Gender Equality

A human right

Gender Equality is a human right. It is a necessary foundation for a peaceful and sustainable world and critical to forming a prosperous society.  

With less than 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. 

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls on all countries to step up efforts aimed at gender equality. Sri Lanka has made significant progress in its efforts, despite structural barriers and societal norms that perpetuate gender stereotypes being in place, forcing many women and girls to continue to suffer discrimination and violence. 

Numbers show

  • Out of the 8.5 million economically active population, 72% 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 2021 is 33.6% 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. 

Our wins

The Gender Equality Seal is an innovative programme to achieve excellency standards to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. UNDP in Sri Lanka has achieved the Gold Gender Equality Seal in recognition of its intensive efforts towards advancing gender equality.  

UNDP Sri Lanka wins Gold


Additionally, UNDP is committed to creating an inclusive and safe workplace by pursuing gender parity across all staff levels and strengthening policy measures on addressing sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse.  

UNDP maintains strong partnerships with the United Nations system, development partners, Government, and civil society organisations including women’s groups, media and the private sector to advance gender equality and achieve sustainable development.  

Leaders in Governance

    Social Innovators 

      Change Makers 

        Sexual and Gender-Based Violence 

          Travelling Exhibition

            A mobile interactive space to celebrate the resilience of Sri Lankan communities supported through UNDP Sri Lanka's efforts across the years to address barriers to gender equality and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV). From its inception in November 2023 in Kandy, this exhibition has evolved into a dynamic platform for dialogue and empowerment, now expanding to six additional locations across Sri Lanka.

            Through interactive exhibits and engaging discussions, we showcase role models and heroines from across Sri Lanka, creating a platform to share stories of women’s resilience and inspiration. In doing so, we aim to foster dialogue and idea generation on gender transformation and women empowerment, whilst highlighting protracted issues such as SGBV that are reflections of deep-rooted discrimination and disparities.