With the introduction of Aswesuma as a brand-new initiative targeting the poor and vulnerable, social protection in Sri Lanka has been a much-debated subject lately. Aswesuma primarily intends to overcome some key weaknesses of existing social protection programmes – at least on paper – but several challenges prevail. However, opinions regarding its capabilities to accomplish this remain ambiguous. The public has been protesting the scheme, and opposition party critics have called it an unfair political gimmick. Initially scheduled for disbursement in July 2023, the benefits for July finally commenced disbursement last Monday (28th August) for 800,000 beneficiaries. This blog delves into the key areas that warrant clarification, with the hope that authorities will address these concerns transparently.
Technology plays an important role in modern society. It connects, innovates, and transforms economies and societies at large. Yet, women and girls continue to have limited access to technology. This gender bias is also present in Sri Lanka, where women comprise of over 50% of the population.
This year, the United Nations marks International Women’s Day with the theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, focusing on the digital gender gap’s impact on widening socio-economic inequalities. This blog explores the factors hindering Sri Lankan women’s access to technology and discusses some ways to overcome them.
World Food Day is observed on 16 October to promote awareness and action to ensure regular access to nutritious food for all. This year’s theme is ‘Leave NO ONE Behind’. Global disruptions including COVID-19, the climate crisis and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, have impacted food supplies worldwide. However, Sri Lanka’s food insecurity is largely a result of the prevailing economic crisis coupled with short-sighted policies enforced by local policymakers, with the burden being highest on the poor and vulnerable. The overnight ban on chemical fertiliser imports has been costly and generated a lower harvest. Although the ban has since been reversed, it continues to have ripple effects on the food system. The blog examines Sri Lanka’s struggle to safeguard food and nutrition security amidst the ongoing economic crisis and outlines policy steps to tackle the challenge.
Empty supermarket shelves, endless queues to buy essentials and overnight camping around fuel stations are now regular sights in Sri Lanka. As the economy continues to plummet with no viable short-term solutions in sight, levels of frustration among the citizens continue to rise. The country’s worst economic crisis since independence has battered Sri Lankans from all walks of life but the fallouts are impacting the poor with greater intensity. If urgent measures are not taken to support the most vulnerable at this time, more Sri Lankans will slip into poverty thus increasing intergenerational poverty in the long term. This blog identifies some of the most pressing challenges faced by the poor and vulnerable amidst the prevailing crisis and outlines policy options to safeguard their well-being.
Although Sri Lanka elected the world’s first female Prime Minister in 1960, over six decades later, the country’s political arena continues to be male-dominated. Sri Lanka currently ranks at 179 out of 189 countries for the percentage of women in national parliaments. This is far below the country’s South Asian counterparts. Women represent over 52% of the country’s population, yet men continue to play a dominant role in the national legislature. Insufficient female representation is a prominent weakness in Sri Lanka’s political landscape. The 2019 Presidential Election recorded the highest number of contestants in a Sri Lankan presidential election. Of the 35 presidential candidates, only one was female. With an overwhelming majority of the current administration being male, the current share of female members of parliament stands as low as 5.33%. This blog explores the gender disparities in Sri Lankan policymaking and outlines actionable steps to increase the share of women in politics.