Olympic Council of Asia presents IOC award to Sri Lankan climberJayanthi Kuru-Utumpala

Colombo, May 11, 2024 – Sri Lankan climber Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala was presented with the IOC Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Champions Award for Asia at the 43rd OCA General Assembly in Bangkok on Saturday.

Jayanthi is a women’s rights activist with 20 years of experience and a rock climber/mountaineer for nearly as long.
She has worked at national, regional and global levels as a technical advisor, advocate, trainer, researcher and programme manager on issues relating to gender, gender-based violence, sexuality, masculinities, women’s human rights and, more recently, women in sports.

In 2016, Jayanthi became the first Sri Lankan to summit Mount Everest, and was included in the BBC’s list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world. Jayanthi works as an independent consultant and is currently the Gender and Human Rights Advisor at the Family Planning Association in Sri Lanka. She holds an MA in Gender Studies from the University of Sussex (UK) and a post graduate diploma in Women’s Studies from the University of Colombo.

On being announced as the IOC winner in Asia, Jayanthi said: “Thrilled and humbled to be awarded the International Olympic Committee’s 2023 Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Champions Award for Asia.

“Encouraging women and girls to engage in sport and challenge gender stereotypes is a cause close to me. Together with friends we have created a safe and non-judgmental space to do so over the past five years through rock climbing workshops for women and girls.”

Jayanthi thanked “a village of friends and volunteers” for helping her in this mission, and for their contribution to her IOC champions award.

Thank you to the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka for nominating me for this award,” she concluded.

The IOC presents this award – formerly known as the Women and Sport Awards – annually to all five continental associations, as well as a World award, and this year selected Jayanthi as the Asia winner.

“Your amazing work focusing on using climbing as a tool to include women and girls in sport set your candidature apart and made you the clear choice for this award,” the IOC said.