The Former Mrs. World is a Mayor

Feb/25/2023 / by Swarnendu Biswas
Rosy Senanayake
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Bernadine Rose Senanayake, popularly known as Rosy Senanayake, is a politician from Sri Lanka. She is presently the Mayor of Colombo; the first female to become the Mayor of Colombo in the one hundred-and-fifty years history of the Colombo Municipal Council. This achievement of hers should be an important feature in the biography of Rosy Senanayake.

But what is more interesting that besides being a prominent political personality of the presently economically ravaged island nation, she is a former beauty pageant winner (won the Mrs. World title in 1984) and an activist.

She has attracted renown as an advocate for women’s and children’s rights in Sri Lanka and campaigned against domestic violence and violence against women.

Winning Crowns

Born on 5th January 1958, in Colombo – the executive and judicial capital of Sri Lanka –Rosy Senanayake is an alumna of Embilipitiya Maha Vidyalaya and Ferguson High School, Ratnapura, Sri Lanka. The age of Rosy Senanayake is 64 years.

While exploring about Rosy Senanayake, we can come to know that she did experience her initial success in beauty pageants. She became Miss Sri Lanka in 1980 and competed in the Miss World 1980 as Miss Sri Lanka.

The lady, having a superb amalgamation of beauty and brains, also won the Miss Asia Pacific International title in 1981. The next year, she got married to renowned entrepreneur from Sri Lanka, Athula Senanayake. Two years later she won the Mrs. World title, which was the inaugural edition of that pageant.

However, she never let those crowns and adulation accompanied with them weigh her down with complacency. She made a smooth transition from the world of glamour to public service. In fact, since her winning the Mrs. World title, Rosy Senanayake took much interest in promoting the rights of women and adolescents in Sri Lanka.

Revered Positions

She was appointed as United Nations Population Fund Goodwill Ambassador for Sri Lanka in 1998. In that capacity, she played a role in promoting reproductive health services for workers, especially for the migrant women workers in Sri Lanka’s Free Trade Zone through the National Youth Services Council.

She also started a campaign with the private sector in Sri Lanka to provide reproductive health services to the private sector employees.

Soon she emerged as a force to reckon with in the public life of Sri Lanka. Just four years later, in 2002, she was appointed to the august position of the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Malaysia. She remained in that position until 2004.

Her Political Ascent

After some years, she was playing important role in active politics, which needs to be highlighted in the biography of Rosy Senanayake. She said in an interview in Daily Mirror in the last year that being people-centric, kind, compassionate and empathetic will allow you to make a positive impact on the lives of the individuals you lead.

 In 2009, she was elected to the Western Provincial Council by obtaining 80,884 votes. From there she served as the Leader of the Opposition till she got elected as a Member of Parliament for Colombo district in 2010. She raised important issues in Parliament, such as violence against women and children, and raised concern on socio-cultural and socio-economic problems affecting her country.

She eventually rose to great heights in the politics of Sri Lanka. The beauty queen turned activist and political figure did serve as the State Minister for Child Affairs during 12th January-17th August 2015, and following that tenure was appointed as the Deputy Head of the Prime Minister’s Office and the spokesperson of the then PM of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickramasinghe. She served in those positions from 15th September 2015 -19th March 2018.

In an interview with Daily Mirror, she acknowledged that winning the Mrs. World title did help her in her political career.  “Success in politics is rooted in publicity, and the Mrs. World title gave me the recognition and publicity I needed. Furthermore, the global work I did during my tenure as Mrs. World, taught me how to be an activist,” she said in the interview.

The Sensitive Leader

She was elected and appointed as the Mayor of Colombo; a position that she continues to have till date. She assumed the office of Mayor on 19th March 2018. As a Mayor Rosy Senanayake till now has a fairly productive tenure. During the Covid-19 phase, when livelihood of millions and millions of people were badly affected, she was instrumental in distributing 50,000 parcels of dry rations to families across Colombo whose livelihood were significantly affected by the pandemic.

As Mayor of Colombo, Rosy Senanayake has been playing an active role in the development of Colombo’s tourism.

Despite personal tragedies of losing her husband and one of her two daughters to death, she is striding strongly in her vision to make a better tomorrow for the women of Sri Lanka, which include gender equity in politics.

Those who are interested in knowing the networth of Rosy Senanayake, it may be told that according to the networth of Rosy Senanayake is approximately $1.5 million.


When did Rosy Senanayake start her political career?

One can say her beingelected to the Western Provincial Council in 2009 marks the beginning of her active political career.

Who is Rosy Senanayake’s husband?

Her husband wasAthula Senanayake, who was a prominent hotelier. He passed away in 2020. He was only 64 when he died.

What is Rosy Senanayake’s qualification?

She did her schooling fromEmbilipitiya Maha Vidyalaya and Ferguson High School, Ratnapura, Sri Lanka. There is no news in public domain about her higher education degrees.


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