First Steering Committee Meeting of the IPS Study on “Improving the Pandemic Policy Responses to Reduce Adverse Health Effects on Women Workers in Sri Lanka’s Ready-made Apparel Industry”
25 April 2023
The initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of a well-designed COVID-19 pandemic response protocol to minimise the economic and health impact of the pandemic. The Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS), in partnership with the University of Ottawa and the Department of National Planning of Sri Lanka, is conducting research on the impact of the pandemic on female workers in the ready-made garment industry of Sri Lanka. The study aims to (1) develop a pandemic response protocol that can minimise the negative impact of the pandemic on the health and economic conditions of female workers in the industry and (2) incorporate the mechanism into the national development policy in collaboration with the National Planning Department.
To achieve this, a steering committee has been established, consisting of representatives from various groups, including trade unions, women’s rights groups, government ministries, and employer groups (Joint Apparel Association Forum/JAAF). The committee will provide guidance to ensure that the pandemic response mechanism developed by the research is feasible, practical, and ready to be incorporated into national policies. The lead researcher of the study, IPS Research Fellow Dr Asanka Wijesinghe, explained the policy impact of the study which includes developing better working conditions, increased female representation in decision-making processes, effective retention programs during health shocks, access to better accommodation, and better response mechanisms during health shocks.
The first meeting of the steering committee was held in a hybrid mode, with various stakeholders in attendance. The primary goal of the meeting was to initiate collaboration between the research team and the committee members, seek guidance on the project plan and its execution, and ensure that the research outcomes are considered by policymakers. Ultimately, the study aims to produce a gender-transformative, financially feasible, and operationally practical pandemic response protocol that can effectively mitigate the negative impact of future pandemics on female workers in the ready-made garment industry of Sri Lanka.