The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will provide technical assistance to strengthen the Gender Action Plan (GAP) for Colombo Light Rail, towards making it the first woman-friendly public transport system in Sri Lanka.
The memorandum for this assistance was signed between the Secretary of the Ministry of Megapolis & Western Development and Chief Representative of JICA Sri Lanka Office on September 10. The Colombo Light Rail from Malabe to Fort is financed under JICA’s concessionary loan scheme.
The line has a total length of approximately 16 km. During peak hours a train with 800 passenger capacity will be operated every two to three minutes. Travel time from Malabe to Fort will be approximately 30 minutes.
The technical assistance is provided on a grant basis to supplement and enhance the project impacts and outreach. Currently, there is a significant disparity in opportunities for women in construction and transport operation related fields in Sri Lanka. Also, the prevalence of sexual harassment in public transport hinders the mobility of women impacting their engagement in the formal workforce. Opening employment opportunities to women with the Colombo Light Rail has the potential to address both issues and contribute to the economic growth of Sri Lanka.
The gender action plan for the project includes measures from design, implementation and operation stages. This includes the inclusive design of rolling stock and facilities for the safety and comfort of passengers and employees, measures to prevent sexual harassment, and integration of gender mainstreaming in operation and organisational management.
“Since the Equal Employment Opportunity Act in 1987, Japan has been introducing new laws to equalise employment opportunities for women. Japanese railway operators are complementing this with policies and facilities to increase female staff at all levels. This is benefitting the railway operators with increased productivity, and revenue from an increase of women passengers. In turn, women’s participation in economic activity is increasing and contributing to the overall growth in Japan. We hope that developing and implementing a strong gender action plan for the Colombo Light Rail will bring similar benefits to Sri Lanka” explained Fusato Tanaka, Chief Representative of JICA Sri Lanka Office.