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Six ways Sri Lanka can attract more foreign investments

Tatiana Nenova's picture
In 2017, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Sri Lanka grew to over $1,710 billion. But Sri Lanka still has ways to go to attract more FDI.
In 2017, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Sri Lanka grew to over $1,710 billion. But Sri Lanka still has ways to go to attract more FDI. Credit: Shutterstock 


To facilitate Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Sri Lanka launched last week an innovative online one-stop shop to help investors obtain all official approvals. To mark the occasion, this blog series explores different aspects of FDI in Sri Lanka. Part 1 put forth 5 Reasons Why Sri Lanka Needs FDI. Part 3 will relate how the World Bank is helping to improve Sri Lanka’s enabling environment for FDI.

Sri Lanka and foreign investments read a bit like a hit and miss story.

But it was not always the case.

Before 1983, companies like Motorola and Harris Corporation had plans to establish plants in Sri Lanka’s export processing zones. Others including Marubeni, Sony, Sanyo, Bank of Tokyo and Chase Manhattan Bank, had investments in Sri Lanka in the pipeline in the early 1980s.

All this changed when the war convulsed the country and derailed its growth. Companies left and took their foreign direct investments (FDI) with them.

Nearly a decade after the civil conflict ended in 2009, Sri Lanka is now in a very different place.

In 2017, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Sri Lanka grew to over $1,710 billion including foreign loans received by companies registered with the BOI, more than doubling from the $801 million achieved the previous year.

But Sri Lanka still has ways to go to attract more FDI.
 
As a percentage of GDP, FDI currently stands at a mere 2 percent and lags behind Malaysia at 3 – 4 percent and Vietnam at 5 – 6 percent.

Five reasons why Sri Lanka needs to attract foreign direct investments

Tatiana Nenova's picture
Sri Lanka’s government has recognized the need to foster private-sector and beef up exports to attain the overarching objective of becoming an upper-middle-income economy.
Sri Lanka’s government has recognized the need to foster private-sector and beef up exports to attain the overarching objective of becoming an upper-middle-income economy.

To facilitate Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Sri Lanka is launching this week an innovative online one-stop shop to help investors obtain all official approvals. To mark the occasion, this blog series explores different aspects of FDI in Sri Lanka. Part 2 will explore how the country can attract more FDI. Part 3 will relate how the World Bank is helping to create an enabling environment for FDI in Sri Lanka.

You may have heard that Sri Lanka is intent on drumming up more foreign direct investments up to $5 billion by 2020. At the same time, the government aims to improve the lives of Sri Lanka’s citizens by generating one million new and better jobs.
 
This isn’t a pipe dream. Thanks to its many advantages like a rich natural resource base, its strategic geographic position, highly literate workforce and fascinating culture, the island nation is ripe for investment in sectors such as tourism, logistics, information technology-enabled services, and high-value-added food processing and apparel.
 
What is foreign direct investment and why does Sri Lanka need it?
 
Very simply, foreign direct investment (or FDI) is an investment made by a company or an individual in a foreign country. Such investments can take the form of establishing a business in Sri Lanka, building a new facility, reinvesting profits earned from Sri Lanka operations or intra-company loans to subsidiaries in Sri Lanka.
 
The hope is that these investment inflows will bring good jobs and higher wages for Sri Lankan workers, increase productivity, and make the economy more competitive.  
 
Sri Lanka’s government has recognized the need to foster private-sector and beef up exports to attain the overarching objective of becoming an upper-middle-income economy.
 
Attracting more FDI can help achieve that goal and fulfill the promise of better jobs.
 
Here are five reasons why:

Innovative agribusinesses could drive agriculture modernization in Sri Lanka

Andrew D. Goodland's picture

Agribusiness can help drive prosperity in Sri Lanka – and we know just the entrepreneurs to do it. Over the last few months, we have seen over 1000 proposals come pouring in for consideration under the matching grants scheme (MGS) for agribusiness.  Today, the Government will sign the grant documents with the first entrepreneurs to make the cut.



The winning proposals lay out a clear plan for commercial and export-oriented agriculture initiatives that facilitate private sector investment, provide technical assistance, strengthen farmer producer organizations and promote smallholder–agribusiness partnerships.
 
The goal is to increase their competiveness, business orientation and market position in order to make them more attractive business partners in the value chain. It’s an ambitious task, but Sri Lanka’s agri-entrepreneurs have risen to the challenge.
 
