ISLAMABAD: Uks Research Centre held a Women Workers Convention here in Rawalpindi with the support of Gender Equity Program (GEP) of Aurat Foundation supported by USAID. Titled “Towards Recognition and Mobilization – The State and Status of Home-based and Domestic Women Workers” aimed to highlight the role of women workers as constituents of the country’s informal economy. In the run up to a series of five training workshops for women workers, this convention aimed to spread a mass message among women workers to rally for their rights, and mobilize women workers for advocacy and activism on labor laws and policies. Nearly two hundred women workers participated in this convention in anticipation of their recognition as workers and their corresponding legal rights.
Moderating the session, Fauzia Sabeen, Advocate, High Court put forward the question for the guest speakers on highlighting the reasons that are preventing the State from recognizing women workers from the informal sector and respective policy-making.
Claiming that lack of data on informal workers was a major impediment in any policy-making, Ms. Ambreen Ajaib, Senior Gender Specialist, Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) appreciated that this convention was another step towards providing a platform for initiating a discussion on the issue. She urged the workers to raise their voice for their rights rather than waiting for the State to come to their rescue.
Liaquat from District Labor Department informed that 33 percent representation of women in the Social Security and Factory Management Boards has been a positive step towards women workers rights and a window for their voices to be heard in the upper echelons.
Providing immediate possible solutions to participants, Dr. Saifullah Chaudhry, CEO, Development Impact Solutions (DES), added that law making is the responsibility of the government no matter how much International Conventions are made, and implementation is also the State’s responsibility. To speed up policy-making and legal rights, the participants need to register themselves with NADRA, to apply for Social Security Cards, to form unions – even small scale – and to knock on all doors -from Labor departments, political parties, and even the media – until their demands are met.
Mohammad Yaseen, General Secretary Capital Development Authority (CDA) Labour Union mentioned that a Women Wing in CDA Labour Union has been formed recently and ten percent in the union for formal women workers. He added that he hopes the same for informal workers to have a formal union and strong representation for informal women workers.
Sharing the Women Workers Charter of Demands Ms. Fauzia Sabeen urged including informal women workers recognition as ‘workers’, National Policy on informal workers draft that sits unattended in the National Assembly, Formation of Union for informal workers and its legal registration- their existing ones remain unregistered. She suggested that Amendment of definition of ‘workers’ in the existing laws for formal workers could make existing laws applicable to the informal workers as well.
“Enhancing women workers, awareness on their rights and labor laws” is designed to empower women workers by enhancing their knowledge of labor rights and organizing them into groups in District Islamabad. This is one of the fourteen parallel efforts across Pakistan.
Uks is a Research, Resource and Publication Centre, dedicated to the cause of gender equality and women’s development. Uks’s team of professional media persons and research staff aims to promote the reflection of a neutral, balanced and unbiased approach to women and women’s issues within, and through the media. The Center has already won the support of many journalists, human rights and women’s rights activists, academics and other like-minded groups.