Attorney General’s Department. She holds an LL.B. from the University of London and a Master of Laws from the University of Colombo. She has previously worked at the Attorney General’s Department and as a Tutor in Equity and Trust Law at the University of London.

Francesca Mudannayake

Researcher
Francesca is a musician, model, and writer who graduated with a BA in Literature & Drama from Royal Holloway, University of London. She is currently a marketing assistant at LOVI Sarongs, and has worked as an arts critic, interviewing individuals such as Justine Picardie (former editor of Harper’s Bazaar) and director, Phyllida Lloyd.

Dr. Radhika Sundararaj

Mentor
Radhika is a Medical Officer of Mental Health, currently working in the Psychiatry Unit at Teaching Hospital Batticaloa. She graduated from Tianjin Medical Univeristy, P. R. China along with an internship at Tianjin General Hospital. Her previous appointments in Healthcare include an appointment at the Department of Molecular Biology at the Medical Research Institute, Borella and internship rotations in Paediatrics and Obstetrics & Gynecology at District General Hospital Negombo.

Sabreena Lahie

Product and Quality Management, Project Adithi
Sabreena Lahie is a chemist. She obtained her undergraduate and post graduate degrees in chemistry from University College London. She has worked in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry and has now started her own skincare line under the brand name Wabi Sabi Formulations

Asma Wazeer

Creative Design/Marketing, Project Adithi

Asma is a freelance designer/ illustrator with a background in marketing. She completed her postgraduate diploma in Marketing through the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK & Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing and also obtained her diploma in Fashion Designing at Lanka Institute of Fashion Technology, Sri Lanka. She has over 4 years of professional experience in the apparel industry as a fashion designer and marketing executive.

Manjaree Gamage-Brooker

Board Director, Bimputh Finance PLC and Daya Group of Companies.
Manjaree holds a BA. in economics from the University of Durham. She also has a MSc. in Management and Human Resources from the London School of Economics and is a member of the CIPD. Manjaree has worked for global giant Willis Towers-Watson in their London Office, before moving back to Sri Lanka to become an entrepreneur. She is the current CEO of Blue Diamonds Jewellery and has her own consulting and corporate training business, MGB Business Solutions, where she works with small-scale female entrepreneurs and corporates.

Amnah Joonoos

Management Lead

Amnah is an Economics and Languages undergrad at the University of Queensland. She is presently the management lead at Arka and implements and oversees Arka’s projects. She holds professional experience in finance, management and marketing.

Jithen De Silva

Head of Legal

Jithen De Silva is an Attorney-at-Law. He holds an LL.B. from the University of London. He has previously worked at the Attorney General’s Department and has interned at John Keells Holdings, Varners and other Chambers in Sri Lanka.

Umaya Gunasena

Head of Finance

Umaya is an Associate of the Actuaries Institute of Australia. She holds a Bachelors degree in Mathematics and Economics from the University of London and a Masters degree in Actuarial Science from Monash University, Australia.
She has worked in the Sri Lankan Life Insurance Industry and is currently engaged in several independent projects

Our Advisors

Dr. Suranga Hettipathirana

Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital

Dr. Hettipathirana is a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital Malabe. He previously was the Resident Obstetrician at Mahamodara hospital, Galle and a VOG at the District General Hospital, Matale. He was also a Senior Lecturer at the SAITM Medical Faculty.

Dr. Romesh Jayasinghe

Founder, Director, Institute of Mental Health Sri Lanka

Dr. Jayasinghe is a Professional Counselling Psycologist, Psychotherapist, Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, Certified Life Coach, educator and trainer. He is the founder / Director of IMH, Sri Lanka. He is also a senate member and the International Academic Dean and the Director of Behavioral Sciences, Sri Lanka at The Open International University for Complimentary Medicines (OIUCM) affiliated to Medicina Alternative. He has been appointed as an expert and an advisor to the United Nations University for Global Peace (UNUGP) in USA.

Dr. Eshani Wijesinghe

Senior House Officer, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, District General Hospital, Kalutara

Dr. Eshani Wijesinghe works as a Senior House Officer, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, District General Hospital, Kalutara. She is a graduate from Tianjin Medical University, P.R. China

Our Partners

We are currently in partnership with notable entities and brands both in Sri Lanka and overseas.

gallery-work-arka-07
Hemas, the Dilmah MJF Charitable Foundation, Sarvodaya and Arka, reaching underserved women in plantations.

We’ve had the privilege of partnering with diverse entities to advance our goals of reaching underserved communities

Selyn and Arka are in partnership in providing both awareness and reusable sanitary napkins across Sri Lanka.

Arka was the recipient of a grant from The Pad Project and This is L., in order to purchase Adithi’s sanitary pad machine. The Pad Project is the 2019 Academy Award Winner for Best Documentary Short, “Period. End of Sentence.,” and its mission is to create and cultivate local and global partnerships to end period stigma and to empower women and all menstruators worldwide.

This is L. is a B. Corp certified period care brand making products free from synthetic pesticides, dyes, and fragrances. For every purchase of L., one period care product is made accessible to someone around the world who needs it.