The Ministry of Women’s and Child Affairs announced moves to promote foreign employment opportunities in Europe and Asia in a bid to cut down the numbers flying off to the Middle East seeking greener pastures.

The Ministry recently proclaimed the formulation of a national policy and plan on 1.2 million female-headed households in the country.

The majority are in the North and East, Batticaloa, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu (over 100,000) and in Colombo, Kurunegala and Kandy while the situation is the same in Badulla, Anuradhapura and Hambantota.

The plantation and estate sectors too are caught up in the scenario. Jayasinghe said that there was a lack of female participation in the economy with only 35% of the labour force attributed to women.

Day-care centres are to be established at the village level to allow mothers to be employed outside the homes and thereby productively contribute.

“With regard to foreign employment, widows in particular seek to work overseas due to the lack of a source of income. We plan to provide jobs locally and also through the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment to send women who want to go overseas to Europe, Singapore and South Korea instead of the Middle East,” Jayasinghe said.