Matching grants scheme supports agribusiness
 
The matching grants scheme, implemented by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Primary Industries comes under the Agriculture Sector Modernization Project. Supported by the World Bank, with additional funding from the European Union, the project is implemented through the Ministry of Primary Industries, the Ministry of Agriculture, and five participating provinces including the Northern, Eastern, Central, North-Central and Uva Provinces.
 
A rigorous and transparent selection process was used to create a shortlist. Successful applicants would be offered up to 50 percent of the investment required through the scheme, matched by their own funds or raised from commercial loans.  
 
These small enterprises need the boost. Today, beside a few major agriculture companies, most operators in Sri Lanka are small-scale cultivators who face problems related to low productivity and lack of diversification, absence of market linkages, non-availability of inputs and limited access to credit facilities. Farmers are not organised and tend to focus on low value crops that limit income generation.

இலங்கையின் தோட்ட பகுதிகளில் கல்வி மற்றும் ஆரம்பகால சிறுபராய பராமரிப்பை மேம்படுத்தல்

Shalika Subasinghe's picture
Also available in: English | සිංහල
இலங்கையில் தோட்டத் தொழிற்துறையானது தேயிலை,றப்பர் அல்லது தெங்குத் தோட்டங்களை உள்ளடக்கியதாகவும், அரசாங்கத்தாலோ, பிராந்திய தோட்ட நிறுவனங்களாலோ, தனி நபர்களாலோ, குடும்பங்களாலோ நிர்வாகிக்கப்படுவதாகவோ, சொந்தமானதாகவோ இருக்கின்றன.
 
இலங்கையின் சனத்தொகையில் 4 வீதமான மக்கள் பெருந்தோட்டங்களில் வாழ்கின்றனர்.  கடந்த தசாப்தத்தில் இலங்கையில், வறுமை விகிதம் கணிசமானளவு முன்னேறியிருந்தாலும் கூட, பெருந்தோட்டங்களில் வாழும் மக்கள் மிகவும் வறிய சூழ்நிலையிலேயே வாழ்கின்றனர்.
 
ஹட்டன், மத்திய பிரிவின் மவுண்ட் வெர்னன் தோட்டத்தில், ஒரு பழைய சிறுவர் அபிவிருத்தி மையம் (CDC) ஒன்று வீதிக்கு மிக அருகுமியில், சிறுவருக்கு அங்கிங்கே அசைவதற்கும் இடமில்லாதளவு மிகச்சிறிய இடவசதியோடு காணப்படுகிறது.
 
மிக அண்மைக்காலம் வரை மிக மோசமான நிலையில் வசதிகளற்றுக் காணப்பட்டது. அண்மையில் உலக வங்கியால் நிதி வழங்கப்படும் இலங்கை இளம் பராயத்து சிறுவர் அபிவிருத்தித் திட்டத்தின் நிதியுதவியில் மூலமாக புதிய இடவசதியுடன் கூடிய CDC யைக் கட்டியெழுப்பும் வரை இந்நிலை தான் காணப்பட்டது.
 
மவுண்ட் வெர்னன் தோட்ட, மத்திய பிரிவின் ,  பிரைட்டன் முன்பள்ளி சிறுவர்கள் திறப்பு விழா நாளின்போது அனைவரையும் வரவேற்கத் தயாராகிறார்கள். படப்பிடிப்பு:  ஷாலிகா சுபசிங்க 

நிர்மாணப் பணியானது பூர்த்திசெய்யப்பட்டு 2017 ஒக்டோபரில் சமூகத்திடம் கையளிக்கப்பட்டது.
 
கிட்டத்தட்ட 20 சிறுவர்கள் தினமும்  சிறுவர் அபிவிருத்தி மையத்துக்கு சமூகம் தருகின்றனர்.
 
சிறுவர் அபிவிருத்தி அதிகாரியான கமல தர்ஷினி, சிறுவருக்கு புத்தம்புதிய இடமொன்று புதிய தளபாடங்கள், விளையாட்டுப் பொருட்களுடன் கிடைத்ததில் திருப்தியுற்றுள்ளார். அந்தச் சிறுவர்கள் வெவ்வேறு நிறங்களில் விருப்பம் கொண்டவர்களாகவும் சிறுவர் மையத்துக்கு தினந்தோறும் வருவதற்கு ஆர்வமுடையவர்களாக இருப்பதாகவும் அவர் உணர்கிறார்.
 
