Chiranthi Senanayake

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Chiranthi  Senanayake

Chiranthi is an LLM student in International Economic Law, Justice and Development at Birkbeck, University of London, currently writing her master’s dissertation on the relationship between legal development and national sustainable development in postcolonial countries.

As an Attorney-at-Law from Sri Lanka, her ultimate aim is to become a leading thinker and writer on the symbiotic relationship between global sustainable development and legal development.

As an undergraduate, Chiranthi studied three separate degree courses in parallel at leading institutions in Sri Lanka. During weekdays she juggled two full-time courses (a BA at the University of Colombo and her Attorney-at-Law studies at Sri Lanka Law College), while at the weekend she studied for an LLB via the University of London’s International Programme. At the same time, she established the Youth Legal Professionals Association of Sri Lanka (YLPASL) – an association of law students, LLB holders and Attorneys-at-Law under 40 years of age who seek to protect the rule of law and promote an ethical legal practice.

Alongside her academic and legal activity, Chiranthi’s second interest is in mainstreaming Youth Empowerment Incubation as an alternative approach to youth development. At fourteen years old, she spent time working at a rehabilitation centre for former LTTE female child soldiers in the war-torn district of Mullativu, as a member of a student group working alongside the Sri Lankan Army to conduct development workshops for youth affected by the civil war. This experience ignited her passion for youth development. Since then, she has volunteered with several youth-centred movements and also founded Hype Sri Lanka, the country's first Youth Empowerment Incubator. 

Chiranthi’s achievements have been widely recognised. For her community service, she was appointed the United Nations Youth Delegate for Sri Lanka in 2016, representing Sri Lanka at the Third General Assembly Session in New York. In 2020, she was selected as a Women Deliver Young Leader and a Diana Award winner for her work on empowering youth. Academically, she was awarded the prestigious Chevening Scholarship in 2020 by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), and and her work has been selected to be published in the Junior Bar Law Journal of Sri Lanka.

If Chiranthi wins the Global Student Prize, she will use the funds to carry out a vocational education project in Sri Lanka that has been three years in the planning. “Women Lead Walauwatta” will be a pilot project aimed at unemployed female household heads in a poverty-stricken area of Colombo. Forbidden by their husbands from working in the formal sector to supplement the family income, housewives in Walauwatta are seeking vocational training and skills to begin small-scale home industries. Therefore, Chiranthi would like to start an Online Vocational Training Academy (OVTA) for unemployed women seeking training and entrepreneurial skills.