Sri Lanka could increase GDP by bridging gender gap: official 

Sri Lanka has the potential to increase its GDP by 20 percent by closing the gender gap in its workforce, according to Amena Arif, Country Manager – Sri Lanka & Maldives of IFC.

Speaking at the fourth edition of the Sri Lanka Investment and Business Conclave organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Arif observed: “Gender inclusion in the country is very crucial. However, women tend to participate less in the labour market but when they do decide to work, they are more likely to be unemployed. Social norms related to woman households such as childcare and elderly care responsibilities restrict women’s participation in the labour market.”

Despite major improvements in the fields of education and health, women’s participation in the country’s workforce stands at a low 36 percent, which is substantially less than that of males.

Arif added that it is up to policy makers, the private sector and investors to ensure greater inclusiveness in the country.

Human development indicators have improved over the years, resulting in a strong human capital workforce. Sri Lanka has also been able to develop niche industries such as apparel and technology.

The focus now lies in amplifying this success across industries and sectors through increased female participation and contribution with Arif commenting that “our focus must be on better jobs rather than just on more jobs.”