அந்த சிறுவர்களில் ஒருவரின் உறவினரான S.ராஜேஸ்வரி "புதிய சிறுவர் மையமானது பல மாற்றங்களைக் கொண்டுள்ளது.காற்றோட்டமானது. குழந்தைகள் விளையாடுவதற்கு இடவசதியும் உள்ளது. நீர் மற்றும் மின்சார வசதியும் உள்ளது" என்று குறிப்பிடுகிறார்.

இரண்டு வயதான தக்க்ஷிதாவின் தயாரான M.கௌரி "அங்கே சிறுவர்க்கான இரண்டு நவீன மலசல கூடக் கிண்ணக் கழிப்பறைகள் உள்ளது மகிழ்ச்சியைத் தருகிறது. எனது மகன் அங்கேஇயற்கை உபாதைகளைத் தீர்த்துக்கொள்ள விரும்புகிறார்"என்றார். அத்துடன் "வெளியேயுள்ள விளையாடும் பகுதி வேலியினால் அடைக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.தக்ஷிதா பாதுகாப்பாக இருப்பார் என்பது மகிழ்ச்சியைத் தருவதோடு அவர் அருகேயுள்ள தேயிலைச் செடிப் பற்றைகளுக்குள் தொலைந்துவிட மாட்டார் என்பதில் மகிழ்ச்சி" என்று மேலும் தெரிவித்தார்.
 
சிறுகுழந்தைகள் அறையானது பாலூட்டுவதற்குத் தனியான இடத்தைக் கொண்டுள்ளதுடன், பால் மா கொடுப்பதை விட தாய்ப்பால் கொடுப்பதே சிறப்பானது என்பதை பிரசாரப்படுத்தும் இரு பெரிய சுவரொட்டிகள் தமிழிலும் சிங்களத்திலும் காணப்படுகின்றன.
 
கமலா 2010இல் தன்னுடைய சிறுவர் அபிவிருத்தி டிப்ளோமாவைப் பெற்றதுடன் இன்னொரு புதிய கற்கை நெறியை இவ்வருடம் தொடரவுள்ளார்.
 உதவி சிறுவர் அபிவிருத்தி அலுவலராகவுள்ள யமுனா பெருந்தோட்ட மனிதவள அபிவிருத்தி அறக்கட்டளை (PHDT) யால் நடத்தப்படும் சிறுவர் அபிவிருத்தி டிப்ளோமா நெறியைத் தொடர்கிறார்.

ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ වතුකරය සඳහා වඩා හොඳ මුල් ළමාවිය රැකවරණ ක්‍ර‍මයක් හා අධ්‍යාපනයක් ඇති කිරීම

Shalika Subasinghe's picture
Also available in: English | தமிழ்
තේ, රබර් හා පොල්වලින් සමන්විත ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ වතු අංශය, රජය, ප්‍රාදේශීය වැවිලි සමාගම්, තනි පුද්ගලයින් හෝ පවුල් විසින් පාලනය කරනු ලබන හෝ හිමිකාරිත්වය දරනු ලබන්නකි.

ශ්‍රී ලාංකික ජනගහනයෙන් 4% ක් පමණ වතුකරයේ ජීවත් වෙති. පසුගිය දශකය තුළ ශ්‍රී ලංකාව පුරා දරිද්‍රතා අනුපාතයන් සැලකිය යුතු ලෙස ධනාත්මකව නැගෙද්දී, වතුකරයේ ජීවත්වන ජනතාව තවමත් රටේ ඉහළම දරිද්‍ර‍තාවයෙන් පෙළෙන ජනතාව අතර සිටිති.

හැටන්හි, මවුන්ට් වර්නන් වතුයායේ මැදි කලාපය තුළ මහා මාර්ගයට සමීපයෙන් ඇති පැරණි ළමා සංවර්ධන මධ්‍යස්ථානය (CDC) දරුවන්ට ඇවිද යන්නට හෝ අවකාශ රහිත, ඉතා සීමිත ඉඩකඩක පිහිටා තිබිණ.

මෑතක් වන තුරුම මෙහි පහසුකම් අලුත්වැඩියාවට ලක්ව තිබුණේ නැත.
 
