The current female labour force participation in Sri Lanka is around 36 percent. This means that a disproportionate majority of women still remain outside the labour market, with limited or no access to wages, pensions and other benefits tied to gainful employment.
Evidence largely points to several constraints that effectively limit women’s participation in the labour force – ranging from outdated legislation to the lack of access to vocational training and also due to cultural barriers. It is increasingly evident that social and cultural factors play a defining role in determining women’s inclusion in the labour market.
Given that Sri Lanka is short of blue collar workers, increasing women’s access to employment is necessary to increase the female participation in the labour force. A multiple stakeholder group recently set up at national level to look at providing greater access for women to the labour market recommended that the government set itself a goal of increasing the female labour force participation to 40 percent by 2020.
The ultimate goal of socio-economic development is to improve people’s quality of life dependent on access to the basic needs such as food, safe drinking water, shelter, clothing, education and healthcare. An important factor that determines these dimensions of quality of life is income – usually measured in terms of the per capita income, which is equivalent to gross domestic product (GDP) divided by population. Money is not everything but one could also argue that money is needed to buy everything to fill the basket of basic needs listed above. Hence, GDP growth is an essential ingredient for socio-economic development.
One of my clients – a leader of a medium-sized growing company – was emotionally agitated about the future of his company. I allowed him a little time to vent his anxiety and then I reminded him how great leaders look at the future, how they create a vision and values and how they create targets based on where they’re going.
But when times are tough, I told him, a great leader takes out from the vault a gift given to him: the gift of being present.
The uncertainty of his current situation meant he could actually take the time to slow down and pay more attention to the present moment and the things he needed to do – helping him make better decisions that would, in turn, have a good effect on his future.
I said: “Being present in the moment does not mean you act without direction in the future. The gift of being present requires intention and practice to carry out new action for the future.”
If you too are a hard-working leader, life is sometimes overshadowed by challenging events. My advice is – pause and pay deep attention to what is happening in the given moment. Be a witness:
Do not allow your thoughts to stray but instead learn to focus completely on what you are feeling in the moment. Focus and concentrate on getting things done one thing at a time.