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Women at workplace-gender sensitivity, work-life balance and empowerment

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Women at workplace-gender sensitivity, work-life balance and empowerment
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  Women at workplace- gender sensitivity, work-life balance andempowerment. M.T.R. Shamini Attanayake,irector,School of Social Work!ational "nstit#te of Social evelopmentSR" $A!%A "ntrod#ction Sri Lankan women are joining the labour force more and more with new openings inthe society shedding their traditional feminine role of raring and caring of children and leaving the conventional professional jobs such as nursing,teaching, and unskilled jobs in the sectors of agriculture, animal husbandry andplantation etc. Women's participation in the labour force has created someproblems and issues for workers in the work place that will hinder the growth of the organization as well as deteriorating the morale of female worker. oresolve such problems and issues, attending to gender sensitivity andempowering women is a must. his will help the female worker to balance her social life with work and contribute her share for the working place effectively.!mpowerment of women in the workplace means allowing women to have more opportunity their lives. "t means giving them the freedom to make their own schedules, learn new skills and gain self#reliance. !mpowerment is created when thestrengths that women already bring to the company are recognized and utilized. Sri Lanka has shown that businesses that promote women empowerment and gender e$uality are more profitable. %s more businesses take part in gender e$uality measures and see their revenue increase as a result, the case for empowering women in the workplace is likely to become a more recognized goal.he Sri Lankan government's &inistry of women %ffairs responsible for (ormulating, e)ecuting and regulating provisions and policies aligned to practices of good governance to ensure the rights of children and women by empowering socio#economic conditions, instilling values and ensuring participation through strategicintegration with all stakeholders leading to a dignified nation.Sri Lanka has a favourable gender ratio of over *+. -owever the participation of women in the elected democracy is low. Women are found in decision#makingpositions in all sectors, but their presence remains around *. &any sections of thecountry's population, including women, rural populations, marginalized andvulnerable groups do not participate in the election process or are left out, often dueto violence and unfair practices.!mpowerment of women, also referred to as gender empowerment has attainedprominence in mainstream development discourse. "t is a concept that has severaldifferent and inter#related components. !mpowerment has gained acceptance as a 1  process to effect an e$uitable distribution of power, in terms of inter#personalrelations and institutions.he internationally agreed &illennium evelopment /oals 0&/s1 underline theimportance of gender e$uality in attaining the goals in the areas of poverty, health,education, environment and development. 2romoting gender e$uality andempowering women 0/oal 31 and improving maternal health 0/oal *1 are among theeight &/s to be achieved by the year 45+*. !mpowering women through education has important implications for women6seconomic empowerment, access to information, knowledge and skills and decentand remunerative work. 7iewed in a wider sense, education enhances women6scapability to make choices, develops self#confidence, decision#making power andautonomy. !$ual access to a wide network of state schools, the provision of free primary,secondary and tertiary education and the importance attached to education at thehousehold level have made a notable impact on gender e$uity and overalleducational attainment. he high net primary school enrolment and completion ratesat 89 and gender parity in secondary education is reflected in the increase infemale literacy rates from 9:.3 in +893 to 85.; in 45+5.-owever, the disparities in the provision of educational facilities and services andsocio#economic constraints particularly in urban settlements, remote villages,plantations, and conflict#affected areas have resulted in pockets of educationaldeprivation. (or instance, female literacy rates in the <uwara !liya 0;5.+1,=atticaloa 0;+.31 and %mpara 0;:.41 districts compare unfavourably with theoverall literacy rates. &'#al (pport#nity and !on discrimination women more power and control in the workplace allows businesses to diversify decision#making, resulting in higher revenue. "n order to provide e$ual opportunity for women in the workplace, Sri Lanka Women recommends that employers ensure each employee receives e$ual compensation to that of other employees of similar rank, e)perience and tenure. he organization suggests implementing gender#sensitive recruiting practices and appointing women to management and board of directors positions. !mployment, viewed as a source of income generation and livelihood support, is aninstrument of empowerment, enhancing women6s autonomy, economicindependence and control over household resources. he growing number of  females entering the workforce rose from +,9*9,+99 in +88* to 4,59;,99: in 4555and 4,>9*,49* in 45+5. %ccording to the Sri Lanka Labour (orce Survey, in 45+5females accounted 33.> of the employed labour force, as against 35.8 in +88*. Labour force statistics disaggregated by occupation group indicate that the femaleworkers are concentrated in the following categories? 2  • Skilled agricultural and fishery workers 04>.*1 • !lementary occupations 044.:1 • @raft and related workers 04*.;1 • 2rofessionals 0+5.>1Less than 4 of the female work force is employed in the senior officials andmanagers category.  %n indicator of gender ine$uality in the labour market is the high femaleunemployment rate. he overall rate of unemployment for females in 45+5 0:.:1 isdouble that of the male unemployment rate. he incidence of unemployment is morepronounced among the educated group. he unemployment rate among femaleswith /@! 0%L1 and above $ualifications is +*.;, while the corresponding rate for males is considerably lower at :.8. % significant proportion 0*:.+ or +,>:5,5551 of the female work force is employed in the informal sector in a diverse range of activities particularly home#based industries, casual wage employment, in domesticand sub#contracted units. !mployment in the informal sector is characterized bylower wages, less favourable and e)ploitative working conditions. Women constitute the bulk of the work force in Sri Lanka6s three leading foreigne)change earners viz. garments, foreign remittances and tea, making a valuablecontribution to /2, balance of payments and overall economic development.