Increasing Women’s Participation in Labour Force

By Paneetha Ameresekere | Published: 2:20 AM Jun 12 2021

By Paneetha Ameresekere

Lighting’, ‘good pavements’, ‘good visibility’ and ‘good accessibility to public transport’ are key to encourage women to participate in the labour force, the World Bank (WB) in a study released recently, said.

The study however discounted the impact that COVID-19 has on women’s participation in the labour force. ‘For instance Sri Lanka has a low female labour force participation rate which was at 33.6 per cent as opposed to that of men at 73 per cent as per 2018 official data dished out by the Census and Statistics Department (CSD) showed,’ the WB said. At present, the Colombo Metropolitan Area is faced with urban challenges such as inadequate pedestrian walkways and supporting infrastructural facilities, increased air pollution, traffic congestion, and lack of comfort and safety in accessing and using both public spaces and public transport. 

Lack of safety or perceived sense of safety, makes girls and women feel unsafe thereby restricting their mobility both socially and economically. To ensure women’s active participation in the public sphere, it is important to ensure that their travel needs and concerns are understood and incorporated in planning of public spaces and public transport systems, the WB said. The study segmentalised Colombo District to its five local authority areas for the purpose of this project. They were the Colombo Municipality Area (CMA), Sri Jayewardenepura Municipality Area (SJMA), Kolonnawa Urban Council (KUC): Dehiwela-Mount Lavinia Municipality Area (DMLMA) and Moratuwa Municipal Council (MMC). In respect of lighting, MMC came out tops with a score of 56 per cent.

 It was followed by CMA (52 per cent), DMLMA (43 per cent), SJMA (23 per cent) and KUC (nine per cent), respectively. In respect of good pavements, CMA was on top with 56 per cent. It was followed by MMC (34 per cent), DMLMA (15 per cent) SJMA (14 per cent) and KUC (four per cent). In respect of good visibility, largely aided by shops’ lightings, DMLMA was in the lead with57 per cent, followed by CMA (48 per cent), SJMA (44 per cent), KUC (43 per cent) and MMC (39 per cent). 

In the case of ‘good accessibility to public transport,’ CMA led with 72 per cent, followed by DMLMA and MMC (52 per cent each), SJMA (49 per cent) and KUC (52 per cent). In respect of MMC and lighting, the WB said that one per cent of the audited points in connection with the study have been identified as dark spots ( ie no street lights (SL)) and seven per cent of the audit points have been identified as poorly lit spaces . This is due to nonfunctional street lights or absence of street lights, the WB said.

 In respect of CMA and lighting, the WB said that10 per cent of audit points have been identified as poorly lit spaces. This is due to non-functional street lights or absence of street lights. The geo-located data used for the purpose of this study could be used by the authorities to review the condition of the streetlights and improving overall lighting at the identified points, the WB said. In respect of DMLMA and lighting the WB said that 11 per cent of audit points have been identified as poorly lit spaces. 

This is due to nonfunctional street lights or absence of street lights. In respect of SJMA and lighting, the WB said that three per cent of the audit points have been identified as dark spots (No SL) and 26 per cent of audit points have been identified as poorly lit spaces. This is due to nonfunctional street lights or absence of street lights. 

This geolocated data could be used by the authorities to review the condition of streetlights and improve overall lighting at the identified points, the WB said. And in respect of KUC and lighting, the WB said that two per cent of audit points have been identified as dark spots and 42 per cent of the audited area have been identified as poorly lit spaces. This is due to streetlights being installed either along only one side of the road or along the central median. This results in well-lit roads for vehicles but poorly lit walk path for pedestrians, the WB said.

 In respect of good pavements vis-a-vis CMA, the WB said that 28 per cent of the captured area has been identified as having unpaved or no designated path for pedestrians. This geo-located data could be used for up-gradation work to improve the condition of walkways in the City, it added.

 In respect of good pavements regarding the MMC, the WB said that more than half of the audit points have been identified as having unpaved or no designated path for pedestrians. In respect of DMLMA, the WB said that 15 per cent of the area has proper pavements to walk. In respect of SJMA, the WB said that only 14 per cent of the audited area has paved and unobstructed pavement to walk and 16 per cent of the audited area has proper pavements where they are either broken or ‘obstructed in between.’ 

Further, 35 per cent of the audited points have recorded no pavements, while the remaining 35 per cent have unpaved path for pedestrians. This geolocated data could be used for upgradation work and to identify the condition of walkways in the area, the WB said. And in respect of KUC it said that only four per cent of the area mapped out has good walk paths. In respect of good visibility and DMLMA, the WB said that Visibility parameter measures presence of vendors, shops and building entrances facing the streets and public areas, also considered as ‘eyes on the street.’. This gives a sense of natural surveillance as one can be seen while walking on the road. 

Along some of the streets, vendors and hawkers were found acting as natural surveillance, the WB said. In respect of CMA the WB said that most of the highly rated points were along the commercial streets of the Council area. On the streets along the sea shore, vendors and hawkers were found acting as natural surveillance. 

In respect of SJMA the WB said that more than half of the audit points have limited visibility due to high boundary walls. When data is represented geographically, it is seen that, most of the poorly rated points are along the main roads of the Council area. Very few vendors and hawkers were found in this area. 

Some of the vending locations were identified and mapped out, the WB said. In respect of KUC, the WB said that most of the poorly rated points were along the primary roads of the Council area. Very few vendors and hawkers were found in this area resulting in poor visibility due to low natural surveillance, it said. 

And in respect of MMC, the WB said that most of the poorly rated points were along the secondary roads of the Council area. On the main roads, a few vendors and hawkers were found acting as natural surveillance, the WB said. Meanwhile, in respect of ‘good accessibility to public transport’ vis-a-vis CMA, the WB said that 10 per cent of the audited area does not have formal transit stands/stops reachable within 10 minutes walking distance.

 This data can be used by the authorities to strengthen the overall transit network of the city and make public transport more accessible by building IPT (intermediate public transport) stops to support the bus and train network, it said. In respect of DMLMA, the WB said that 52 per cent of the audited area has transport stand within five minutes of walking distance, whereas 20 per cent of the audited area has formal transit stands/stops reachable within 5-10 minutes walking distance and 28 per cent of the audited area does not have public transport stands within 10 minutes of walking distance. This data can be used by the authorities to strengthen the overall transit network of the city and make public transport more accessible by building IPT stops to support the bus and train network. 

There is a need to upgrade some of the existing bus stops with proper signage and seating infrastructure, the WB further said. In respect of the MMC, the WB said that 52 per cent of the mapped out area has public transport stands within five minutes walking distance, whereas 18 per cent of the mapped area has public transport stand within five to 10 minutes of walking distance, while 30 per cent of the audited area does not have formal transit stands/stops reachable within 10 minutes walking distance.

By Paneetha Ameresekere | Published: 2:20 AM Jun 12 2021

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