The GFS was established in 1904 by Rt. Rev. E. A. Coppleston, Bishop of Colombo, and branches were set up island wide. It was the first women's organization in the country's Anglican Church. The GFS headquarters was opened in June 1923 in the capital city, Colombo, and consists of office rooms and a Hall that is used for GFS programmes. The Hall is also hired out as a means of generating income to carry on the work of the Society.
As years went by, the GFS operated only in Colombo and continued to serve all women irrespective of race or religion. Today, the GFS has been revived in some parts of the island with the opening of branches in those locations.
A GFS Regional Office, with a Regional Coordinator, functions in Dickoya in the Central Province to serve upcountry GFS groups. GFS Coordinators work in other areas too. Membership consists of girls and women in adult groups and junior groups - "Pink Pearls" (teens & youth) and "Star Sapphires" (children).
The main service project of GFS Sri Lanka is the Hostel for working girls which since 1957 continues to meet a great need by providing safe, basic accommodation for girls coming into Colombo for the first time for employment. It is hoped to expand and develop these facilities in order to meet the increasing demand.
In 2017, Sri Lanka was awarded the GFS World Project for its "English for Employment Prospects" educational programme. This Course is conducted islandwide by a prestigious College and is specially designed to equip school leavers and young women in low paying jobs with basic English language skills to enhance their employment prospects. It is offered free of charge and funded by GFS worldwide.
In addition, GFS Sri Lanka conducts motivational programmes, workshops on personality development, good grooming, social ethics etc to raise the status of these girls and assist them achieve their full potential.
Regular programmes focus on Christian life, education, culture, health, environment, public awareness, assistance to the community especially women and children, fund raisers, fun and fellowship.
Due to the worldwide pandemic, programmes could not be conducted in the traditional manner. However, the GFS in Sri Lanka remained active by making good use of technology, specifically WhatsApp, to communicate with groups of members islandwide. GFS-produced short videos on interesting topics, monthly quizzes and weekly English lessons proved popular. Sunday sermons and Bible studies by members were encouraged, giving them an opportunity to use their talents. This initiative continues.
In order to improve women's access to secure livelihoods and economic resources, a community project was initiated to assist low income women in rural areas to market home-grown fresh produce and other home-made items to the city consumer at low cost.
Pink Pearls and Star Sapphires
Regional Office, Dickoya