Long time ago, (at least it seems like that to me now!) there was a page in a small paper that I used to always look forward to reading. It was the “Problem Page” of the Lanka Woman paper, compiled by Mrs. Anne Abeysekara. The first of its kind to deal honestly and openly with sexual and relationship issues and the advice, suggestions and information offered there were of a kind that any growing up, young girl could read and make use of without any danger of being led on a “garden path”.
Words - Lakmini Wijemanne
Forty years ago, on another February month, that was, on 8th February 1984, LANKA WOMAN was born in the press at Wijeya Newspapers. The Founder Editor of the paper was Mrs. Clare Seneviratne. At the time when Mr. Ranjith Wijewardene was getting ready to publish a women’s weekly paper, he picked Mrs. Seneviratne to head the team at Lanka Woman, who was then the Editor of the Women’s pages of the Ceylon Daily News. For the next 20 years, Mrs. Seneviratne made sure that the paper was on the news-stands right on time every Wednesday morning for its loyal and avid readers. Starting at a price of 2.50, it was the only paper dedicated to the needs of women bringing them news and views of a multitude of subjects that are close to the feminine hearts. It was not a time when problems of a more sensitive and personal nature were discussed openly. Yet, under the editorship of Mrs. Seneviratne, the paper carried its Problem Page by Anne Abeysekera which turned out to be a font of information to the young women of the country who , most times, did not know whom to turn to, for their personal problems. When I say that the Lanka Woman pioneered in opening doors in many different areas of interest to women of this country, I would not be wrong. Mrs Seneviratne was a force behind the initial success of the paper as she made sure, that the paper soon went on to garner a widely spread, loyal fan base of avid readers, who remain loyal todate, to this very special publication.
Over the years, Lanka Woman underwent a few changes at its helm. When Mrs. Seneviratne retired, the Editorship changed hands and Ms. Angela Seneviratne became the editor from 2005 till Februrary 2006. By this time, the Management wanted a face-change to the paper. They decided that it was going to become a monthly, glossy publication. To take the Lanka Woman paper to a glossy new beginning, Ms. Kshalini Nonis was brought in to head the editorial team as the Editor. So, it was in 2006 that the new Lanka Woman made an entrance as a glossy, slimmer, monthly magazine. I am today happy to remember that I was fortunate to start my writing career with that new, glossy monthly Lanka Woman magazine! Its been 19 very satisfying years for me with Lanka Woman! However, the glossy, slim version of the Lanka Woman was quite short-lived! It stayed in that format only from 15th March 2006 to September 2006. A newer, more elegant version of the magazine, more in par with international women’s magazines was going to make its appearance on the news-stands.
On November 2006, a bigger version of the magazine was launched with a brand new logo in the form of a very feminine bright red “LW” with our very own trail-blazing female entrepreneur Otara Gunawardene on the cover. This version of the magazine was a fat magazine, loaded with pages full of various topics of interest to our feminine population. It had segments dedicated to beauty, health, relationships, gardening, home-making, cooking, baking to games and events bringing to our readers, a month full of reading matter, specially curated to the loyal readers of Lanka Woman. The logo changed, but, the essence of the paper/magazine that Clare Seneviratne first infused it with was still very much the heart and soul of the magazine. By the year 2007, a new editor took to the helm of the LW, and Shehara Rajapaksha who was the then Deputy Editor, became the Editor. For the next 11 years, Shehara worked hard to take LW to newer and brighter heights. As well as many new writers, she also introduced many new features to enhance the page-worthiness of the magazine. Many new office procedures to the efficient running of the LW office were introduced. She made sure that her writers were given direction and guidance as well as free rein to creativity in order to write articles which also took the readership to new heights as we catered to the new millennials. She created a friendly and easy atmosphere in the office and when we did go to the office for our monthly editorial meetings, it was a very convivial togetherness where many new ideas for the forthcoming issues were bandied about and hatched, to make sure that our loyal readers were not disappointed! In 2018 January, with a new editor – Indika Sellahewa - it was time for the magazine to undergo another change in its name. It once again reverted back to its original name – LANKA WOMAN. Under the new editor, the magazine reached new heights! Literally!! It was introduced to the Sri Lankan Airlines on-air passengers for the first time. New faces, new writing skills and new talents were introduced to the magazine staff to make the magazine shine even more.
Over the last 40 years, through the pages of the Lanka Woman, we have introduced to the readership, many female iconic figures in the country, celebrating their very special talents which most positively have enriched our culture, commerce, leadership and many more spheres. We have always been a force supporting women of our country who have worked hard to be successful in their chosen fields. If not for Lanka Woman, some of these personalities would never have been heard of even, as a number of them had been from very remote areas, who, with their indomitable strength have overcome all obstacles to shine in their own fields. LANKA WOMAN always worked hard to be a voice and a face to the known as well as the less-known female figures in the country who had contributed to the growth of the country in many ways. The magazine has and will work hard as always to make sure, its pages are worthy of its readership. It has steadfastly managed to provide articles on many different topics which gets specially curated to provide a more substantial and an interesting reading experience to our readers. It is birthday celebrations to our beloved LANKA WOMAN! May it grow stronger, and more beautiful !!
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