Articles

The Right to Work: women, men and gendered labour
By:- Tehani Ariyaratne, South Asia Women’s Fund

It is no secret that the Sri Lankan economy is being carried on the backs of women, not just those who engage in low paid, insecure, informal sector work, but those who create the enabling environment for others to work – the mothers, grandmothers, sisters, unmarried daughters who do the bulk of the care work – the cooking, cleaning, child care, elder care – only to be classified as “unemployed” in the labour force statistics. This gender division of labour and larger gender discrimination runs deep through our society, propped up by the archaic notions that women are biologically more suited to bring up children, more capable of house work, and better at managing household finances. It also leads to an instrumental view of a woman – a tool which nurtures and protects children, provides direct access to sex for the husband, and maintains the harmony of the household. Within this pretty picture, the woman as an individual with rights, dignity, ambition, dreams and needs of her own, is ignored.

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