Human rights activist Sandya Eknaligoda is among BBC’s 100 Women 2022, recognised among individuals such as the European Commission’s first female President Ursula von der Leyen, Yemeni lawyer Maeen Al-Obaidi, and Russian journalist Taisia Bekbulatova.
“I am a woman who fights on behalf of others at every opportunity, engages in creative struggle, and overcomes challenges amidst insults and slander through dedication and sacrifice,” Eknaligoda has said.
The BBC recognised her efforts in helping thousands of mothers and wives who lost loved ones during the civil war since the disappearance of her husband Prageeth Eknaligoda, who was a prominent investigative journalist and cartoonist who went missing in January 2010.
Regarding Sandya Eknaligoda, the BBC stated: “She accuses the supporters of Mahinda Rajapaksa, the former President of Sri Lanka, of being responsible for her husband’s abduction. While suspects have been identified, they have all been acquitted.”
The list comprises 100 inspiring and influential women from around the globe, and includes music phenomenon Billie Eilish, Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska, actresses Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Selma Blair, the “tsarina of Russian pop” Alla Pugacheva, Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi, record-breaking triple-jump athlete Yulimar Rojas, and Ghanaian author Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah.
This is the 10th season of the list, and BBC World Service Director and BBC News International Services Senior Controller Liliane Landor said: “In the tenth year of 100 Women, it is brilliant to see how the annual season has gone from strength to strength. I remember our launch and very first intake of 100 Women – little did we know how much the project would grow. I’m delighted to see the women featured on this year’s list. They, like all the women before them, have contributed to our world in incredible ways, and we celebrate this. This is about increasing visibility and giving recognition where it’s due.”
This year is also special because it marks the 90th anniversary of the BBC World Service and the centenary of the BBC, which is why the theme for the 100 Women 2022 is “progress”.
BBC stated that the list also reflects the role of women at the heart of conflict around the world in 2022 – from the protesters bravely demanding change in Iran, to the female faces of conflict and resistance in Ukraine and Russia. And for the first time, BBC asked previous 100 Women to nominate others who they felt deserved a place on the 2022 list.