ISLAMABAD: A joint declaration to improve the working conditions of women was agreed upon by a national collective of female workers employed in formal sectors and 13 Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CCIs). It has also called upon the government to incentivise employers for compliance with labour standards in line with international conventions and national laws.

Both parties, Women Workers Alliance (WWA) and the CCIs have resolved to establish working groups in several districts including Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Haripur, Gujranwala, Mardan, Rahimyar Khan, Sukkur, Faisalabad, Jhelum and Mirpurkhas. The decision was taken at a gathering. These groups will give workers a chance to resolve issues related to provision of minimum wage, employees’ contracts and harassment.

The government has been urged to update labour laws, ensure their enforcement and introduce administrative measures.

Ambassador of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Wouter Plomp, Parliamentary Secretary for Commerce Aliya Hamza Malik, chairperson Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Shandana Gulzar Khan, Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability (TDEA) Director Programmes Muddassir Rizvi, and EWAM Team Lead Uzma Farogh also addressed participants of the gathering.

Ms Gulzar stressed on the need for the government to take ownership of issues being faced by female employees whereas Ms Malik underscored the importance of taking into account the perspective of women on issues related to commerce and trade in the country.

Mr Rizvi said that the WWA has not only challenged dominant patriarchal ideas that had undervalued the work of women but their unique approach of coordination and collaboration has been helpful in setting new practices for trade unionism.

Towards the end of the programme, Mr Plomp said that recognition of an issue is the first step towards its resolution. He recognised the declaration as a major leap towards enhanced economic participation of women in workplaces. The gathering of representatives of employers and workers was facilitated by Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability (TDEA) under its project Enhancing Women Workers Access to Market (EWAM), which is supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2022

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