PEP alumnus Nisha Arunatilake presented insights on decent work for women at an international workshop

June 2023

Dr. Nisha Arunatilake, a distinguished PEP Research Fellow, recently showcased her insights on improving food environments for impoverished urban communities to prevent malnutrition and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as well as her work on enhancing access to decent work for women at the "Poverty, Hunger, and Jobs" workshop in June.

Dr. Nisha Arunatilake, the Director of Research at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) of Sri Lanka and PEP Research Fellow, recently presented at the "Poverty, Hunger and Jobs" workshop, a three-day virtual international gathering co-convened by esteemed organizations, including the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Southern Voice, and the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development.

Aiming to foster constructive advancements in the areas of hunger, employment, and poverty, the workshop focused on discussing solutions to the impediments faced by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These challenges have been exacerbated by a confluence of crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and conflict, among others. 

Arunatilake's presentation included insights from a PEP initiative she headed that examined context-specific barriers to decent work for women. With the support of Co-Impact, this project was conducted in Kenya, Senegal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Brazil, and Peru.

In her presentation, Arunatilake revealed findings from this initiative regarding the obstacles that women face which hinder their access to decent work. Chief among these challenges are sociocultural barriers, legislative barriers and infrastructural barriers.

Traditional gender roles place additional burdens on women, hampering their access to decent work. Such constraints also diminish the demand for women workers, fuelled by societal perceptions of them being less dedicated due to family responsibilities. Traditional roles can also obstruct women's career advancement and impose limitations on when and where they can work.

These challenges are augmented by gaps in the legislative environment. The legislative shortcomings vary across countries, making it necessary to assess each country's remedies separately. The legislative challenges for improving women's access to decent work include gaps in legislation, such as laws against sexual harassment in the workplace in Sri Lanka, poorly designed legislation, like maternity leave laws seen in Peru, or poorly implemented legislation, as is the case for Kenya and the Philippines. 

While acknowledging the need for economic interventions to improve access to decent work, Arunatilake also emphasized the need for awareness building to support women in their decision to engage in market. She also noted the need to improve the legislative environment to prevent discrimination and unequal treatment of women in the workplace and support affordable transportation and access to quality daycare facilities.


Read insights from Dr. Nisha Arunatilake's presentation here.

Learn more about the context-specific barriers to women's participation in decent work initiative.



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