FAISALABAD: Speakers at a gathering have urged the government to set up a GSP Plus monitoring system at all levels and allocate five per cent income earned from the facility for women specific projects.

The gathering was organised by Women Concerns Network (WCN), Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM) and Pattan Development Organisation on Sunday in connection with International Women’s Day under the theme of “Working Women – GSP Plus and International Conventions.”

The European Union had awarded GSP Plus status to Pakistan last year allowing it to exports products to 27 member countries without any duties.

Addressing the gathering, Sarwar Bari, national coordinator of Pattan, said: “The GSP Plus has created a huge space for all of us to improve governance and women’s status in Pakistan.”

He said failure of the government to implement the conventions of the GSP Plus would be the failure of the labour leaders and human rights defenders too. He said making government accountable for its failures was duty of civil society.

Ome Kulsoom, president of WCN, said by establishing strong local councils having administrative, political and financial independence could help the government implement GSP Plus. She said the country had already earned more than $1 billion due to GSP Plus, but the government had failed to give any benefit to workingwomen and men.

Members of such councils must be elected directly, she suggested.

Sabra Asmat, president Punjab chapter of WCN, said women in Pakistan contributed hugely to national and household economy but they were being treated badly. This mindset must be changed, she added.

Mian Qayyum of LQM said the labour leadership should think how to influence and contribute towards public policy. “Should we continue acting as a pressure group or we should transform into a political movement?” He said in his view, the best way forward was to be a part of political struggle for change.

Latif Ansari, Aslam Meraj and others also spoke on the occasion.

The speakers unanimously adopted a resolution that for improving women’s status the government must ensure their economic well-being and set up women-run mobile monitoring teams in each district.

The resolution said the government should establish the GSP Plus monitoring system at all levels.

The government should allocate 5pc of the income earned from GSP Plus for women specific projects. The labour department must be empowered to inspect factories and challan those who violate labour laws.

Published in Dawn March 9th , 2015

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