Pressing need for awareness of working women’s rights: HRCP
KARACHI: There is a pressing need for greater awareness of working women’s rights, ensuring equal pay for equal work, irrespective of gender, and recognition of women’s contribution to society and the national economy, a consultation organised by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Monday concluded. Participants of the consultation on ‘women’s wages and employment’ called upon the government to recognise home-based workers (HBW) and domestic workers as labour so that the cover of social security could be extended to them. The participants in the deliberations said that the informal sector contributed 35 percent to the national economy and employed millions of workers, especially women. It was thus a matter of grave concern that these workers could neither unionise nor demand minimum wage or claim any of the other entitlements available to workers under Pakistan’s law and the country’s international human rights commitments. Khalida Ghous, a prominent human rights activist, presented a paper on employment trends, gender-based discrimination and exploitation and the wage gap between men and women engaged in identical or substantially similar work. Zehra Ali, senior office-bearer of a federation of domestic workers’ organizations, focused on HBWs and domestic workers, stating that in arriving at a coherent policy for these workers a particular difficulty had been agreeing on a uniform minimum wage because of the diverse nature of their work, particularly since HBWs were skilled workers. Social worker Dr Sajjad Ahmed made a presentation about occupational hazards and other health concerns for working women and the various issues regarding maternity leave. An exhaustive presentation on labour laws by Farhat Parween, civil society activist, highlighted the importance of collective bargaining for women workers. The participants included a large number of women workers, students, social activists, female doctors, civil society organisation representatives.