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Jayathma Wickramanayake, Social Entrepreneur, Jayathma Wickramanayake Biography,
Leadership Social Entrepreneur

Jayathma Wickramanayake: Championing Youth Voices on the Global Stage

Early Life and Education
Jayathma Wickramanayake was born on November 22, 1990, in the coastal town of Bentota, Sri Lanka. She pursued a bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Colombo, where she distinguished herself as the runner-up in a national competition organized by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Youth Affairs to identify emerging young leaders.

Jayathma Wickramanayake

Early Career and Youth Advocacy
Wickramanayake’s commitment to youth development began in her home country, Sri Lanka. She co-founded the youth organization Hashtag Generation, which focuses on enhancing civic and political engagement among Sri Lankan youth, particularly young women. Her leadership was further recognized when she became Sri Lanka’s first-ever Youth Delegate to the United Nations in 2012, participating in the United Nations 67th General Assembly.

Professional Milestones
After her tenure as Youth Delegate, Wickramanayake served as a member and youth lead negotiator of the International Youth Task Force for the World Youth Conference 2014. Her contributions were pivotal in shaping the conference’s agenda and proceedings, and she played a significant role in integrating youth perspectives into the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Wickramanayake was instrumental in establishing July 15 as World Youth Skills Day, a proposal accepted by the 69th UN General Assembly.

She continued her advocacy as a Senator in the Sri Lankan Youth Parliament (2013-2015) and as a Project Officer at the One-Text Initiative (OTI), which promotes political consensus and post-war reconciliation. Additionally, she served as Secretary to the Secretary-General of the Parliament of Sri Lanka (2016-2017) before joining the Sri Lanka Administrative Service.

Hashtag Generation
Wickramanayake’s initiative, Hashtag Generation, was founded with three other former Sri Lankan UN Youth Delegates. The organization aims to empower young people, particularly women, to engage in politics. One of its key projects, We Govern Sri Lanka, leverages ICT to boost women’s participation in politics.

United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth
In June 2017, Jayathma Wickramanayake was appointed as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth by António Guterres, succeeding Ahmad Alhendawi of Jordan. In this role, she focuses on enhancing youth engagement across the UN’s four main pillars: development, human rights, peace and security, and humanitarian action. Wickramanayake’s mission is to amplify young people’s voices in global processes and bring the UN closer to youth worldwide. She emphasizes the importance of viewing young people not as liabilities but as opportunities for proactive engagement in discussions at all levels.

Recognition and Influence
In November 2019, Wickramanayake was featured in Time magazine’s Next 100 list, highlighting her influence and potential as a global leader. In her capacity as the Envoy on Youth, she continues to advise and represent the United Nations Secretary-General, advocating for the interests and rights of young people globally.


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