Women must step in to drive economy and promote humanity: Rosy Senanayake


by Sanath Nanayakkare

I am very confident and optimistic about what Sri Lankan women are capable of as equal partners of the national economy, but we have to be open to being a part of making the country a better place for all to live, by promoting humanity and empathy, Rosy Senanayake, first female mayor-elect for Colombo said at an event held in Colombo recently.

Addressing the national conference on 'Promoting a Sustainable Work Life for Women in the Hospitality and Tourism Sectors', she observed that more and more young women are entering career fields largely dominated by men in the leisure and hospitality sector.

"The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka at its Rising Stars Awards 2017 recognized competent and energetic youth engaged in the hospitality sector among thousands of aspiring competitors. The finalists were chosen following a meticulous assessment process conducted under a panel of experts representing the industry and related disciplines. A number of young women were recognized as finalists in the reception, telephone operator, room attendant categories as well as in the bar attendant category. This is an encouraging trend as the country's tourism industry is facing a shortfall of skilled personnel while it is competing with some of the finest destinations and hotels across the world," she

"Women represent 55% of the total population of 18 years and above, however, their labour force participation is 36%. We need to break barriers to women's participation in the work force. Government policy making in the tourism sector should mainstream policy, planning and operations to facilitate women to obtain training, creating better credit lines for women to start tourism-related businesses and address social-cultural barriers by increasing awareness of the important economic role of women workers in the tourism industry", she noted.

Speaking with evident anguish she said," I must say this too. Even though we boast of a high literacy rate in this country, recent riots made it clear that our rates of empathy and humanity are woefully lacking. As women, through our multiple roles as wives, mothers and sisters we can band together and work towards promoting a culture that celebrates diversity against a culture that triggers animosity on a very archaic and primitive mindset".

The event was sponsored by Chevening, Solidarity Centre, The Asia Foundation and WUSC Sri Lanka where James Dauris, British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka also spoke.

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