Report reveals multiple barriers faced by persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka

A report released in Colombo has revealed multiple barriers faced by persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka.

In the study, 400 persons with disabilities covering 4 districts were surveyed on difficulties faced in entering and remaining in the labour force.

Evidence shows that they encounter multiple barriers in access to economic opportunities and women with disabilities are twice as disadvantaged.

A gender budget study was also conducted to reveal gaps in programmatic and budgetary commitments, despite several policies and legislation promoting the rights of persons with disabilities.

UN Women, together with the Ministry of Women & Child Affairs and Dry Zone Development and the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, launched a report on “Women with Disabilities and Their Access to Economic Opportunities:  Through the Lens of Gender Budgets” today.

The study is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka to use a gender budgeting framework to examine government plan, policies and budgets and its impact on women with disabilities.

The 2012 Census of Sri Lanka revealed that there are more women with disabilities than that of men in all age groups.

However, women comprised only 15% of employed persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka, which highlights a stark gender gap and a discrepancy in access to opportunities.

Speaking at the event, the UN Women Country Focal Point – Sri Lanka, Ms. Ramaaya Salgado, noted that “women and girls with disabilities face multiple and intersecting levels of exclusion, discrimination, abuse and marginalisation. Therefore, they often confront additional disadvantages as compared to men with disabilities or other women”.

In his address, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Sri Lanka, Heon Lee, stressed the importance of national budgets for gender equality. He noted that “this research study is vital because not only does it look at why these gaps exist, but it also examines how national programmes and most importantly, national budgets can promote women with disabilities’ access to more inclusive and accessible employment and livelihood opportunities.” He cited good practices implemented by the Republic of Korea, which included development of “a Gender Budget Statement analysing the impact of the National Budget on women and men”.

The Secretary of the Ministry of Women & Child Affairs and Dry Zone Development, Ms. Dharshana Senanayake, highlighted a few gender budgeting initiatives that have commenced in Sri Lanka. She noted that “in 2016, the Cabinet had approved a minimum of 25% allocation of investment in rural economic development projects to benefit women, which is targeted at 10 key Ministries, Provincial Councils and District and Divisional Secretariats”. She further noted that “the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs is fully committed to take forward gender budgeting principles to ensure inclusive and equitable policy implementation”.

To support this endeavour, the report provides a set of recommendations to create an inclusive, accessible and enabling social environment to ensure women with disabilities enjoy equal rights and opportunities. It calls for a thorough review of the National Action Plan for Disability from a gender perspective to ensure that indicators are gender-responsive and the targets are sex-disaggregated. Further to that, the report recommends that gender-sensitive key performance indicators in Budget Call Circulars should be expanded to include disability dimensions wherever relevant. (Colombo Gazette)

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