The Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) expresses solidarity with the women of Sri Lanka who struggle amidst the worst economic crisis in their nation’s history. During times of economic crisis, women are severely affected, especially in countries with lower levels of gender equality. Women lose jobs, health care and food security, and face overwhelming household care responsibilities, which are largely unvalued and unpaid.
The crisis in Sri Lanka has caused acute shortages of food, fuel, medicines and other essentials, and pushed more people deeper into poverty. The burden of filling in the gaps to provide even minimally for their families and children often falls heavily on women, at the expense of their own health and well-being amid the pandemic. One in four households in Sri Lanka is headed by women, of which half are widows and face persistent difficulties of juggling family responsibilities with paid and informal, precarious work, discriminatory attitudes toward women, limited access to finances, and inadequate social protection, among others.
As the Sri Lanka government resumes negotiations for a bailout with the International Monetary Fund, we fear that more stringent austerity conditionalities cannot be far behind. The toll on women and Sri Lankan working people will even be more severe.