US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz – Pic by Upul Abeysekara
- Says countries must reflect female participation as matter of national economic security, social equity
- Harassment and discrimination at workplace, public transportation hinders women, constrains growth
- Outlines societal factors, poor policies, outdated laws, overt sexual harassment, discrimination as key barriers for active female economic participation
- Suggests creating enabling environment to empower women, allow professional growth
By Charumini de Silva
US Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz on Tuesday stressed women’s participation in the economy should be considered a matter of national economic security, as a prelude towards a more equal and inclusive development.
Delivering the keynote address at the ICSE International Women’s Conference 2019, the Ambassador said one consideration all countries should factor into their economic decision-making is the extent to which women participate in the economy.
“Women are a proven component of economic growth and yet in Sri Lanka, as in other countries, there remain barriers to their participation. This must change. It must change as a matter of national economic security. It must change as a matter of social equity and it must change as a prelude to a more equal and inclusive future,” she added.
She said identifying the barriers to the full inclusion of women in the economy will help remove them.
The Ambassador highlighted societal factors, poor policies, outdated laws and overt sexual harassment and discrimination as key barriers for women to actively engage and contribute to inclusive economic development.
Teplitz said harassment and discrimination hinders female economic participation, while in the bigger picture it also constrains economic growth.
“Harassment and discrimination that happens both in the workplace and on the way to work is an issue that taints Colombo’s public transportation schemes,” she stressed.
The Ambassador also pointed out that the solution to low female economic participation is not just to provide women with jobs, but rather creating an environment that empowers and allows professional growth.
“To create an enabling environment, we must eliminate the barriers that hold women back. This a matter of both national economic security and social equity. It is about global competitiveness and an inclusive future, where no one is left behind,” she said.