November 30, 2021

A multifaceted approach needed to counter gender-discriminatory labour laws in Sri Lanka

1 min read

Sri Lanka’s gender discriminatory laws must be looked at both from a practical as well as a bottom-up approach, Minister of Justice, M U M. Ali Sabry said.

“Having rigid laws is going to be counterproductive and can have negative consequences on the female labour force” he pointed out in joining the The Advocata Institute’s  Panel discussion on “Gender discriminatory labour laws in Sri Lanka” in Colombo last week.

He also identified the need toto look at social and cultural issues at the same time that go beyond the law.

Verite Research, Deputy Head of Legal Research, Malsarini De Silva stressed the immediate need to understand the serious underlying issues preventing women from entering the workforce as the the number of women employed in the labour sector has remained constant at a rate of 30% to 35% for the past 3 decades.

For example, regulatory barriers such as the Family Background Report (FBR) illustrate ample evidence of negative discrimination, that disincentives women from entering the workforce.

De Silva said that it has had a serious negative consequence on female migrant workers,  where “ women are made more vulnerable to become victims of human trafficking when their FBR does not get approved”. 

She further said that while this regulation was introduced with the intention of protecting the children of female migrant workers, it has had dire consequences in the long run. Thereby shedding light on the fact that bringing in regulations, is simply not an answer to solving an issue of this magnitude.  

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