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Women & Media Collective makes post-lockdown policy recommendations for marginalised communities

RETAIL LOCKDOWN: Most of Sri Lanka’s shops have remained closed for almost two months.

ECONOMYNEXT – The Women and Media Collective have made short and long term policy recommendations to the government for post COVID-19 lockdown relief and recovery, targeting low-income families, daily wage earners and vulnerable communities living in the Colombo district.

The Collective said in a press release that the pandemic, the nature of the responses to it and the consequences of those responses affected low income and poor communities very differently and unequally. The recommendations made, it said, are a reflection of these differences that are the result of deep-seated systemic and structural inequalities.

Among the short term recommendations is a call for equitable distribution of state funds.

“Aid must not be politicized and all assistance from the President’s Fund or any cabinet approved funding must be distributed equitably irrespective of people’s political affiliations. Assistance provided by the State must not be attributed to any political party and State resources must not be abused in the run-up to the Parliamentary elections.”

Targeted livelihood restoration schemes should be introduced to meet the needs of all informal sector workers and the daily waged, the Collective said, adding that daily waged workers should be supported for a minimum six months (April to September 2020), with a monthly stipend, so that they can restart their livelihoods without incurring further debt.

Long term recommendations include a suggestion to strengthen social and community networks that operate at the ground level and provide them with reliable information for immediate community transmission, to reach communities that do not have easy access to government information sources.

With respect to violence against women, the Collective recommends that the government introduce state-assisted shelters for at-risk women and children who are in danger of domestic or intimate partner violence, have sustained injuries, made formal complaints or requested protection or relocation, particularly in the context of a spike in violence during the lockdown. These shelters can be run by professional CSOs in conjunction with local government authorities.

For at-risk communities, such as the elderly and the disabled, the Women and Media Collective recommends the extension of the Rs 5,000 allowance for the elderly and disabled belonging to low-income families for six months from March 2020. “This is so that they are able to attend to their medical and other needs without burdening family members where income is affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

As relief measures to the LBGTIQ+ community and sex workers, the Collective recommends that the government provide an option of legitimate but safe registration through NGOs or community-based organizations, they trust and are authorized to process such registrations so that relief and other assistance can reach these marginalized communities. (Colombo/Jul17/2020-sb)

Click here for the full list of recommendations: Policy Recommendations for Post COVID-19 Lockdown Relief and Recovery

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