The Covid-19 pandemic is an opportunity to strengthen women’s economic empowerment in Sri Lanka
Author: Avindi Perera
When the Covid-19 pandemic struck Sri Lanka, women faced some of its most severe and unforeseen impacts. The pandemic exposed deep, structural inequalities that exist within our social and economic systems. A total of 61 percent of the country’s working women are in informal employment, where livelihoods were hit faster and harder by the pandemic and measures to control it. The pandemic has posed a threat not only to livelihoods from inadequate social protection systems, but also to women’s security as violence against women has increased in the country.
As endorsed by the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on ‘Women, Peace and Security’, women play an essential role in peace and security activities, including in accelerating economic revitalization in the aftermath of conflict and emergency situations such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Economic empowerment of women not only contributes to more peaceful and resilient societies but also protects women from issues such as domestic violence. Applying a ‘Women, Peace and Security’ lens to response therefore provides valuable guidance on the fundamental need for women’s rights and women’s leadership to be at the forefront of recovery.
To support these efforts, UN Women and the government are working together to support women to start their own businesses, through training ranging from financial literacy to business planning. The initiative is being carried out as part of the project titled ‘Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Sri Lanka’ with the State Ministry of Women and Child Development, Pre-Schools & Primary Education, School Infrastructure & Education Services, and with support from the Government of Japan. By providing targeted capacity building and in-kind support for women affected by the pandemic, these efforts ensure that women and girls in Sri Lanka are economically empowered and resilient in the face of crises, now and in the future.
Understanding women’s socio-economic needs and priorities is the first step towards an inclusive recovery process.