Developing new livelihoods for former migrant female workers returning from working overseas
Sarvodaya Sri Lanka is embarking on a new project, focused on supporting livelihood development for Sri Lankan migrant women who are returning to Sri Lanka, having worked overseas, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 34% of Sri Lanka’s migrant worker population of 1.8 million people, comprises of women in low-skilled labor in the domestic sector in placements in the Middle East. These women have been the unsung heroes of Sri Lanka; being an integral part of the highest avenue of foreign revenue earnings for the country.
Having lost their jobs due to economic repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic, they return home to few, if any, economic opportunities to support their families. We have chosen to focus on this population for several key reasons.
- These women are unskilled workers, who face few opportunities and are often the head of household and sole income providers of their families.
- They will not be able to go abroad for work in the near future due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and their families will face economic hardship without any external support.
- Their absence in their families have been profound to the social fabric of Sri Lanka, with increasing rates of divorce, child abuse, and neglect of elders, forcing many children into children homes and elders into elderly homes.
- Their living conditions were with less protection and many threats and hence being able to keep living with their families while providing for them, will be a huge plus for their self-esteem and physical safety.
Sarvodaya aims to choose and support 175 Sri Lankan female migrant workers who are in an economically vulnerable position and are unable to provide for themselves and their families, through livelihood development training and mentorship. Special attention will be given to the women who are the household head of their family unit. This support aims to facilitate them to sustain themselves economically. We also aim to introduce value-added services to these individuals by givng them access to the existing Sarvodaya network, thereby having the ability to connect with various clientele and opportunities, depending on the livelihood activity they have chosen, with ease.
Unlike many “cookie cutter” livelihood development programs implemented by other organizations, which impose a pre-set training program on individuals, this program will be customized to the wishes, skills and talents of each individual beneficiary. Additionally, this program will create programs that are specific to the economic opportunities in each region of the country.
The Sarvodaya philosophy of personal and community awakening, its organizational structure, and its grassroots of a network of village level Sarvodaya societies, make Sarvodaya an ideal organization to implement this pioneering program in livelihood development. Sarvodaya will be able to leverage its networks at the national and local levels to connect new entrepreneurs to markets and stakeholders, provide value added services, and provide guidance and mentorship.
At the local level, these women will be models to their communities, and can share the skills and knowledge they have gained with them. Positive outcomes and applying the lessons learnt from this project will allow us to expand it through all districts in the country.
Donations welcome to make this project a success, leading to future similar projects.