Harassment of women employees: 40 ministries, departments made safer workplaces
ISLAMABAD: Forty ministries and departments working under the federal government have complied with the anti-sexual harassment act and incorporated the code of conduct into their policies.
This information was shared at a press conference here on Monday after the first meeting of the ‘Implementation Watch Committee’ of the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW).
The purpose of this committee is to facilitate and monitor the implementation of the recently passed legislation against sexual harassment of women. The 24-member committee includes representatives from relevant government organisations, private sector, media professionals and members of the civil society.
Parliament passed the Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010 in February. The act requires every institution, public or private, to form an inquiry committee to receive complaints against sexual harassment and institute a code of conduct prescribed by the law as a part of its human resource policies.
On the occasion, the committee’s chairperson Dr Fauzia Saeed reported the progress made so far in the implementation process.
Dr Saeed said adoption of the code by the ministries and departments was an example for others to have it as part of their policies.
She was certain that during the next few months a considerable number of organisations would have sound mechanism for addressing grievances about sexual harassment.
“In our first meeting we have set our targets and members have been assigned the tasks of monitoring the implementation process in both public and private organisations”, the committee chairperson said.
“We will ensure that all the organisations that have adopted the code shall display it on prominent place, hold awareness sessions and constitute a three-member committee to settle the cases of harassment, one of which has to be a female.”
The committee has decided to hold quarterly meetings, besides arranging training programmes for the committee members.
Replying to a question, Dr Saeed said the case for appointment of an ombudsman was with the Ministry of Women Development.
Former Citizen Police chairman Jamil Yousaf, who is one of committee members, said the number of women working in private organisations was very high, and protecting them by adopting this legislation was in the benefit of these organisations.
According to him, the first case that came before the committee was of a company’s chief executive officer. “We had to involve the FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) in the case and it took us two months to settle the issue.”
Women’s Organisation for Rights and Development director Aqsa Khan said “through this law a positive approach would flourish as far as resolution of such cases is concerned. Previously, the only solution in place was to sack the victim.”