Kusum Athukorala, the new GWP SAS Chairperson is well-known to GWP since its inception due to her contributions as a member of the GWP’s first Global Steering Committee in 1995. Since then, her affiliation continued with GWP as a Regional Council Member of GWP SAS and the Chair of GWP Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka Water Partnership) on several occasions. In addition to water governance, she played a key role in promoting gender equity and inclusion within GWP at all levels.
She holds an MSc. in Managing Rural Change from Imperial College of University of London. She had previously worked as a university teacher in languages, cultural and development studies and later decided to move her career discipline to water resources management. As a multidisciplinary and multiskilled professional, she has been recognised for her work for several times. She received the International Women in Water Award in 2012 awarded by International Water Association and the Zonta Woman of Achievement for Environment in 2014. She introduces herself as a researcher, advocate, and an activist.
Kusum has pioneered in gender and water studies in Sri Lanka and continues to promote a gendered approach in water programmes. She held several responsible positions at national, regional, and international boards related to Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM). She has spent most of her time of the past two decades to establish and to grow institutes such as GWP Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka Water Partnership), Saci WATERS, Women for Water Partnership and Network of Women Water Professionals (NetWwater). She is also an Australia Awards alumna.
Kusum promotes climate related advocacy among Sri Lankan community, especially among women and believes on multi-stakeholder engagement on IWRM. Her multicultural approach is being highly recognised as a best approach by the national and international water agencies as water does not have boundaries and not consider ethnicity. Kusum is currently engaged with a range of ground level issues in the country including water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in schools, disaster risk reduction (DRR) and impact of sandmining on ecosystems.
On this International Women’s Day 2022, we are proud to announce our 2nd Female Chair. Let us further share how she expressed her willingness to work as the GWP SAS Chairperson using her own words “Water security is one of the priorities of my life, only second to promoting gender equity. In this water journey, GWP has a special room in my heart, because the strong network is geared towards making the planet a water secure place. Therefore, on this International Women’s Day 2022, I call upon all South Asians to join hands to Break the Bias and to develop a Water Secure South Asia”