Situation of Women
A mother’s state of health and education holds significant influence over a child’s wellbeing. Women in Sri Lanka now live longer, but on average their standards of nutrition not only fail to meet their own needs but hinder their efforts to ensure the health of their children.
Maternal nutrition is important during pregnancy, both for the development of the fetus and for the protection of the mother’s health. Poor maternal health leads to low birth weight leaving some babies malnourished right from birth. Girls that are born with low birth rate grow into women of short stature, who themselves are more likely to have low birth weight babies.
Women in Sri Lanka also face many critical forms of discrimination, including gender-based violence and the ill-treatment of migrant women and their children. Apart from domestic violence, women are also subject to sexual abuse, putting them at risk of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.
Thousands of Sri Lankan women migrate abroad to work as housemaids in a bid to earn higher wages and to offer a brighter future for their families back home. Despite the fact that their repatriated earnings form the second largest source of foreign exchange earnings for Sri Lanka, these migrant women are exposed to exploitation, physical harm, denial of basic human rights and freedoms, denial of labour rights and lack of access to legal or counselling services in the countries they work in. And while their earnings may improve the economic status of their families, the unsupervised children of these migrant workers may be exposed to the undesirable ills of society, which impacts them negatively.