The theme chosen for this year's World Women's Day 2021 collaboration is to ensure gender equality in the future world of COVID. In operational conditions, the apparel factory women workers in Asia faced direct consequences with COVID 19. We think it is important to ensure the dignity for apparel women workers in Sri Lanka by highlighting their real situation.

Regardless of the contribution of women workers in earning foreign exchange to strengthen the economy, the issues they face due to the pandemic have been critical and so has the lack of social dignity and recognition towards their role. Its accuracy will be confirmed by the experiences of garment women workers in Sri Lanka.

The inability to return to hometowns, rejections by boarding house owners, suspension of transport facilities after re-opening that was provided till then, cutting down the attendance allowance, removing the attendance allowance, not providing incentives, depriving morning and afternoon meals were some challenges workers faced during and following the lift of the imposed island wide curfew due to COVID 19. Using the prevailing circumstances where all workers could not report to work, employers terminated many workers without due compensation.

As claimed by the Joint Apparel Association Forum at the onset of the pandemic, they've been successful in reducing from the 500,000 garment factory workers employed then up to 200,000. However, when comparing 2019 export figures with 2020 it is evident that the factories have succeeded in producing the quantity despite the shortfall of workers.

At a time when International Women's Day is being celebrated, Next Manufacturing Company at Katunayake Free Trade Zone and factories of Sumithra Hasalaka Ltd at Negombo took every effort to destroy the trade unions formed by its workers.

In a context where the apparel women workers in Sri Lanka are deprived of their fundamental rights in the pretext of COVID 19, we affirm the following measures to ensure equal treatment towards apparel women workers on this International Women's Day.

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