මවුන්ට් වර්නන් වතුයායේ මැදි කලාපයේ ශිෂ්‍යයින්ගේ බ්‍ර‍යිට් පෙර පාසල් දරුවන් විවෘත කිරීමේ දිනයේ දී සෑම කෙනෙකුම සාදරයෙන් පිළිගැනීමට සූදානමින් සිටිති. ඡායාරූපය : ශාලිකා සුබසිංහ

ඒ, ලෝක බැංකුවේ මූල්‍ය අනුග්‍ර‍හයෙන් වන ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ මුල් ළමා විය සංවර්ධන ව්‍යාපෘතිය යටතේ ඉඩ පහසුකම් සහිත, නව ළමා සංවර්ධන  මධ්‍යස්ථානයක් (CDC) ඉදිවන තුරු ය.
ඉදිකිරීම් කටයුතු අවසන් කර 2017 ඔක්තෝබර් මාසයේදී එය ප්‍ර‍ජාව වෙත පිළිගන්වන ලදී.

දැන්, සෑම දිනකම දරුවන් 20 කට ආසන්න පිරිසක් ළමා සංවර්ධන මධ්‍යස්ථානය වෙත පැමිණෙති.

දරුවන්ට අලුත්ම පුටු, මේස හා සෙල්ලම් බඩු සහිත නවතම මධ්‍යස්ථානයක් හිමි වීම පිළිබඳ ළමා සංවර්ධන නිලධාරිනී කමලා දර්ශනි සතුටු වන්නී ය. විවිධ වර්ණවලට ඇලුම් කරන දරුවන් සෑම දිනකම මධ්‍යස්ථානයට පැමිණීමට උනන්දු වන බව ඇයට පෙනී ගොස් ඇත.

එක් දරුවකුගේ නැන්දණිය වන එස්. රාජේශ්වරී පවසන්නේ "නව මධ්‍යස්ථානය බොහෝ වෙනස්කම් සහිතයි. එය වාතාශ්‍ර‍ය සහිතයි වගේම ළමයින්ට සෙල්ලම් කරන්නට වැඩි ඉඩකුත් තිබෙනවා. විදුලි සහ ජල පහසුකමුත් තිබෙනවා. " යනුවෙනි.

දෙහැවිරිදි දරුවකු වූ දක්ෂිතගේ මව වන එම්. ගෞරී පවසන්නේ "කුඩා, ජලයෙන් පිරිසිදු වන, ජල මුද්‍ර‍ත වැසිකිළි දෙකක් මෙහි තිබීම අගනා දෙයක්. මගේ පුතා මෙහේ වැසිකිළිය පාවිච්චි කරන්න කැමතියි. ඒත් එක්කම පිටත සෙල්ලම් පිට්ටනියට වැටක් යොදලයි තියෙන්නේ. දැන් දක්ෂිත ආරක්ෂා සහිතව ඉන්න බවත් එයා පිටත තේ පඳුරු තියෙන පැත්තට නොයන බවත් මම දන්නවා.“ යනුවෙනි.

Improving early childhood care and education in Sri Lanka’s plantations

Shalika Subasinghe's picture
Also available in: සිංහල | தமிழ்
In the Mount Vernon Estate Middle Division, Bright Preschool, children are getting ready to greet everyone on the day of the opening of the new facilities. Credit: Shalika Subasinghe
In Sri Lanka, the plantation sector comprises tea, rubber or coconut plantations managed or owned by the state, regional plantation companies, individuals, or families.

About 4 percent of the Sri Lankan population live in plantations. And while poverty rates have improved significantly in the last decade across Sri Lanka, people living in plantations are still among the poorest in the country. The Mount Vernon Estate, Middle Division, Hatton had an old Child Development Center (CDC) closer to the road with very limited space for the children to move around.

Until recently, the facilities were beyond repair.

That is, until the World Bank-funded Sri Lanka Early Childhood Development Project provided financial assistance to build a spacious new CDC.

The construction work was completed in October 2017 and handed over to the community.

Nearly 20 children now attend the CDC every day.

Kamala Darshani, the Child Development Officer in charge is pleased that the children now have a brand new center with new tables, chairs, and toys. She finds that the children love various colors and feels that the children could benefit from attending the center every day. 

 

Managing climate risks in South Asia: A “bottom up” approach

Poonam Pillai's picture
Surma river between Bangladesh and India
The Surma River that flows between Bangladesh and India. Photo Credit: Poonam Pillai

Being from Kolkata, I have always been used to floods. Prolonged flooding typically meant schools and offices closed, traffic jams and a much-needed respite from the tropical summer heat. However, it was during a field visit to the flood prone northeastern border of Bangladesh, where rivers from India flow downstream into Bangladesh, that I fully appreciated the importance of disaster early warning systems and regional collaboration in saving lives, property, enabling communities to evacuate and prepare for extreme weather events.

