Removing barriers to women’s paid work will encourage more Sri Lankan women to participate in the workforce, finds a new World Bank report.
Safe childcare and transportation, early orientation to career development to better prepare girls to enter and remain in the workforce and implementing gender equal labour laws and practices are among recommendations of the report.
The report ‘Getting to Work: Unlocking Women’s Potential in Sri Lanka’s Labour Force’ notes that despite steady economic growth, the number of women participating in Sri Lanka’s workforce has declined to 36 percent in 2016 from 41 percent in 2010. Sri Lankan women, especially younger ones, do not sufficiently acquire marketable skills, face higher unemployment rates, and can expect to receive lower wages than men.
“Getting women to work is not just about supporting human rights; it’s about smart economics,” said Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, the World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives. “Lifting the barriers to women’s participation in the workforce will not only help Sri Lanka realize its economic potential and build on its several achievements, it will also increase the equitable sharing of the development benefits.”
Getting to Work points to three factors that impede women’s participation in the paid workforce.
First, marriage, childrearing, and related household chores that fall disproportionately on women deter their participation in labor markets. Marriage drastically lowers women’s odds—by 26 percentage points—of becoming a paid employee, while for men it slightly increases the odds, by 2.5 percentage points. Second, women are not entering educational fields or acquiring the skills that are sought by employers, particularly in the private sector. Third, gender discrimination in job search, hiring, and promotion keeps women from obtaining high-skill and management jobs, where men continue to dominate.
Going forward, the report recommends multi-pronged strategies to help women gain employment and then continue to thrive in