Eran Wickramaratne

Wickramaratne employs correct statistics on gender gap in the labour force


"Sri Lanka’s Labour Force Participation (LFP) was 36% for women versus 75% for men in 2016, which is the 14th largest gender gap in LFP globally.

Daily FT | September 25, 2019



Fact Check

In his statement, State Minister Eran Wickramaratne provides statistics from 2016 to support his claim that (i) there is a large gender in labour force participation (LFP) in Sri Lanka; and (ii) unemployment is highest amongst women aged 15-24. assessed the minister’s claim using data from the Sri Lanka Labour Force Survey Annual Report 2016 by the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS) and the Global Gender Gap report by the World Economic Forum (WEF). LFP Annual Reports are available up to 2017, and the WEF is available up to 2018. Since the minister specifically stated 2016, evaluated his claim based on the 2016 statistic. However, the latest available data has also been provided. However, the latest data still supports the MP Wickramaratne’s overall argument.

DCS data shows that LFP was 75.1 per cent for men and 35.9 per cent for women in 2016 and 74.5 for men and 36.6 for women in 2017 (Exhibit 1). This is a gender gap of 39.2 percentage points in 2016 and 37.9 percentage points in 2017. WEF also ranked Sri Lanka 131st out of 144 countries on the gender gap in LFP, making it the 14th largest gender gap. In 2017 and 2018, this ranking changed to 132nd of 144 and 130th of 149 respectively. Therefore, the minister is correct on the figures he quotes on LFP.

DCS data also shows that in 2016, the group with the highest unemployment were women aged 15- 24 years (29.2%), 12.1 percentage points higher than men in the same age group, and 13.3 percentage points higher than women in the next highest group, aged 25 – 29 years (Exhibit 1).  In 2017, this percentage fell to 24.5 per cent.

State Minister Eran Wickramaratne was correct on both claims. Therefore, we classify his statement as TRUE.

*’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, will revisit the assessment.

Exhibit 1: Labour Force Participation and unemployment rate by age and gender

Exhibit 2: Unemployment rate by age and gender



Additional Note

However, the calculations on labour force participation published by DCS do not take into account the significant number of Sri Lankan women who are employed in foreign countries. If Sri Lankan migrant workers were to be included, the LFP calculated for women would increase.