Govt must establish monitoring committees to stop gender harassment of women workers

Muhammad Asad

ISLAMABAD: Government must establish Departmental Monitoring Committees to Stop Gender/ sexual harassment of Women workers and provide them Conducing environment at Workplaces in Govt and Private firms. It was demanded by the leaders of women rights defender organization “Women Workers Alliance” (WWA) in a media interaction in Islamabad today.

Zoom into: – A women activist group” Women Workers Alliance” take up an initiative to protect the working women from gender and sexual harassment from their male colleagues and bosses at workplace.

Big Picture: – A Islamabad based women activists’ group “Women Workers Alliance” (WWA) comprising of women government employees and private sector workers is actively working for protecting working women’s rights in collaboration with an NGO, Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO). The Convenor of WWA, Ms. Zaida Khan told the media that they have collected data on working women from different organizations including Hospitals, School and Colleges, local government offices, private firms, banks, and factories.  They accused the factories and mills owners for not cooperating with them during collection of data regarding their women workers.

According to another women activist, Ms. Mussarit Jabeen, about 60 % institutions do not have any institutional committee for addressing sexual harassment cases of women workers. More than 83 % institutions are not having day care facilities, while 21% workplaces do not have separate washrooms for women workers and they are compelled to use male washrooms. According to women leaders, about 72 % institutions neither grant maternity leave to their women workers nor extend any relaxation to them during their pregnancy period.

The women right defender stated that about 35% institutions do not provide any medical facility to their workers, while about 75 % institutions do not have workers unions due to reason women workers could not raise their voice for their rights through a proper channel.

Ms. Mehar Nigar said that about 67 % institutions do not provide pension and EOBI benefits to their old aged women workers. She said that government should undertake such legislations to provide healthy and secure environment to women health workers in government offices and private sectors business.  The women leaders specifically mentioned that there is huge discrimination in term of their salary or financial benefits for their services as compared to their male colleagues.

Demands from Government: – The leadership of women workers alliance (WWA) urged the government to fulfill their demands to honor the provisions of constitution of Pakistan regarding working women rights. They said that government should bound the public and private institutions to provide day care facilities, maternity leave, separate washrooms, and equal salary for women workers. They also demanded to legislate for “Hidhat leave” for women workers in case of their husband death. Government must ensure the pension and EOBI benefits for women workers and legislate for suitable representation of women in union associations. The Departmental committees should be established to address the complaints of sexual harassment and the list of nominees should be displayed at prominent places so any victim women can reach the concern officials easily.

Way forward: – The Woman Workers Alliance (WWA) expressed its resolve to approach to concern Ministries of the government of Pakistan to get due support for legal assistance to fulfill the dream of working women.