Gender equity and equality

A human right

Gender Equality is a human right. It is a necessary foundation for a peaceful and sustainable world and advancing gender equality is critical to all areas of a healthy society.

With only a decade left to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is crucial to ensure that every person has equal access to education, healthcare, decent work, a life free from discrimination and abuse, and representation in political and economic decision-making.

Sri Lanka has made significant progress towards achieving gender equality. However, in the face of structural barriers and societal norms that perpetuate gender stereotypes, many women and girls continue to suffer discrimination and violence.

Numbers show

  • Out of the 8.6 million economically active population, 64% are males and only 35% are females.
  • Women constitute 52% of Sri Lanka’s population, but female representation in parliament is only 5.3%.
  • The labour force participation of women as of 2017 is 36.6% of the total population. 
  • According to the findings of the study conducted in 2019 by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 90% of Sri Lankan women and girls have faced sexual harassment in public buses and trains at least once in their lifetime.


What we do

Gender equality is central to our work. UNDP believes that gender inequalities and discriminatory attitudes and practices that hold women back, must be confronted and eliminated, if we are to leave no one behind.  

In Sri Lanka, UNDP supports the Government and key partners to eliminate gender inequalities through targeted, gender-focused programmes and by working to ensure that all development efforts take into account the experiences, needs, and contributions of women.

Improving access to justice for survivors of gender-based violence, ending impunity for perpetrators and providing survivors with multi-sectoral support and services are some of the key work carried out by UNDP in Sri Lanka. 

As women are found to be more vulnerable to poverty and exclusion, UNDP promotes women’s participation in the decisions that affect their lives, and helps build resilience to disasters, climate change and conflict.



1 in 3


experience sexual and gender-based violence in Sri Lanka.


Gender Brochure
Gender Equality Strategy 2018 - 2021 in EST
Policy on Workplace Harassment in EST
Policy for Protection against Retaliation in EST
Gender mainstreaming in Programmes

Explore more


UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Sri Lanka 
Go to UNDP Global