Activist Award

Activist Award Recipient, Cheryl Perera

Cheryl Perera is an award-winning children’s rights advocate, social entrepreneur and acclaimed public speaker.

She is the Founder and President of OneChild, the first organization in the world empowering children and youth to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children, through education, advocacy, rehabilitation and reintegration, benefiting over 35,000 individuals in 15 countries. Her career in child protection began at age 17, after playing the main role of the decoy in a STING operation with Sri Lankan authorities to apprehend a child sex perpetrator. Today, her career spans over a decade where she has investigated child sex tourism (CST) cases; lobbied across private, public, and civil society organizations to increase action against CST legislation; and provided shelter and long-term comprehensive care to hundreds of victims in Asia.

Ms Perera is a Policy and Advocacy Fellow at CARE USA, focusing on U.S. Government advocacy on child marriage; and a former youth advocate for both the UN Global Education First Initiative and the Global Partnership for Education, lobbying policy makers to prioritize education in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Previously, she worked for WE, training/mentoring thousands on child rights advocacy.

A sought-after speaker/trainer, Ms Perera has shared the stage with former UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon and Nobel Peace Prize Recipients Malala Yousafzai, and Kailash Satyarthi, addressing over 64,000 individuals in 13 countries.

Ms Perera is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2016 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader; 2017 L’Oreal Canada Women of Worth Award; 2006 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100; 2006 World of Children Founder’s Award; and 2005 Canada’s Top 20 Under 20.

Learn more about Cheryl Perera and her views on women in leadership