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‘Sri Lanka below average in female workforce participation’

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Senior Lawyer and President’s Counsel Farzana Jameel echoed the sentiments of Lankan born Afdhel Aziz (author of ‘Good Is the New Cool’). Jameel noted that female involvement in the economy was imperative if there was to be a resurgence of growth following the COVID-19 pandemic. Jameel highlighted that women’s roles are increasingly becoming invisible and that women in the workforce have in most instances two full-time jobs when accounting for their family obligations.

Jameel was speaking on November 3 at the Cinnamon Grand Colombo. IFC Program Manager Women in Work Sri Lanka Sarah Twigg highlighted that Sri Lanka lagged the globe in female involvement in the labour market. She said that more than 2/3 of women of working age are not in the labour market. Globally less than half of women of working age are involved in the labour market. Twigg highlights that family expectations were a large limiting factor in the empowerment of women. Twigg’s research in Sri Lanka shows that over half of SMEs have faced problems with labour turnover due to the caring responsibilities of their staff. She highlighted that violence against women had increased due to the pandemic. IFC has worked with NDB and Standard Chartered to make their organisations EDGE certified. Standard Chartered Sri Lanka has been able to retain its entire post-pregnancy workforce by having generous maternal care leave that extends also to the male workforce. The IFC remains committed to creating a safer representative workplace culture. Research championed by Twigg indicated that companies that are more gender-inclusive tend to create more value and uplift communities, business partners, and nations.

The top ten winners of the awards went to AIA, CBL, Commercial Bank, DFCC, HNB Assurance, LOLC, London Stock Exchange Business Services, NSB, People’s Bank, and Seylan Bank. Honourable Mentions were awarded to Acuity Knowledge Partners, NDB, SDB, Bio Foods, and WNS Global Services.

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