-owever, they are employed at the lower end of the employment ladder as assemblyline operators, in overseas domestic service, and as plantation workers. he adverseworking conditions, se)ual abuse and e)ploitation faced by migrant workers haveemerged as a serious social issue. (urthermore, garment workers operating bothwithin and outside the !2As work long hours and under pressure to meet productiontargets for the e)port market. he foregoing depicts the une$ual status of Sri Lankan women in the employmentsphere#a situation that stands in sharp contrast to the impressive social indicators,particularly in health and education. "t is important to note that providing the femalework force with higher technical and managerial skills would increase women6saccess to productive and remunerative employment opportunities that would enablethem to move up to higher levels of employment and authority. he Sri Lanka emographic and -ealth Survey 0-S1 4559#5:, providesinformation specific to women6s empowerment in Sri Lanka. "nformation and datawas collected on women6s control over their own earnings and their participation inhousehold decision making. 3  he important findings of the survey with regard to women6s empowerment at theindividual and household level are outlined below? • &ore than 85 of the respondents contributed to decision making either singly or jointly with their husbands on the manner in which their income isused, while : were not involved in the decision making process. his is afeature common to both urban and rural areas. • he majority 0*:1 of the women with higher education $ualifications made joint decisions, while those with the lowest $ualification 0>51 made jointdecisions regarding the use of their income. • he husband6s control over the wife6s earnings was highest among womenwith no education 0+*.+1, as against women who have higher education03.81. he survey report concludes, B"n summary, women in Sri Lanka have considerablecontrol over decisions about spending their earnings. espite the fact that a largemajority earns less than their husbands, almost half of women have autonomy onspending decisions for their earningsCDimplying that women in Sri Lanka Bhave astrong degree of power in their homes on cash control for the well#being of their families.C Women in Asia he evolution and history of Women in Asia  coincide with the evolution and historyof  %sian continent itself. hey also correspond with the cultures that developedwithin the region. %sian women can be categorically grouped as women from the %sian sub regions of @entral %sia, !ast %sia, <orth %sia, South %sia, Southeast %sia, and Western %sia. Women in the workforce  earning wages or a salary are part of a modernphenomenon, one that developed at the same time as the growth of paidemployment for men, but women have been challenged by ine$uality in theworkforce. Entil modern times, legal and cultural practices, combined with the inertiaof longstanding religious and educational conventions, restricted women's entry andparticipation in the workforce. !conomic dependency upon men, and conse$uentlythe poor socio#economic status of women, have had the same impact, particularly asoccupations have become professionalized over the +8th and 45th centuries.Women's lack of access to higher education had effectively e)cluded them from thepractice of well#paid and high status occupations. !ntry of women into the higher professions like law and medicine was delayed in most countries due to women being denied entry to universities and $ualification for degrees. Women were largelylimited to low#paid and poor status occupations for most of the +8th and 45thcenturies, or earned less pay than men for doing the same work. -owever, throughthe 45th century, public perceptions of paid work shifted as the workforceincreasingly moved to office jobs that do not re$uire heavy labour, and women 4  increasingly ac$uired the higher education that led to better#compensated, longer#term careers rather than lower#skilled, shorter#term jobs but women are still at adisadvantage compared to men because motherhood. Women are viewed as theprimary caregiver to   children still to this day so their pay is lowered when they havechildren because businesses do not e)pect them to stay long after the birth.he increasing rates of women contributing in the work force has led to a more e$ualdisbursement of hours worked across the regions of the world. -owever, in western!uropean countries the nature of women's employment participation remainsmarkedly different from that of men. (or e)ample, few women are in continuous full#time employment after the birth of a first child. ue to the lack of childcare andbecause women in the =ritain lose 8 of their wage after their first child and +9after their second child. Festrictions on women's access to and participation in the workforce include thewage gap which in the some countries, women only make ;:.* of what a manmakes and the glass ceiling, ine$uities most identified with industrialized nations withnominal e$ual opportunity lawsG legal and cultural restrictions on access to education and jobs, ine$uities most identified with developing nationsG and une$ual access tocapital, variable but identified as a difficulty in both industrialized and developingnations. Women are prevented from achieving complete gender e$uality in theworkplace because of the Bideal#worker norm,C which Bdefines the committed worker as someone who works full#time and full force for forty years straight,C a situationdesigned for the male se). Women, in contrast, are still e)pected to fulfil thecaretaker role and take time off for domestic needs such as pregnancy and ill familymembers, preventing them from conforming to the Bideal#worker norm.C With thecurrent norm in place, women are forced to juggle full#time jobs and family care athome.  %lthough access to paying occupations 0the workforce1 has been and remainsune$ual in many occupations and places around the world, scholars sometimesdistinguish between work and paying work, including in their analysis a broader spectrum of labour such as uncompensated household work, childcare, eldercare,and family subsistence farming."n addition, modern civil rights law has fre$uently e)amined gender restrictions of access to a field of occupationG gender discrimination within a fieldG and gender harassment in particular workplaces. his body of law is called employmentdiscrimination law, and gender and race discrimination are the largest sub#sectionswithin the area. Laws specifically aimed at preventing discrimination against womenhave been passed in many countries.Women still contribute to their communities in many regions mainly throughagricultural work. "n Southern %sia, Western %sia, and %frica, only 45 of womenwork at paid non#agricultural jobs. Worldwide, women's rate of paid employmentoutside of agriculture grew to >+ by 455;. Hne of the main forms of paid employment for women worldwide is actually atraditional one, that of the market hawker. Women have worked outside the home 5
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