Skills for Inclusive Growth prioritises economic opportunities for women.
The program supports women to access vocational education and training aligned to skills gaps in the tourism sector and opportunities for self employment.
By developing their technical skills and business management capacity, women can access new livelihood opportunities, increase their incomes and improve the living standards of their families. Australia’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy informs gender inclusive development across the program.
Women and Employment
Despite Sri Lanka’s steady economic growth, the World Bank reports that the number of women participating in the workforce declined to 36% in 2016, down from 41% in 2010. Women own only 8% of small-scale enterprises and 5% of large scale enterprises.
In Trincomalee and Batticaloa, only 20% of people currently in paid employment are women. In Polonnaruwa and Ampara, fewer than 14% of people in paid employment are women. Women are more likely to be employed on a casual basis, which increases the risk of job insecurity.
Research undertaken by Skills for Inclusive Growth shows that between 35 and 51% of business owners in program districts would be open to employing more women. However, many recognise that employing women challenges cultural norms. The research also found that families have concerns about the suitability of tourism jobs for young women and the lack of flexibility for women working in tourism sector.
Supporting women’s economic development
Skills for Inclusive Growth supports the participation of women across the program.
The program seeks to broaden the base of training providers able to provide skills development to women. New skills programs, developed through the Skills Development Fund, are context specific. This ensures that training is accessible to even the most disadvantaged women (such as those from women-headed households) who cannot participate in traditional TVET programs.
Skills for Inclusive Growth is working with women’s organisations, government departments and the private sector to remove barriers for women’s participation in the tourism sector and related industries.
By working in close collaboration with the tourism industry, Skills for inclusive Growth ensures that skills development offerings align with economic demand. The program will also engage private sector mentors and coaches who can support women to establish small businesses and find employment.
Organisations with innovative ideas for gender-inclusive training and pathways to support women enter the tourism sector should consider applying to the Skills Development Fund.
Women and young people living in Ampara, Batticaloa, Polonnaruwa and Trincomalee with an interest in careers in the tourism sector should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.