The decision by the Cabinet to partially lift the Family Background Report (FBR) requirement for female migrants is long overdue and a welcome move to promote female labour migration from Sri Lanka. The FBR policy was introduced in June 2013 to restrict females with children under the age of five and to discourage females with older children from taking up foreign employment. The FBR initially covered only female domestic worker departures but in August 2015, this was expanded to cover all females. As a result, from 2013 onwards the dominance of women among worker departures declined significantly. The partial removal of this discriminatory requirement is likely to increase female departures by enabling women to decide independent of their maternal status while minimising delays and vulnerability in the recruitment process. However, to reap the desired outcome of more remittances, the new stock of females departing for foreign employment in the absence of the FBR must be convinced to remit through formal channels.
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.
The impact of COVID-19 on Sri Lanka’s labour market, education, migration, and health sectors were discussed at the second webinar panel discussion held on October 13, to mark the release of the ‘Sri Lanka: State of the Economy 2021’ report, the flagship report of the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS). The event saw presentations by Dr Nisha Arunatilake and Dr Bilesha Weeraratne from IPS, with expert insights from Ms Madhavie Gunawardena, Director of TRCSL and Former Commissioner of Labour and Dr Kolitha Wickramage, Global Migration Health Research and Epidemiology Coordinator, Migration Health Division, International Organization for Migration (IOM). Ashani Abayasekera from IPS moderated the discussion. Key highlights of the discussion are presented in this blog.
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.
The types of challenges faced by women engaging in night and shift work can be very different from the challenges faced by those doing regular jobs. Many of the studies that look at increasing the labour force participation of females do not take into account the nature of available jobs and the specific challenges faced by women doing different types of jobs. A recent IPS study examined the work satisfaction and career objectives of such women as well as the challenges faced by them.The types of challenges faced by women engaging in night and shift work can be very different from the challenges faced by those doing regular jobs. Many of the studies that look at increasing the labour force participation of females do not take into account the nature of available jobs and the specific challenges faced by women doing different types of jobs. A recent IPS study examined the work satisfaction and career objectives of such women as well as the challenges faced by them.