Sri Lanka needs to look at ways to address, the lower female participation in the labor force and the under employment of the educated women, to get maximum contribution to the national economy, a senior economist said.

“Sri Lanka needs to create more suitable employment opportunities for women,” Executive Director of Institute of Policy Studies Saman Kelegama said at a recent forum.

“Especially providing flexible working hours, working from home on contract basis are all areas that need to be considered,”
“Giving better skill for women in areas like IT, nursing and the hospitality industry should be looked at too.”

Women represent approximately 57 percent of the total estimated population of 21 million in the Indian Ocean Island, but only 33.4 percent, contributes to the national economy from 8.5 million of economically active population in the county, data showed. Thus, almost 70 percent of the labor force constitutes economically inactive women.

This is in spite of the fact that in most university courses, including management, law and liberal arts, the numbers of women outnumber men and large proportions of women attend management and accounts training programs offered by private educational institutes.

“If you look at the undergraduate level the share of females is at 60 percent but this is not reflected in the employment levels or the labor force,” Kelegama said.

“Employment to population ratio is only 30 percent females and labor force participation is around 30 – 35 percent and the unemployment rate in females is 6.6 percent compared to 3.2 percent in males,”

“Now this is a cause for concern and this rate is low compared to some of the other developing countries.”