South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Published in The Pakistan Christian Post on Oct. 27 ::

A women workers convention entitled “Women Workers and Safe Working Environment” was held at TMA Hall in Faisalabad on October 20, 2014 by engaging women workers, parliamentarians, government officials and civil society groups. The event was hosted by the Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM), implementing project of “Enhancing Women Workers’ Awareness on their Rights & Labor Laws” under the Gender Equity Program (GEP) of Aurat Foundation by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

At this juncture, Baba Najmi (Renowned Poet) recited his revolutionary poetry on labor rights to highlight issues of workers, and response of rulers, while Shazia George (Program Manager-AWAM) joined the event as master of the ceremony.

Speaking on the occasion, a member of the Punjab Assembly, Dr. Najma Afzal said, “The government has made remarkable strides for the empowerment of women by ensuring their significant representation in all fields of life. Undoubtedly, females face obstacles in life due to a mindset that puts them in a position of inferiority, therefore, females must focus on improving their talent and skills, and must struggle for the defense of their due rights.”

The executive director of working women organization, Aima Mehmood said, “The women workers must unite and organize themselves to build a strong unified voice for the protection of their rights. The real change will come, and the issues of workers will get resolved, when the true representatives of workers are elected to raise voice on the floor of the parliament.” “The absence of legal cover for home-based workers is a conspiracy to shift workplace from factories to homes, and prevent formation of labor unions for their due rights,” she added.

A labor rights activist, Aslam Wafa said, “The labor rights of workers are violated, because the departments of labor, social security and EOBI are not strong enough to ensure enforcement of labor laws in letter and spirit to stop exploitation of worker’s rights.”

A representative of labor department, Asghar Gill said, “The parliamentarians must make strict labor laws to protect workers’ rights and take action against employers violating labor rights and laws by not getting their factories/industries registered and giving employment benefits to workers.”

A human rights activist, Naseem Anthony said, “The women workers must improve their skills in collective bargaining for their empowerment. The Employer should make sure that the women workers have safety health protection especially for those women who are doing hazardous work, and must adopt code of conduct for gender justice against sexual harassment to create favorable environment at workplaces.”

The executive director of the AWAM, Nazia Sardar said, “The women workers must own their identity with pride and dignity, and avoid hiding it.” “The labor laws and policies must be framed after consultation with all the stakeholders, and every labor policy must have a separate section for the women workers which may also include time frame and action plan for the implementation of pro-women provisions. The ILO conventions 177 and 189 must be ratified to protect domestic workers and home-based workers,” she demanded.

A lawyer, Hashmat Barkat said, “The women workers face exploitation and violence, therefore the government must regularize peasant workers, domestic workers and home-based workers to extend social and legal protection to them.”

The grant holder of GEP, Sumera Saleem said, “The women workers must play leadership role and join trade unions to collectively fight for the protection of their due rights.”