Moot Focuses On Awareness About Woman Workers Rights

Published: August 22, 2014

Moot Focuses On Awareness About Woman Workers Rights, AN NGO working for the rights of home-based workers organised a three-day “National Grants Opening Meeting” Thursday here at a local hotel.

The conference was aimed at improving collaboration with the district-level partners of the USAID funded Gender Equity Programme (GEP) and sharing the findings of the exercise on gender-perspective labour laws analysis and seeking recommendations from the participants. The objective was to improve the lot of woman workers in formal and informal sector.

USAID and Aurat Foundation under its Gender Equity Programme (GEP) took an initiative to enhance woman workers awareness about their rights and labour laws. To meet this objective, Gender Equity Programme provided assistance to 14 partners all across Pakistan. The issues related to discrimination against woman workers in the country and their non-inclusion in labour laws and policies came into limelight at the meeting. Briefing the press, representatives from NGOs highlighted the issues facing woman workers and presented recommendations for comprehensive policies and legislation at federal and provincial levels. Mahpara Ghori said gender was one of the main organising principles in Pakistani society. An artificial divide between the roles of production and reproduction, created by the ideology of gender division of labour, has placed women in reproductive role as mothers and wives in boundaries of their houses and men in a productive role as breadwinners in the public arena, said Ghori.

This inherent bias is further reflected in the existing labour laws and policies at all levels in Pakistan – these are gender biased and are blind towards woman workers in general, said participants. The condition of woman workers from informal sector and those working on piece rate, home-based workers is even more problematic, due to the absence of any formal law or policy.

Through the initiatives and interventions at national, provincial and district level, GEP aims at focusing on the issues faced by woman workers and engaging them at the district level – both in terms of enhancing their skills, while building an understanding around their rights. For the latter, 16 advocacy campaigns will be taken across Pakistan.

Ume Laila Azhar said her organisation was a national coordinating body for the district-level advocacy campaigns being supported under GEP’s seventh grant cycle. She said the organisation would undertake national and provincial level activities supporting and facilitating the district, provincial and national level advocacy initiatives for women in the informal and the formal sectors. Women from both the formal and informal sector will be taken onboard and brought together on one platform. This is an innovative mechanism for their collective engagement in the campaign for their rights which they hope will deliver fruits, she added.

Dr Javaid Iqbal Gill, representative from Punjab Labour Department said labour laws in the country were inherently biased against women and the government was working on making them women-friendly. He referred to a gender-based survey of existing labour laws, which he has done recently, and told the media personnel that there was very little for woman workers in these laws. Most of these laws were drafted in times when it was hard to perceive a woman as a worker, he added.

It was highlighted by the participants during this meeting that there were no first aid facilities, anti-harassment committees were missing, employee retention rates were poor, woman workers had no linkages with safety nets, right to association were compromised due to lack of trade unions, transportation was available to very few, wages were far less than what a male worker would get for the same amount of work, maternity laws were applied partially or not at all and employment of contractors was rampant.

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