PESHAWAR: Speakers at a consultation here on Thursday urged the federal and provincial governments to provide protection to the women attached to the informal labour sector at workplace and said policies should be formulated at national and provincial level for home-based women workers.

‘The provincial consultation on taking forward policy recommendations for women workers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’ was organised by the HomeNet Pakistan (HNP) under the USAID Gender Equity Programme (GEP).

Home-based workers attended the event in large numbers.

The speakers said it was the need of the hour to strictly implement labour laws both in public and private sectors and that there should be a standardised board at federal level for the effective implementation of equal wages.

They called upon the federal and provincial governments to enforce the Harassment at Workplace Act 2010 for the protection of home-based workers.

Speakers at a discussion urge govt to enforce law against harassment at workplace

HomeNet Pakistan executive director Ume Laila Azhar said women’s rights had received poor attention in society preventing the optimal use of their potential.

She said according to a 2013 World Bank, 60 percent of the country’s population lived below poverty line.

Ume Laila said the draft domestic workers policy in Punjab had been sent to the provincial cabinet for review.

Senator Sitara Ayaz of the ANP said her party was among the pioneers of women specific initiatives and that there was a need for continuation of women-related initiatives at the provincial level.

“For all political parties, women empowerment is important. It should be mandatory for all political parties to ensure its implementation to the fullest whenever they form the government,” she said.

Chairman of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly standing committee on labour MPA Syed Jaffar Shah said the government should adopt the provincial policy for the protection of home-based workers.

He said he would take recommendations on welfare of women workers to the relevant quarters and ensure that budget is allocated for the purpose.

Mahpara Ghauri of Aurat Foundation said under a gender equity project, her organisation had taken initiatives to empower women at workplace.

She said the GEP sought to facilitate behavioural change in society by enabling women to access information, resources and institutions, and improve societal attitudes towards the women’s rights issues.

Chairperson of the Provincial Commission on Status of Women Neelum Toru said all labour laws did not cover women. She said the recommendations made by participants of the event would be promoted by the PCSW for empowerment of women workers in the province.

The speakers demanded separate toilets, prayer places and common rooms for women at workplace.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2015

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