Neela Marikkar has more than 20 years of experience in advertising, promotions, and public relations and is the managing director of Grant McCann-Erickson, a member of the international network McCann Erickson Worldwide, USA. She is also is president of Sri Lanka First, a powerful group of business leaders that advocates for a negotiated settlement between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. She and others founded the group following a devastating terrorist attack on the country's international airport in July 2001. Ms. Marikkar coordinated Sri Lanka First's campaign to educate civil society about the human and economic costs of the 20-year war.
Ms. Marikkar's peace-building activities include:
- organizing the September 19, 2001 "Stand for Peace," when more than one million Sri Lankans across the country left their homes and offices to stand and hold hands for peace at midday, clearly demonstrating their desire for an end to the conflict and pressuring political leaders to put aside their own agendas and begin negotiations (a government campaigning on a peace platform came to power soon afterward);
- serving as a consultant to the UN Development Programme initiative "Invest in Peace," which promotes foreign investment for peace and development in Sri Lanka, most recently security $4.5 billion from 51 countries for the country's post-conflict reconstruction;
- developing educational campaigns to create awareness about the peace process and keep civil society committed to it, including TV programs that educate Sri Lankan citizens on the causes of the conflict and issues that will undoubtedly arise during the peace process;
- spearheading a bicommunal meeting organized by Sri Lanka First for some 100 members of the diaspora in New York City; and
- participating in a meeting of representatives of Sri Lankan women's organizations to make recommendations regarding women, conflict, and the peace process and prepare a memorandum calling for the inclusion of women in negotiations.
Last Updated: Nov 29, 2012