Civil society and women rights activists briefed media persons on Wednesday about issues that are plaguing women workers.
Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO) and the Women Workers Alliance (WWA) had arranged the media briefing and mini-walk at the National Press Club to advocate for greater budget allocations, ensuring minimum wage and stronger implementation of labour laws.
They drew the media’s attention to a policy brief by the Asian Development Bank according to which only 25pc of women in Pakistan with university degrees are part of the labour force.
The WWA is a group of women workers from 14 districts of Pakistan with provincial coalitions and a national body and has been working on women’s labour rights by mobilizing and empowering women workers from diverse backgrounds.
Ms. Mussarat stressed the importance of ensuring the issuance of appointment letters, that all employees work standard hours (they do not work too much or too little) and the importance of health and safety measures in the workplace. Ms. Zahida, advocated for the ratification of C-190 of the International Labour Organization, especially considering that Pakistan already has legislation in place that covers harassment against women in the workplace. She also discussed the issue of minimum wage, as many organizations exploit workers and pay them below the minimum wage. Furthermore, she stressed that the minimum wage also needs to be re-evaluated, so that it becomes a living wage. To do so, it needs to keep up with the rising costs of living, as well as the ever-increasing inflation.
The 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 decent standard of living be ensured for all. Ms. Nayyer Ali, Secretary Finance of the NPC commended the efforts of the WWA, and stated that journalists are ready to provide their support to advocating for Labour Rights.
Speaking at the event, Syed Kausar Abbas, Executive Director SSDO, thanked the alliance members for their efforts in promoting women’s labour rights and advocating for gender-sensitive workplaces. He also stated that collaborative efforts are needed to ensure greater compliance of labour laws, and that SSDO is committed to bringing on board all stakeholders, including the District Administration, Labour Department, legal fraternity, civil society and media. Moreover, he also reiterated SSDO’s commitment to ensuring greater awareness to the masses through training, IEC material and social media campaigns.