Women business persons to receive livelihood support during COVID-19 outbreak | Daily News

Women business persons to receive livelihood support during COVID-19 outbreak

The UNDP and the SLTDA, with financial assistance from Citi, are developing a livelihood support mechanism for woman entrepreneurs, with a focus on women who are unable to access livelihood support services to revive their businesses.

A rapid assessment undertaken by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) found that women were disproportionately impacted with the outbreak of COVID-19 as 67 per cent of those who lost their jobs were women.

The Government has made significant progress in initiating early relief measures to businesses, however, as women make up a majority of the segment of unregistered (informal) service providers in Sri Lanka, this has posed a set of problems as informality translates into low wages, precarious working conditions and the absence of social protection. Coupled with an increase in unpaid work and care burdens during the pandemic, women have faced barriers to accessing these services.

UNDP Resident Representative in Sri Lanka Robert Juhkam said that building resilient social protection systems that help informal sector workers withstand shocks are a critical element of COVID-19 responses. “Supporting female workers affected by the crisis is a key component to ensuring that no one is left behind in Sri Lanka’s socioeconomic recovery efforts. This is direct relief and recovery, and the initiative will test new approaches to inform future social protection policy thinking,” he said.

SLTDA Chairperson Kimarli Fernando said that the programme will directly support 900 women selected from the nine Provinces in Sri Lanka. “Project initiatives will benefit at least 3,500 men and women indirectly throughout the country. This will be a grant and it will be a relief to the affected parties. Tourism authorities in the Provincial Councils have been asked to identify women engaged in the tourism sector and women who have already registered with the SLTDA who will also be considered for the selection. Selecting beneficiaries will be done by a panel transparently. Each selected beneficiary will get assistance worth Rs. 50,000. The selected women will receive business development services to enhance their skills for alternative livelihood development. A system will be set up to follow up with grant recipients to support them to utilise the grant for developing a complimentary livelihood with the support of provincial tourism authorities. Women entrepreneurs and those who want to be businesspersons will be further supported to obtain business registration with the SLTDA, enabling them access to livelihood support from the Government in the future”.

Citi Country Officer Ravin Basnayake said that Citi once again pledges its unwavering commitment to serve the local community, on national level efforts to fight against the pandemic. “We are proud of our partnership with the UNDP and the SLTDA on this timely initiative that demonstrates our shared commitment to women’s economic empowerment. We will continue to demonstrate Citi’s values through our philanthropic efforts to make a difference to those in need,” he said.

The project will engage provincial councils to identify the women entrepreneurs to sustain the efforts of the initiative. The programme is in-line with the UN framework for the immediate socio-economic response to COVID-19 that calls on countries to build forward better.