Vivienne Goonewardene

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Vivienne Goonewardene
Junior Minister of Health
In office
Secretary of Home Affairs
In office
Member of the Ceylonese Parliament
for Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia Electoral District
In office
Preceded byS. de Silva Jayasinghe
Succeeded byS. de Silva Jayasinghe
Member of the Ceylonese Parliament
for Borella Electoral District
In office
Preceded byW. Danister de Silva
Succeeded byM. H. Mohamed
Member of the Ceylonese Parliament
for Colombo North Electoral District
In office
Preceded byCyril E. S. Perera
Succeeded byV. A. Sugathadasa
Personal details
Born(1916-09-18)18 September 1916
Died10 March 1996(1996-03-10) (aged 79)
Political partyLanka Sama Samaja Party
Spouse(s)Leslie Goonewardene
RelationsPhilip Gunawardena, Robert Gunawardena,

Violet Vivienne ("Vivi") Goonewardene (18 September 1916 – 3 October 1996), was a prominent Sri Lankan socialist, independence activist, feminist[1][2], Member of Parliament and Shadow-Cabinet Minister. Her ideas were shaped during the ‘Golden age’ of the Sri Lankan Left, and she was, in turn, one of its more colourful personalities[3]. She was also one of the main contributors to the Lanka Sama Samaja Party. She became one of the world's first female ministers[4] and for her struggle to gain independence for Sri Lanka[5], was made a National Hero of Sri Lanka

Born into an aristocratic family, Goonewardene was educated in Catholic, English-medium schools, but remained a Buddhist and spoke Sinhala and Hindi as well as English. During her time at school, and later on graduating, she continued her struggle for independence from the British colonialists.[6][7] While Goonewardene was fighting for independence, she and her husband (Leslie Goonewardene), fled to India where they formed the Bolshevik–Leninist Party of India, Ceylon and Burma, and she was an active member of the Quit India Movement, her work abroad led to the Independence of India in 1947 from Britain. When back in Sri Lanka, Goonewardene attempted to reform the former British Colony of Ceylon into a socialist republic by reforming industry, trade and the economic system.

She was a member of the municipal council of Colombo from 1950, and was elected to parliament three times: she represented Colombo North from 1956 to 1960, Borella in 1964–1965, and Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia from 1970 to 1977. She was married to Leslie Goonewardene, one of the founders of the Marxist Lanka Sama Samaja Party; Philip Gunawardena was her uncle.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ League for Peace and Freedom, Women's International (1995). "Women's International League for Peace and Freedom". University of California. Retrieved 20 October 2018. Background: Vivienne Goonewardena, a founding member of the Sri Lanka Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Section died after a sudden illness.
  2. ^ Vitarana, Tissa (17 September 2016). "A Role Model for Women Leaders: Vivienne". The Island.
  3. ^ Kiribamune, Sirima (1999). "Women and Politics in Sri Lanka". International Centre for Ethnic Studies. Retrieved 20 October 2018. Background:The recent death of Vivienne Goonewardena removed a very colourful and vibrant personality from the Sri Lankan political arena.
  4. ^ Walter Nanayakara (7 October 1996). "Vivienne paved the way for later historical women leaders". The Island. pp. 1, 2.
  5. ^ Daya Somasiri (8 October 1996). "Vivienne led many struggles on behalf of the downtrodden". The Times.
  6. ^ Pulsara Liyange (6 October 1996). "Vivie: the firebrand". The Sunday observer. p. 7.
  7. ^ Liyanage, Pulsara (1998). "Vivi: A Biography of Vivienne Goonewardena". Women's Education and Research Centre, Inc. Retrieved 20 October 2018. Background: Vivienne took to assisting Suriyamal sales while she was still at school at Musaeus College.
  8. ^ Charles A. Gunawardena (2006). Encyclopedia of Sri Lanka. Elgin, Il; Slough, Berkshire; New Delhi: New Dawn Press. ISBN 9781932705485.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]