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Colombo, 7 March 2017: Sri Lanka’s female labour force participation is declining. In 2006, females constituted 39.5% of the working force, where as in 2014, this number has come down to 36.3%. In response to this socio-economic issue, it is imperative that organizations continuously review corporate policies to instill an organizational culture that is conducive towards its female employees. 

Shifting corporate culture is a long-term process that involves addressing day-to-day biases, stigma and stereotypes among employees. It includes ensuring staff benefits such as maternity and paternity leave, and flexible working hours are provided by organizations.

As the largest private-sector employer of women, MAS Capital is committed to ensure its female employees work in an environment that is conducive for women. In doing so, MAS joined hands with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Sri Lanka to ensure strengthened corporate policies and programmes that focus on identifying gaps and gender inequalities in the working environment.

In delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe, and that every young person’s potential is fulfilled, UNFPA understands the importance of engaging closely with the private-sector to deliver this mandate.

Through the MAS-UNPFA partnership, UNFPA will conduct perception surveys and focus-group discussions to understand the current corporate culture at MAS, after which trainings will be conducted to address inequalities and gaps that may be identified.

Speaking of the importance of this partnership, Group Human Resources Director, Shakthi Ranatunga said, “At MAS, we undertake a holistic, integrated and strategic approach to women’s empowerment as it is at the very foundation of the corporate-action framework. We are happy to enter a strategic partnership with UNFPA as it would enable us to maximise the impact of our initiatives and investments towards women’s empowerment”.

Director of Women Go Beyond, MAS, Mrs. Shaanaz Preena added, “Women’s empowerment is a key element of the MAS Culture.  With 70% of our 87,000 associates in Sri lanka and overseas being women, we are indeed privileged to be able to work with UNFPA in a manner that would benefit our majority female associates and the communities we reach, ensuring an enabling environment in their place of employment, homes and communities”.

UNFPA Representative-designate in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Ms. Ritsu Nacken, said, “As the lead UN agency addressing gender-based violence issues in Sri Lanka and the world, we are pleased to directly work with the leading private-sector employer of women in the country. Through this programme, we are focusing our efforts to mainstream gender within MAS’ existing corporate structures and systems, thereby ensuring that no one is left behind.

This initiative will be piloted with MAS Active and MAS Intimates factories, with the potential for scaling up the programme to the wider organization.