By Zahara Zuhair
There should be a paradigm shift to attract more women for unconventional jobs, but for that proper legislations and policies should be introduced to keep them secure in their respective professions, the first female mayor elect for Colombo, Rosy Senanayake, told at an event in Colombo this week.
“Women still have conventional thoughts about where women should be—whether it’s in market place, work place or home. So we need to move away from this, we need to go for a paradigm shift, there should be change of mindset and attitudes,” she said.
Senanayake made these remarks addressing a Women’s Day event organised by Tourism Development and Christian Affairs Ministry and Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority on Wednesday.
Referring to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s ambitious target of increasing female participation in the labour force up to 40 percent by 2020 from the current 35 percent, she said that it is an achievable target. However, it is important to look at the gaps and drawbacks in order to achieve this, she stressed.
“I must say new policies and labour laws should enable women to be engaged, be it in the tourism or any other industry. First bring in policies, change laws, make it more flexible for women to get engaged,” she said.
While stressing women should be engaged in operational level jobs as well, she said there has to be programmes for capacity building, leadership training and so on.
“There is a whole array of things the government and the private sector together should do to engage women,” she said.
She said since women represent the majority of the population, there should be fair representation for them in every sector at every level.
Senanayake, who is also the former ‘Mrs. World’ said women should come forward and break norms and barriers, and commended the women who have already excelled in their respective professions.
She noted it is the women who bring the most dollars to the country.
“If you look at the top three industries which bring foreign revenue, all three industries are dominated by women. It’s they who go oversees and bring the currency, and then apparel and agriculture sectors,” she said.
“Financing is one of the biggest stumbling block for women, for that we need to have easy financing schemes,” she added.
Talking about her experience in politics, the biggest stumbling blocks for a woman to become a politician are being a woman, customs, norms and attitudes,” she said.