Sunimalee Madurawala

Sri Lanka’s Gender-based Employment Segregation: Does it Increase Women’s Vulnerability Amidst COVID-19?

COVID-19 has created a crisis that has disproportionately affected women across the globe. Estimates show that women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable than men’s jobs, and while women make up 39% of global employment, they account for 54% of overall job losses. While many factors affect the vulnerability of women’s employment during the pandemic, existing gender gaps in the labour market, women’s employment share in highly-affected sectors, the ability to telecommute and the amount of unpaid care work carried out by women have been identified as the main determinants. Against this backdrop, this blog examines women’s vulnerability in the Sri Lankan labour market due to the sector they are employed in. It also looks at gender-based employment segregation – a key factor behind women’s overrepresentation in certain industries and underrepresentation in others – and proposes policy measures to address this imbalance.

Social Perceptions on the Role of Women Must Change

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of people across the world but not everyone has been affected in the same way. In most contexts, women and girls are disproportionately impacted, and girls and women pay a higher social and economic toll. This is mainly because of their relatively disadvantaged situation, and distinct social obligations and responsibilities. The pandemic has already derailed progress made towards achieving gender equality (SDG5). The labour market, health, education, nutrition and food security, and safety are some of those areas facing setbacks due to the pandemic. The negative impacts can be expected to widen (i.e., more individuals are affected) and deepen (i.e. the conditions of some individuals worsen) the already unfavourable situation.

Sri Lanka’s Tobacco-Smoking Challenge: Going the Last Mile

While Sri Lanka has made notable strides in recent times to reduce the overall smoking rate, smoking continues to remain a significant health threat. A challenge for Sri Lanka now is to identify the groups where smoking prevalence is highly concentrated – referred to as ‘Last Mile Smokers’ (LMS) – and implement policy measures that are specifically designed to reduce smoking among LMS.

COVID-19, Work from Home, and Female Labour Force Participation: A Lesson for Sri Lanka

This blog discusses key challenges Sri Lanka faces when adopting working-from-home (WFH) as a solution to the country’s low female labour force participation (FLFP) and proposes policy solutions to overcome them. It is based on IPS’ forthcoming ‘Sri-Lanka: State of the Economy 2020’ report on ‘Pandemics and Disruptions: Reviving Sri Lanka’s Economy COVID-19 and Beyond’.

Smoking in the Time of Corona: Why Limiting Smoking is Important in the Battle against COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has already claimed thousands of lives worldwide. As expected with any respiratory illness, there is clear evidence that smokers are much more vulnerable to COVID-19 than non-smokers. This blog discusses how smokers can make the crisis worse and provides short term policy recommendations that can help control the spread of the disease in Sri Lanka. In particular, the blog makes a compelling case for imposing a temporary ban on cigarette sales in Sri Lanka.

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