Improving Pandemic Responses to Reduce Adverse Health Effects on Women Workers in Sri Lanka’s Export Sector

International research demonstrates that the pandemic disproportionately affected two crucial aspects relating to the well-being of female workers: income and health. As such, the impact and recovery from the pandemic will likely be uneven and gender unequal. In general, the over-representation of women in hard-hit sectors explains the pandemic’s disproportionate burden on female workers. In the Sri Lankan context, key export sectors in both products and services are dominated by women. For example, around 78% of the workforce in the garment industry are women. With the pandemic-induced economic crisis, the importance of the ready-made garment industry in generating foreign currency revenue has become even more critical. Thus, many readymade garment factories functioned during the national lockdowns, disproportionately exposing the female labour force to the pandemic’s impacts. In this backdrop, this study aims to design a pandemic response protocol and influence regulatory policies to improve workplace conditions to enhance resilience to health impacts.

Research team

Dr Nisha Arunatilake
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Dr Asanka Wijesinghe
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Dr Erandathie Pathiraja
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Dr Lakmini Fernando
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Mr R. H. W. A. Kumarasiri (External Consultant)


International Development Research Centre (IDRC)