Supporting Women’s Association of Pageantry (SWAP), an association with the objective of ensuring fair play and supporting women who are involved in the arena of beauty pageantry was established recently. The co-founders of SWAP are Bernedette Weerasinghe, former journalist and fashion designer Thamali Jayaweera.
Both were participants in the Mrs. Sri Lanka World 2020 and their experience in the pageantry industry inspired the launch of SWAP in support of women who have been unfairly treated in beauty pageants in Sri Lanka.
The association is affiliated with the International Association of Pageantry (IAOP), a US based organization that functions as a self-regulating ethics and regulatory body for the pageant industry, working tirelessly towards establishing fairness and integrity within the industry. Thus, the collaboration of the two associations is sure to facilitate fair treatment and empowerment of women in this industry.
Commenting on forming of SWAP, co-founder Bernedette Weerasinghe stated, “As a former journalist in Sri Lanka and in the UK, I believe in the importance of women’s empowerment. Motivated by my personal experience in a recent beauty pageant, I decided to make a change in this profession.
We are delighted to be affiliated with IAOP and are looking forward to working with the Sri Lankan representative. We will also reach out to national directors to uphold ethics, transparency and fair play in the pageantry industry.”
The objectives of SWAP include ensuring fair opportunities for all beauty pageant contestants in Sri Lanka, upholding international standards in pageantry, improving the reputation of the Sri Lankan Pageant Industry and overall, making the industry a safer place for contestants.
SWAP will also ensure that all the pageants will have an audit firm, promote ethics within the Sri Lankan Pageant Industry while educating all the National Directors and Pageant Committee, and ensure that all pageants are SWAP-certified as well as affiliated with an international body.
SWAP prioritizes and aims at enforcing complete transparency for pageants in Sri Lanka. It will work as a monitoring body from the auditions stage till the final curtain, upholding the Code of Ethics and United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5) to empower women and girls.
In the event that any misconduct takes place, SWAP will undertake their own investigation and disposition of procedure and bring negative reports and complaints to the forefront in order to maintain transparency. They will also participate in the vetting of judges, transparency in handling of prize money and the protection of sponsors throughout the pageants.
Adding further, Thamali Jayaweera commented on the pageantry industry saying “Pageants are events that require focus on ethics and creating opportunities. As a woman entrepreneur and as a participant of recent pageants I highly believe everybody needs a transparent, ethical platform to showcase their potential. That is the key to selecting a good candidate to represent a nation while bringing more value to the country. Having a fair, unbiased stage is essential when it comes to pageantry.
We are looking forward to working towards the betterment of the pageant industry through SWAP, which is a foundation to assure ethics in pageantry which will in turn benefit both participants and organizers of pageants. At the same time, we are delighted to join hands with IAOP as the most recognized non-profitable international organization which regulates the standards of pageants.”