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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

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‘Women labour force participation low in Lanka’



Dr Sher Verick and Prof Savithri Goonasekera.
Picture by Sumanachandra Ariyawansa

The labour force participation rate of women in Sri Lanka, has not only been low, but had fallen from 35.7 per cent in 2006 to 32.1 percent in 2010. This was revealed at a workshop organized by the ILO on Participation of women in the Sri Lankan labour force, which was held at the Galadari Hotel yesterday. Addressing the gathering, Director General, Employers Federation of Ceylon (EFC) Ravi Peiris, said there was plenty of potential in the BPO sector of the country, but the restrictions on night work in respect of women, had to be relaxed in order to open more opportunities for investors.

He further said that working arrangements in Sri Lanka, should be made more flexible so that it would enable women to enter employment not forgetting their family obligations.

Senior Employment Specialist ILO, Dr Sher Verick said that gender equality in the labour market was important for improving economic and social development and empowerment of women, but it was crucial to understand the trends and drives of outcomes for women in labour markets and it was very important to identify areas for policy action.

He said the female labour force participation indicates about utilization of labour and growth potential.

However, the rate of female participation in South Asia as a whole, was just 31.7 percent in 2010, compared to 66.9 percent in East Asia. Further more, women have a very low rate of labour force participation, compared to rates witnessed in other regions, which was driven by not only economic factors, but also cultural norms and structural barriers for participation.

The objective of the workshop was to review the study on female labour force participation in Sri Lanka and provide feed backs on the findings of the analysis and recommendations for the revision of the study and highlight key issues and policy responses to be taken forward by the ILO, government, trade unions and employer organizations., Prof Savithri Goonasekara, Emeritus Professor of Law chaired the morning session.

ILO Country Director for Sri Lanka, Donglin Li, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Labour Relations, U Wijeweera also spoke.

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