Factors Affecting Women’s Labour Force Participation in Sri Lanka

Female labour force participation rate in Sri Lanka has remained at a low rate, between 30–35 per cent in the past two decades, which is surprising given the consistently high educational attainment levels and other social indicators of women in the country. While research has focused on the supply-side factors that have kept female labour force participation rate at low levels, data on demand-side constraints is sparse. This study aims to identify those demand-side constraints through direct data from key players.

Based on the likely constraints to demand for female labour identified in available literature, Key Person Interviews were carried out of selected employers in the formal private sector to ascertain the views of employers on the identified constraints and experiences in addressing those and other constraints. Due to the difficulties of obtaining access, the employers/representatives who have been interviewed are those who agreed to participate in the study; it is therefore not a survey of a representative sample of employers in Sri Lanka. The analysis of the interviews will provide recommendations for policy makers and is also intended to provide the basis for a sample survey of employers in the private sector in Sri Lanka at a later date to expand and test the findings of this study