Women-friendly work environment will help boost productivity | Sunday Observer

Women-friendly work environment will help boost productivity

Manique Gunaratne
Manique Gunaratne

Women with disabilities are not active in the economy due to lack of education, vocational training, cultural and family barriers. Only a small percentage of women with disabilities are economically active.

Changing the mindset of male workers towards their female counterparts and creating a women-friendly working environment is crucial to boost the female labour force participation in the country, Manager, Specialised Training and Disability Resource Centre of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) Manique Gunaratne said in an interview with the Sunday Observer.

Excerpts:

Q: The female labour force participation in Sri Lanka has been low and has not changed over time. According to the Department of Census and Statistics’ 2015 Labour Force Survey data of the working age population only 35.9 percent of females were engaged in the labour market compared to around 75 percent of males. Further, data reveals that the female labour force participation had slumped from around 41 percent in 2010 to around 35 percent in 2016. What are your views on this?

A: I agree that the female labour force participation in Sri Lanka is low due to the enormous challenges they face in society such as cultural and attitudinal barriers and over protection by the families.

Women are well educated and their productivity level is high. However, after marriage women tend to confine to homes due to family commitments. There should be a national program to attract women back to the world of work.

Q: Women in board rooms are too at a unsatisfactory level in Sri Lanka according to rankings. As a trainer what do you propose to rectify this scenario?

A: There should be more opportunities provided to women to display their skills and excel in the workplace. The male counterparts should not have any reservation about the work women could do. Women are more productive than men.

Q: What impediments do you see that stand as stumbling blocs to bring in more women to the work force?

A: There should be women-friendly working environment in the work place which is not the case in many offices. Changing the attitude of male workers towards female workers is vital to encourage more women to join the work force. Taking care of children and family commitments are impediments for married women to be employed. Providing day care and late working hour facilities are incentives to attract women to work.

Q: What policy measures do you think should be in place to increase female participation in Sri Lanka’s the labour market?

A: There should be a national policy that provides flexible working hours, part time employment and work from home to encourage more women to join the labour market. Women-friendly working environments in many developed countries have helped boost the productivity level of women. As a result the output levels of women have increased and economies have thrived.

A: Women with disabilities are not active in the economy due to lack of education, vocational training, cultural and family barriers. Only a small percentage of women with disabilities are economically active.

Q: As a trainer and one who has been in the forefront of empowering persons with disabilities how do you see their engagement in the work force?

A: The Network on Disability of the EFC has taken strides in the fields of ICT training, language and skills training and economic empowerment of such persons.

The ICT Training Centre of the EFC which was launched in 2009 with the support of the International Labour Organization is the nucleus of the Network on Disability.

Embracing the vision of ‘productive employment through social harmony’, its objective is to develop the employability skills of persons with diverse disabilities in the country making special considerations for women and girls with disabilities.

Q: What role does the EFC play in empowering person with disabilities to better their chances of securing employment to be self reliant and raise a family?

A: The training programs have benefited a large number of persons with diverse disabilities to date including school leavers, job seekers, undergraduates and those employed from all corners of the island.

The Training Centre fully equipped with devices and software specially designed for persons with disabilities collaborates with Curtin University of Technology in Australia and SLIIT (Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology) Malabe.

The programs are also recognized by the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission (TVEC) and within the EFC membership which consists of 680 plus companies.

The ICT Training Centre receiving the CISCO Academy status in 2014 is the latest feather in its cap.

“This is a milestone of the ICT Training Centre as it is the only training centre in the country which trains people with diverse disabilities in CISCO courses.

Recently up-graded EFC ICT Training and Disability Resource Centre with accessibility and modern technology assist persons with disabilities to receive the latest technology available and to be gainfully employed equally capable as persons with non-disabilities.

Q: What are the facilities offered by the employers’ Network on Disabilties?

A: The Network offers a broad spectrum of facilities including ICT Training, training persons with disabilities in job seeking and job keeping skills, soft skills, language skills and job placement.

We offer courses on Microsoft Word, Computer Concepts, Windows Operations, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Surfing the Internet, Software and Assistive Devices, Braille Printing, Safer Internet & Internet Ethics, Cisco Information Technology Essentials (ITE) and Cisco CCNA (Cisco Computer Network Associate).

Q: Could you name some of the areas covered by the ILO projects?

A: Job placement, ICT training, On-the-job training, Fostering family engagement,‘Community’ means everyone, Employer sensitization, Small business development and Vehicle modification to bring drivers with disabilities back to work are some of the areas covered by the ILO LEED project.

 

 

 

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