Taking A Step Towards Shattering Stereotypes, Sri Lanka Gets Its First All-Female Surfing Club
- IWB Post
- April 13, 2019
In Arugam Bay Sri Lanka, local women are shattering stereotypes by creating a space for themselves by stepping into an activity where they were previously not welcome to take part in – surfing.
An all-female surf club has been set by the women to take up the sport which earlier had been male-dominated.
“No girls were surfing in the village at that time. My brother is the number one surfer in Sri Lanka and my father is also a good surfer. When my cousin taught me how to surf he said, ‘Shamali, I think you have surfing in your blood.’ Here in Sri Lanka, women stay home or go to school. Married women look after their husband and kids. People think only women tourists surf,” said the club’s president, Shamali Sanjaya.
It was eight years ago when Sanjaya learnt surfing from Tiffany Carothers-a California-based surfer who moved to Sri Lanka in 2011. Talking about Sanjaya, Carothers said, “Her brother was not keen on her surfing at all. To be one of the only woman out in the water, what that can do to a family and how that can make them look when you’re being different from all the other women in the village…I know he just wanted to protect his family and not get a bad name.”
But Sanjaya was not the only student of Carothers. Apart from her, she has also taught several other girls in the same village. Aragum Bay Surf Club became the first officially-registered female surf club in 2018. “I feel like the girls walk with their heads high, knowing that people will still have their negative opinions, but being proud of what they’ve achieved. They’re an example to other women in the country, proving that the impossible is possible and no matter how many barriers come up, they can achieve their dreams and their goals for women’s equality.”