Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)

Getting more women into labour force


An economic advisor to the Finance Ministry recently suggested that subsidized maternity leave and investment­s in day care centres could increase female labour force participat­ion and persuade companies to hire more women.

“If we do things like say subsidize for maternity leave, invest in day care centres and one of the key things is investing in public transport, to ensure females have safety and comfort when going in public transport – all of these things contribute,” Deshal de Mel said.

He noted that other countries have seen success with such initiative­s and that most companies in Sri Lanka are unwilling to hire females due to their child-rearing potential.

“I think that’s one of the biggest constraint­s that companies see when they hire people. This person is 25 years old, she’s going to have kids in the next five to six years, we will invest in her training and then she’s going to leave,” de Mel explained. However, companies in other countries even give provisions for paternity leave, showing a higher respect for cultivatin­g children. Meanwhile, de Mel also noted that approximat­ely 60 percent of Sri Lankan graduates are women. Female labour force participat­ion however was 37.6 percent in 1Q17, up slightly from 36.3 percent YOY.

“So we have invested a lot in terms of educating our population but a lot of them are not working beyond a certain point,” de Mel said. Further, the DCS figures showed that in terms of education level, the highest unemployme­nt rate was among those who have achieved GCE A/L and above, at 7.8 percent, with female unemployme­nt rate in the category at 10.8 percent.

Overall, the female unemployme­nt rate too was also higher in 1Q17 with 6.5 percent compared to 2.7 percent among males.

The effect was pronounced in the 25-29 age group, where 15.5 percent of females were unemployed, compared to approximat­ely 3.9 percent males (although the DCS warns about the accuracy of the latter figure), and to a lesser extent in the 15-24 age group, where 23.1 percent of females were unemployed compared to 15.6 percent of males.

Meanwhile, approximat­ely 5.32 million females were classified as economical­ly inactive, although some economists argue that a key reason for such classifica­tion, raising children and being a housewife, should also be considered as being economical­ly active.

In comparison, just 1.79 million males were economical­ly inactive. Many undertakin­g studies and training are also considered as economical­ly inactive, since labour statistics are measured among individual­s above the age of 15.

 ??  ?? Deshal de Mel
Deshal de Mel

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