Disaster early warning systems, along with other information services based on weather, water and climate data (sometimes known as “hydromet” or “climate services”) play a key role in disaster preparedness and improving the productivity and performance of climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture.  Along with investments in resilient infrastructure, risk financing strategies and capacity building measures, they are a key part of a toolkit for strengthening disaster and climate resilience.  Research shows that for every dollar spent on disaster early warning systems, the benefits range from $2-10.  In South Asia, these are particularly important given the region’s extreme vulnerability to climate risks and staggering socio-economic costs arising from extreme weather events.

இலங்கை மகளிர் முன்வர தயங்க வேண்டுமா?

Seshika Fernando's picture
Also available in: English | සිංහල
Women in Sri Lanka routinely experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Some have been denied promotions, been paid less than their male peers, and sexually harassed at work
இலங்கையில் பெண்கள்  அவர்கள் பணியிடங்களில் துன்புறுத்தல்களை எதிர்கொள்வது வழமையான விடயமாக காணப்படுகின்றது.

நான் பணிபுரியும் நிறுவனத்தில் பணியில் அக்கறையற்ற நபர்களிற்கு  இடமில்லை என்ற கடுமையானகொள்கையை பின்பற்றுகின்றோம் .தங்கள் சக பணியாளர்களை வம்பிற்கு இழுக்கும் கேலி செய்யும் நபர்களிற்கு இடமில்லை என்பதே இதன் அர்த்தம்.எங்கள் பணியாளர்கள் ஏனையவர்களின் தனிப்பட்ட விடயங்களிற்குள் தலையிடுவதில்லை. அழைப்பில்லாத தனிப்பட்ட தொடர்புகளை ஏற்படுத்துவதில்லை.இலங்கையில் பெண்கள்  அவர்கள் பணியிடங்களில் துன்புறுத்தல்களை எதிர்கொள்வது வழமையான விடயமாக காணப்படுகின்றது.ஆனால் இது போன்ற கொள்கைகள் ஒரு பாலினத்திற்கு மாத்திரம் சார்பாக காணப்படுவது இல்லை.ஆண்கள் இதன் நன்மையை அனுபவிக்கின்றனர்.

துரதிஸ்டவசமாக எனது நிறுவனத்தின் கொள்கை என்பது விதிமுறை என்பதை விட தனித்துவமானது.சமீபத்தில் பெண் பொறியியலாளர்களை சந்தித்து அவர்களின் அனுபவங்களை கேட்பதற்கான வாய்ப்பு கிடைத்தது.ஒருவர் களப்பணிகளிற்கு செல்வது எவ்வளவு கடினமானதாக காணப்படுகின்றது என தெரிவித்தார். தனது ஆண் சக தொழிலாளர்கள் தன்னை மதிக்க விரும்பாததாலும் தனது வழிகாட்டுதல்களை செவிமடுக்க விரும்பாததாலுமே இந்த நிலை காணப்படுவதாக அவர் தெரிவித்தார். ஏனைய பெண்களிற்கு பதவி உயர்வு மறுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது, 
 

Sheshika Fernando addressing the gathering at an international conference
நான் சர்வதேச தொழில்நுட்ப மாநாடுகளில் அடிக்கடி எனது நிறுவனத்தை பிரதிநிதித்துவம் செய்கின்றேன்.

 

அவர்களுக்கு அவர்களது ஆண்சகாக்களை விட குறைவாகவே ஊதியம் வழங்குகின்றனர் அவர்கள் பாலியல்ரீதியிலான துன்புறுத்தல்களை எதிர்கொள்ளவேண்டியுள்ளது.

ශ්‍ර‍ී ලාංකික කාන්තාව තවදුරටත් පසුපස අසුන් ගත යුතුද?

Seshika Fernando's picture
Also available in: English | தமிழ்
Women in Sri Lanka routinely experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Some have been denied promotions, been paid less than their male peers, and sexually harassed at work
ශ්‍ර‍ී ලංකාවේ කාන්තාවන් නිරතුරුව රැකියා ස්ථානවලදී හිංසනයන්ට ගොදුරු වන අතර සමහර කාන්තාවන් උසස්වීම් අහිමි ව ගොස්, සිය පුරුෂ වෘත්තීය සගයින්ට වඩා අඩු වේතන ලැබී, ලිංගික හිංසනයන්ට ද ලක්ව තිබිණ.

