Education aids gender wage gap decline in SL – WB

By Paneetha Ameresekere | Published: 2:00 AM Dec 7 2021

By Paneetha Ameresekere

Sri Lanka’s labour market greatly rewards Sri Lankan women who invest in education resulting in the gender wage gap decreasing in that country for that category, the World Bank (WB) said on 1 December.

The WB, in a publication titled ‘From Jobs to Careers: Apparel Exports and Career Paths for Women in Developing Countries’ said having tertiary education or above is especially beneficial for Sri Lankan women, enabling them to earn more than 50 per cent more than those who do not have tertiary education.

“Our results show that high skill occupations (HSOs) in high-skill service industries (education and human health services) tend to favour female employment where women account for more HSOs in these two industries than men,” the WB said.

Financial services account for two per cent of all women employed in Sri Lanka, it added.

Nonetheless, Sri Lankan women need to have more than a lower-secondary education to have better returns than males, the publication said. “In Sri Lanka, the returns to completing primary education are lower for females than males in most years, while returns to lower-secondary education show a decreasing trend,” the report further warned.

Nevertheless, a stronger footprint across manufacturing subsectors—combined with sufficient average education levels and training—creates an opportunity to further expand women’s opportunities in manufacturing-related services, such as in the wholesale, logistics, and distribution stages of the supply chain in Sri Lanka, the WB advised.

It further said overall, the Services Sector accounts for 45 per cent of all Sri Lankan women in employment. Next was the Agriculture Sector which employed 30 per cent of all female labour in Sri Lanka, with the remainder being filled by the Manufacturing Sector.

Meanwhile, in the Apparel Subsector in the manufacturing Sector, women account for 12 per cent of all working women in the country, it said. Apart from the Apparel Subsector, the food Product Manufacturing Subsector accounts for five per cent of all female employment in the island, the WB said.

Seventy two per cent of all employees, employed in Sri Lanka’s Apparel Sector are women, it said. The average age of female Sri Lankan apparel workers were between 31–45 years old, where their ages with time have increased, resulting in the wage gap decreasing.

However, the apparel share of exports remains flat in Sri Lanka, the report further warned. The average marrying age for Sri Lanka is 23.4 years, it added.

By Paneetha Ameresekere | Published: 2:00 AM Dec 7 2021

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