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12 May 2022

‘Only 25pc women with degrees in Pakistan are part of labour force’

SLAMABAD: Only 25pc of the women with university degrees in Pakistan are part of the country’s labour force.

This was highlighted at a session organised by Sustainable Social Development Organisation (SSDO) and the Women Workers Alliance (WWA) at the National Press Club (NPC) on Wednesday. Members of the session later participated in a mini walk to advocate for greater budget allocations and stronger implementation of labour laws.

Besides, the session was informed that majority of the women find themselves employed in the informal sector, where working conditions are even worse. There is no regulation and very little recourse for complaints.

The WWA is a group of female workers from 14 districts with provincial coalitions and a national body and has been working for women’s labour rights by mobilising and empowering female workers from diverse backgrounds. The event was attended by a myriad of workers from academia, media, law, civil society and the private sector.

Members of the WWA Mussarat Jabeen, Zahida Perveen and Mehar Nigar briefed mediapersons on issues that were plaguing female workers based on their personal experiences as well as through regular workplace monitoring that was conducted by the alliance.

Ms Mussarat stressed on the importance of standard work hours besides health and safety measures at the workplace. Ms Zahida advocated for the ratification of C-190 of the International Labour Organisation considering that Pakistan already had legislation in place that covered harassment against women in the workplace.

She also discussed the issue of minimum wage, adding that organisations exploited workers and paid them below the minimum wage. Furthermore, she said the minimum wage also needed to be re-evaluated keeping in view the rising cost of living and ever-increasing inflation.

Members of the WWA jointly put forward their demands to the government to ensure greater budget allocations for social security and safety nets, such as pensions and healthcare so that a decent standard of living could be ensured for all.

Speaking on the occasion, NPC Finance Secretary Nayyer Ali said journalists were ready to provide their support towards advocating for labour rights.

SSDO Executive Director Syed Kausar Abbas said collaborative efforts were needed to ensure that labour laws were implemented. Moreover, he also reiterated commitment towards ensuring greater awareness to the masses through trainings and social media campaigns.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2022

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