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Coconut Product Diversification And Economic Empowerment Of Women In Sri Lanka

This paper specifically highlights the role and responsibilities of women in the coconut industry and the extent of their economic empowerment in the agriculture sector. Although the female population in Sri Lanka represents 51% of the total population with high literacy rate, long life span and health, the degree of participation of women in the labour force is very much lower (33.6%) compared to men, except for agricultural sector in which about one half of the workers are women. The paper stated that a large portion of employed women falls under the category of unpaid family workers both in the urban and rural sectors indicating that women’s contribution to the economy is undervalued to a great extent. Planners and data collectors perceive most women as dependent wives of farmers rather than as farmers and producers. In large and small coconut plantations, women work mostly as laborers involved in picking/ collecting of nuts, manuring, weeding, while male do the heavy work. Women earn only marginal income barely enough for their daily life. The paper identified coconut-based handicrafts, production of virgin coconut oil, treacle and jaggery making as potential areas where women can engage to generate additional income. A number of recommendations were also presented in the paper with a view to uplift women's economic status for poverty alleviation.

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