මා සේවය කරන සමාගමෙහි දැඩි "අවහිර නොකිරීමේ" ප්‍රතිපත්තියක් පවතී. ඉන් අදහස් වන්නේ, තමන්ගේ සහෝදර සේවක-සේවිකාවන්ට හිරිහැර කිරීමට හෝ සමච්චල් කිරීමට කිසිවකුට ඉඩක් නොමැති බවයි. අපගේ සේවකයින් එකිනෙකාගේ පෞද්ගලික අවකාශයන් ආක්‍රමණය නොකරන අතර අනාරාධිත පෞද්ගලික සම්බන්ධතා ඇති කරගැනීමට උත්සුක නොවේ. ශ්‍ර‍ී ලංකාවේ කාන්තාවන් නිරතුරුව රැකියා ස්ථානවලදී ලිංගික හිංසනයන්ට ගොදුරු වන නමුත් මෙවැනි ප්‍රතිපත්ති අනුග්‍රහය දක්වන්නේ එක් පාර්ශවයකට පමණක් නොවේ. පුරුෂ පාර්ශවයද මෙහි ප්‍ර‍තිලාභ භුක්ති විඳිති.

අවාසනාවකට මෙන්, මගේ සමාගමේ ප්‍රතිපත්තිය නීතියක් නොව ව්‍යතිරේකයකි. මෑතකදී මට මෙරට කාන්තා ඉංජිනේරුවන් හමුවී ඔවුන්ගේ අත්දැකීම් විමසන්නට අවස්ථාවක් ලැබුණි. එක් තැනැත්තියක් මට කීවේ ඇයගේ රැකියාව කෙතරම් අභියෝගයට ලක් වන්නේ ද යන්න ය. ඇයගේ පුරුෂ වෘත්තීය සගයින් ඇයට ගරු කරන්නට හෝ ඇයගේ මග පෙන්වීම් පිළිගන්නට කැමැත්ත පළ කොට තිබුණේ නැත. අනෙකුත් කාන්තාවන් උසස්වීම් අහිමි ව ගොස්, සිය පුරුෂ වෘත්තීය සගයින්ට වඩා අඩු වේතන ලැබී, ලිංගික හිංසනයන්ට ද ලක්ව තිබිණ.
 

Sheshika Fernando addressing the gathering at an international conference
මම නිතරම ජාත්‍යන්තර තාක්ෂණික සමුළුවලදී මගේ සමාගම නියෝජනය කරන්නෙමි. සෑම විටම පාහේ ප්‍රේක්ෂාගාරය පිරී පවතින්නේ පුරුෂයින්ගෙනි. නමුත් මම මගේ කතාව ඉදිරිපත් කරන විට, එය ස්ත්‍රී කේන්ද්‍රීය වේදිකාවකි.

Do Sri Lankan women need to take the backseat?

Seshika Fernando's picture
Also available in: සිංහල | தமிழ்
Women in Sri Lanka routinely experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Some have been denied promotions, been paid less than their male peers, and sexually harassed at work
Women in Sri Lanka routinely experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Some have been denied promotions, been paid less than their male peers, and sexually harassed at work

We have a strict ‘no jerks’ policy at the company where I work. It means we just don’t have room for people who bully or mock their co-workers. Our employees don’t invade each other’s personal space or make uninvited personal contact. Women in Sri Lanka routinely experience sexual harassment in the workplace, but policies like this don’t favor just one gender. Men enjoy the benefits as well.
 
Unfortunately, my company’s policy is an exception rather than the rule. Recently, I had a chance to meet Sri Lankan women engineers and hear their experiences. One told me about how challenging going to the field was because her male subordinates refused to respect her or follow her directions. Other women have been denied promotions, paid less than their male peers and sexually harassed at work.
 

Sheshika Fernando addressing the gathering at an international conference
Seshika Fernando represents her company at a lot of international technology conferences. Almost always the audience is filled with men. But when she's delivering her talk, it’s a woman taking center stage.

Sometimes it’s more subtle than that. In every company I have ever worked for, women are in the minority. They may not have the same interests as their male colleagues or be able to socialize. Not everyone is comfortable conversing in the male lingo, just to fit in. When work is discussed in such social settings, women can very easily miss out. Each time something like this happens, it’s a loss for the company and for the country.

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