Gender equality is widely debated, highlighted and drawn into consideration over the past decades in a global strategic context. As it has been identified as one of the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations, countries working proportionately with the UN including Sri Lanka have adopted measures to abide in its economical and administrative conduct by giving prominence to women. Though the country as a whole believed Sri Lanka created a leap in history by creating the world’s first female head of state, gender inequality prevails even at this juncture of discussion. As the country’s population consists of a lesser proportion of women, female labour force participation simultaneously remains less than 35% since 2016 out of the economically active population. However, currently as per ADB report on Sri Lanka’s gender assessment, only 20% of women are unpaid family worker, whilst the rest of 45% generate incomes for their own through own account work and employment in public sector.

Reasons for Gender Inequality

As per ADB’s statistics on employed population by occupational groups, the majority of Sri Lankan women are employed in sectors with less earnings such as elementary occupations and skilled agriculture, forestry and fishery. A number less than 15% of the population are professionals and managers in the corporate culture. Moreover adding to it is the disparity between the wage rates for men and women. Under these conditions, the participation by women for active working population has been redundant as they consider their efforts are not equally rewarded as much as for women. Sri Lanka is a country that produces a higher literacy rate among women. Even via the school and university system, the performances of female are much higher. However, due to the social norms that are passed down through the psychological structure to female since their period spent with family, most of them decide to abandon career path considering it as a sacrifice for their family life and for the betterment of their children. It links the subject back to work-life balance where it is found minimal or in less percentages in a country like Sri Lanka, as the private sector is still on the process of converting its systems to flexible working hours.

Furthermore, women are given less prominence for participatory decision making in the top management of the corporate sector. Leading blue-chip companies of the country are mostly led by male CEO’s. Though a considerable number of female CEO’s are currently running prominent organisations in the country, yet there is more room for further involvement of female in senior management level. Sri Lanka is seeing an influx of business start-ups led by women and upper & middle class prioritizing career progression whilst balancing home and other life work.

Progressive statistics of female participation in high education have not displayed significant roles being acted in the corporate sector. Though private entities are working towards maintaining a balanced ratio of gender equity, and the economy as a whole yet lag behinds in allowing opportunities for middle-level female employment.

What’s the Role of Men towards Equality?

It’s based on the psychological aspect. I’ve personally come across through people expressively forwarding their discernment and discontent in working with women at the parallel level of work. Thus it portrays more than making efforts to create more opportunities for women, a small change in attitudes would organically allow them to seek and explore upon new ventures. Simultaneously, corporate culture needs to be amended in support of women career advancement and in creating a favourable working condition with minimal workplace harassment owing to the respect towards women. As we progress into International Women’s Day this week, many corporates would focus more and highlight gender equality for corporate reputational purposes, speaking about diversity and gender balance. Furthermore, they will go to the extent to honour and reward women working in their business corporations. However, we also could question whether such measures keep their motivation up and running till the next women’s day, instead, a continuous degree of respect and reward would assist in creating a more equal environment for women. Adopting measures to minimise workplace harassment women undergo on a daily basis adds more meaning for equality.

Overall the author would like to opinion out that giving prominence to women is a crucial consideration in the modern corporate culture as with them lies a hub of knowledge, creativity and innovation. Women support in bringing in new ideas and expansion for business operations, as they are psychologically enriched with arts, crafts, logic and humanness. Giving women more room to think out of the box and support in strategic decisions assist corporate reputation as a whole to be mapped as a net positive brand in the minds of the consumer. Hence maintaining a balance gender equality in businesses is not only a value addition for company annual reports but also a facet that uplifts corporate image. A corporation that treats women well and equally generates a positive corporate identity resulting in increased brand value.

Gender equality has surpassed in importance against all other requirements corporates struggle to attain on a day to day basis. The responsibility lies on the governing officials to empower women to shift from hard labour jobs that drain their energy to more value addition and thought-provoking professions which develop them in and out. Support from the private sector is as equally important in creating that pleasant environment in both corporate and societal level. Though we encounter trends of improvement and participation of women in the corporate culture author still believes a country like Sri Lanka that honour motherhood immensely has more capacity to leverage on that concept as a developmental phenomenon. After all, psychologically a nation or a human being that possesses deep driven roots attached to maternal care and respect for women would always reach greater heights bearing to the universal norm of good deeds because of a heart that respect mankind and especially women are as equal as a nation of peace. So, dear readers, over to you to think.

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