Uva Provincial Council
Columbo, Sri Lanka
Senarath Attanayake was the first wheelchair user in Sri Lanka to be called to the Bar as an attorney and one of few to attend a Sri Lankan University. Without receiving special consideration or accommodation for his disability, he became an elected member of the Uva Provincial Council as the Minister of Agriculture, Land, Forestry, Irrigation and Livestock, where he has served for over 17 years—making him one of the longest serving elected politicians with a disability in the world. In recognition for his achievements, he was appointed as an advisor on political participation of people with disabilities by the Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI), a cross-disability organization with assemblies in 154 countries.
Before his current term on the Council ends in 2018, Senarath aims to achieve “universal accessibility” in his electorate, Moneragala—a poverty-stricken region in Sri Lanka. On an international level, his goal is to encourage people with disabilities to engage in politics and help shape policy in their local communities.
“I believe in the power of people, and I believe that people with disabilities should have the opportunity to participate fully in public life and contribute towards democratic change. I believe that people with disabilities should be provided the opportunity to engage in the political process and exercise their power to influence change.”
– Senarath Attanayake