UNDP and SLTDA to support female entrepreneurs | Sunday Observer

UNDP and SLTDA to support female entrepreneurs

11 October, 2020
Tourism authorities in Provincial Councils have been asked to  identify women engaged in the tourism sector and women who have already  registered with the SLTDA will also be considered
Tourism authorities in Provincial Councils have been asked to identify women engaged in the tourism sector and women who have already registered with the SLTDA will also be considered

With the outbreak of Covid-19, Sri Lanka’s tourism industry was one of the worst affected.

A rapid assessment undertaken by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has found that women were disproportionately impacted during this period as 67% among those who lost their jobs were female workers.

The UNDP and SLTDA with financial assistance from Citi, are developing a livelihood support mechanism for female entrepreneurs, with a focus on women unable to access livelihood support services to revive their businesses. A meeting in this regard was held last week.

The project will engage Provincial Councils to identify the women entrepreneurs to sustain the efforts of the initiative. The program is in-line with the UN framework for the immediate socio-economic response to Covid-19 that calls on countries to build for the future.

The Government has made significant progress in initiating early relief measures to businesses, however, as women make up a majority of the segment of unregistered (informal) service providers in Sri Lanka, this has posed a set of problems as informality translates into low wages, precarious working conditions and the absence of social protection. Coupled with an increase in unpaid work and care burdens during the pandemic, female workers face barriers in accessing these services.

Resident Representative of UNDP in Sri Lanka, Robert Juhkam said, “Building resilient social protection systems that help informal sector workers to withstand shocks are a critical element of Covid-19 responses. Supporting female workers affected by the crisis is a vital component to ensuring that no one is left behind in Sri Lanka’s socio-economic recovery efforts. This is direct relief and recovery, and the initiative will test new approaches to inform future social protection policy thinking.”

Chairperson of SLTDA, Kimarli Fernando said, “The program will directly support 900 women from all the Provinces. Project initiatives will benefit at least 3,500 men and women indirectly throughout the country. This will be a grant and it will be a relief to the affected parties. Tourism authorities in Provincial Councils have been asked to identify women engaged in the tourism sector and women who have already registered with the SLTDA will also be considered.

“Selection of beneficiaries will be by a panel and it will be a transparent process. Each beneficiary will get assistance valued at around Rs. 50,000. The selected women will receive business development services to enhance their skills for alternative livelihood development.

“A system will be set up to support them to use the grant for developing a complimentary livelihood with the support of the provincial tourism authorities. Female entrepreneurs will be further supported to obtain business registration with SLTDA, enabling them access to livelihood support from the Government in the future.”

Citi Country Officer in Sri Lanka, Ravin Basnayake said, “Citi again pledges its unwavering commitment to serve the local community to fight the pandemic. We are proud of our partnership with the UNDP and the SLTDA on this timely initiative that also demonstrates our shared commitment to women’s economic empowerment. We will continue to demonstrate Citi’s values through our philanthropy to make a difference to those in need.”

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