ISLAMABAD: Despite claims made by successive governments, difficulties of working women could not be reduced as not only they remain deprived of basic facilities but are also given less wages compared to the male workers.

This was stated by Zahir Shah, a researcher at Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability (TDEA), while giving details of the “Workplace Monitoring Report 2018” which will be released soon.

As many as 105 public/private workplaces and factories were surveyed in Islamabad and the four provincial capitals to prepare the report.

Mr Shah was speaking at a ‘Women workers’ convention’ organised by TDEA here on Thursday.

“Though the minimum wage has been fixed in the country and all the private and public sector organisations are bound to implement it, women workers still get less than that, or they are paid much lower compared to the wages of male workers.”

He said during the survey it was observed that 14pc private and public institutions lacked separate toilets for women and 84pc institutions and 90pc factories had no daycare centres.

“It was also observed that 69pc workplaces lacked sexual harassment committees and only in 29pc workplaces actions were taken against employees for sexual harassment,” he said.

About the social security status, Mr Shah said 87pc private and public sector workplaces and 45pc factories were not registered with the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI).

“As many as 80pc workplaces lacked labour unions and women sections of labour unions hardly existed in any organisation. Moreover, employees were found unaware of the importance of their contracts due to which it was not possible for them to protect their rights,” he said.

Senior journalist Mohammad Ziauddin said though there were issues in the past, things had started improving with the passage of time and awareness was also increasing.

“During my 55 years of profession, I have observed that women are more responsible, successful and hardworking. Oscar Award winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is one of the examples,” he said.

Lady Health Worker (LHW) Fozia Aarain, who came from Jacobabad, said though it was difficult for women they should come out of their houses.

“I decided to come out and start a struggle for the rights of LHWs and managed to regularise the services of 125,000 LHWs through the Supreme Court of Pakistan. I could not give proper education to my children but now I am encouraging all girls in my family to get higher education and join different professions,” she said.

Architect Sumaira Abid said the journey was not over and there was a lot more to be done.

Advocate Talat Rizwan said such events should also be held in other cities for the benefit of the women of rural areas. “There is a need to make laws and ensure their implementation,” he added.

Journalist Myra Imran said women had started getting education and now in some universities there were more female students and faculty than males.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2018