Thursday, May 31, 2012

Women continue to bear the burden despite many hardships

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” ~ Margaret Mead, (Anthropologist, December 16 1901 ~ November 15 1978)

Women are becoming the breadwinners in most of our societies, although many of us fail to acknowledge it. They equally work hard like men. But, most of the times they are paid less than men, because they are women! The population of women in Sri Lanka is 50.8% of the total population of 21.3 million.

The latest Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2009/10 (HIES) estimates that out of 5 million households, in Sri Lanka, 1.1 million households or 23 % of the households are female heads of the households. The majority of female heads of the households are in the age group of 40~59 years. Among the total female heads of the households, in Sri Lanka, more than 50% are widows while a small percentage (4.5%) has reported as never married (again).

The war in Sri Lanka was officially brought to an end in May 2009. There are more than 40,000 widows in the Northern Province including 26,340 in Jaffna District according to Centre for Women and Development. There are 42,565 war widows in the Eastern Province according to the Child Development and Women's Affairs Ministry .Their husbands were either killed or disappeared during the conflict in Sri Lanka.

"I got married early and my husband was killed during the last phase of the war in May 2009. I have three children. The existing social structure among the Tamil community prevents me from remarrying!" I am struggling to fulfill the needs of my children single handedly. Daily, I am challenged with a lot of issues including continuing social stigma of being a “widow” and discrimination attached to it. There is no support for me” shares a young Tamil widow in the North of Sri Lanka.

Adequate livelihood programmes should be introduced to war widows

Nearly 450,000 workers are employed in the garment industry which amounts to 52% of exports from Sri Lanka. There are women who work in traditional (tea and rubber) and non ~ traditional (garments and housemaids) sectors in Sri Lanka according to the Shadow Report prepared by the Centre for Women’s Research in 2001.

Despite the hardships, these women thrive to support their families. They work extremely hard and sacrifice endlessly to make money and make their families happy. They do multi tasking without any proper rest. Women continue to contribute to the country's economy as well.

Empower WOMEN; End poverty and hunger