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Rights activists urge government to protect women workers rights.

FAISALABAD -- The government must bound employers to adopt code of conduct for gender justice to safeguard the interests of women workers, and create safe working environment free of harassment, abuse and intimidation, where they could feel secure and work with dignity contributing to higher productivity and a better quality of life at workplace.

These demands were made by the trainers during a training workshop entitled "Enhancing Awareness on Women Rights and Labour Laws" held at Faisalabad. 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. The event was joined by women workers from formal and informal sectors including; home based workers, domestic workers, brickkiln workers, factory workers and lady health workers.

They further demanded that government must protect rights of home based workers, domestic workers and ensure maternity benefits through ratification and implementation of ILO conventions C177, C189 & C183 respectively, and bring them under regulation by recognizing them as part of labor force in labor codes and extending social and legal protection coverage to workers engaged in informal sector.

The government must take effective measures to monitor the brickkiln and factories especially and enforce existing labour laws in letter and spirit to stop exploitation of workers' rights.

Speaking on the event, the director of the AWAM, Nazia Sardar said, "The sufferings of the women workers will not come to an end unless they get organized under a trade union or association, improve their knowledge and skills about labor laws, and take collective stand against the exploitation and repression towards them." "It is imperative for trade unionists to make women workers part of any movement or trade unions in order to enhance their confidence leading to their empowerment, so that they could independently initiative struggle for the rights of women workers, as there are rare trade unions for the rights of homebased workers, domestic workers, brickkiln workers and lady health workers," she added.

A women rights advocate, Shazia George said, "The vast majority of sexual offences go unreported and of those that are reported few result in prosecutions and even fewer in convictions due to stigma attributed to victims. There is still a gap between legislation and implementation of laws resulting in exploitation of women rights. It is a common perception that when the state fails to prosecute the perpetrators, it not only encourages further abuse, but government's inaction gives the impression that male violence against females is acceptable." "Alongside legislation to deal with various forms of violence against women, the government must take substantive measures to devise an efficient monitoring system for strict implementation of prowomen laws, and must train forces responsible for the implementation of laws protecting vulnerable groups," she demanded.

A women rights activist, Zarfishan Nasir said, "Human rights are not a privilege granted by the few, they are a liberty entitled to all being a human being. Human right is a universal standard, which is the basic component of every religion and every civilization. Denying people from their human rights is equivalent to challenging their humanity, and fundamental violations of human rights always lead to people feeling less and less human." "Homebased workers and domestic workers are denied any form of legal protection, including a minimum wage guarantee, social security and EOBI benefits, for not having a status of a worker. Therefore, the women workers must improve their skills in collective bargaining for their empowerment," she added.
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Publication:The Frontier Star (Northwest Frontier Province, Pakistan)
Date:Jan 29, 2015
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