Cheryl Perera is an award-winning children’s rights advocate, and acclaimed public speaker.
She is the Founder and President of OneChild, the first organization in the world empowering children and youth to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children, through education, advocacy, rehabilitation and reintegration, benefiting 35, 000+ in 15 countries. Her career in child protection began at age 17, after playing the main role of the decoy in a STING operation with Sri Lankan authorities to apprehend a child sex perpetrator. Today, her career spans over a decade where she has investigated child sex tourism (CST) cases; lobbied across private, public, and civil society organizations to increase action against CST legislation; and provided shelter and long-term comprehensive care to hundreds of victims in Asia.
Cheryl is a Policy and Advocacy Fellow at CARE USA, focusing on U.S. Government advocacy on child marriage; and a former youth advocate for both the UN Global Education First Initiative and the Global Partnership for Education, lobbying policy makers to prioritize education in the post -2015 development agenda. Previously, she worked for Free the Children and Me to We, training/mentoring thousands on child rights advocacy.
At 17, Cheryl earned herself an offer of a placement as the Sri Lankan President’s Nominee on Child Protection. A sought-after speaker/trainer, Cheryl has shared the stage with former UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon and Nobel Peace Prize Recipients Malala Yousafzai, and Kailash Satyarthi, addressing 63, 000+ in 13 countries. She is an adjudicator for the Global Teacher Prize; World of Children Youth Award; and Plan Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 Program. She is currently authoring a novel on CSEC.
Cheryl is the recipient of many awards including the 2016 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader; 2017 L’Oreal Canada Women of Worth Award; 2006 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100; 2006 World of Children Founder’s Award; and 2005 Canada’s Top 20 Under 20.
She studied Ethics, Society, and Law at the University of Toronto; Peace and Conflict Resolution at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand; and is completing a Masters in Advanced Studies in Children’s Rights at the University of Geneva. In 2016 and 2017, Cheryl completed Executive Education on Transformational Leader and Public Policy in the 21st Century at the University of Oxford and Harvard University.