Post-War Realities: Barriers to Female Economic Empowerment
This paper aims to examine the main barriers to economic empowerment experienced by female-headed households in the north of Sri Lanka. The theoretical approach adopted broadly examines these barriers on both an individual and structural level. By doing so, this paper questions the extent to which the economic choices of women are restricted by the structural constraints imposed by society and its institutions.
This paper is divided into three parts. Part I briefly examines Sri Lankas history and conceptualizes female economic empowerment. Part II presents the methodology and theoretical framework used to gather data for the study. Part III presents the findings and analysis gathered from the interviews. Part III is divided into four main sections: Part A begins by questioning whether the war triggered or exacerbated the economic pressure facing women in the north. Parts B and C examine the barriers to female economic empowerment on a structural level and an individual level, and Part D looks at the opportunities found within the interviews.
This paper argues that the economic gender gap present in female-headed households is more often a result of deep-rooted socio-economic constraints, rather than restrictions found inherent to the choices of the woman. To be relevant to the realities of female-headed households, post-conflict development programmes must question gender and how it intersects with other aspects of social stratification such as class, religion, ethnicity, caste, and disability.