The Impact of Socio-Economic Changes in Female Employment Patterns in Sri Lanka

U. P. Lekamge


The introduction of free education system [1943] and the open economy [1977]in Sri Lanka have established a reversal of gender rolesand increased the femalerepresentation in the local job market and the migrant sector worker category. Thetraditional domestic housewife role changed to an active worker who contributesimmensely to the wellbeing of the self, family and the country. The scholars wereinterested in this phenomenon and they identified two types of „sexual division oflabour‟ in feudal society based on gender; „horizontal and vertical‟. Barret (1988) callsthis „industrial apartheid‟ and Coulson et al (1975) too have discussed the role thehousewife play in capitalist economy. Barron and Norris (1976) identify the sexualdivision of labour of the workers in the economic sphere as „primary and secondarysector‟. The main objective in this research is to find out how the female employmentpatterns in Sri Lanka have changed from „horizontal secondary sector‟ to a „verticalprimary sector‟ due to the influence of free education and open economy. The researchdesign used was survey. A structured questionnaire was used as the method of datacollection. Randomly selected sample of 500 females [250 urban and 250 rural] weregiven the questionnaire to be completed. The official statistics issued by differentDepartments, Ministries and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka were utilized in preliminaryliterature survey. In the study it was identified that the contribution made by the SriLankan females in all sectors of economy has been outstanding and the urban femalesenjoy more opportunities than rural females. In a social dimension there has been arecognizable move from „horizontal secondary sector‟ to a „vertical primary sector‟.

Key words: Sexualdivision of labour, Industrial apartheid, Primary and secondarysector, Horizontal and vertical division of labour

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