On April 16, 2013, Director of the Global Women’s Leadership Institute, Rangita de Silva de Alwis, was invited to  present at the 22nd Annual Daniel S. Sanders Peace and Social Justice Memorial lecture at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Her speech was titled “Malala: The Right to a Girls Education.”

Prior to her lecture, Dr. de Alwis had the opportunity to meet with PhD candidates at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana for an informal conversation to discuss her work in the field of international human rights, equality and non- discrimination, women and the law, and the rights of persons with disability. Following this, she was one of two guests on the University’s public radio shows, where she discussed the importance of girls’ education in a global context.  

The Sanders lectures are the highest honor given by the field of social work to persons or institutions working for peace and social justice.  Speakers have included Dr. Judith Ennew, Dr. Julian Burger, Larry Cox, Aruna Roy, Franklin Sonn, Robert Jay Lifton, Julian Bond, and Peter Edelman. Daniel Sanders, a native of Sri Lanka, was the dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois from January 1987 until his sudden and tragic death in October 1989. Dr. Sanders was interested in peace, international relations, and international social development.