KARACHI      -       Speakers at a seminar here on Saturday demanded an end to violence against women and called for early registration of home-based workers.

According to details, Home-Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) arranged a seminar on the occasion of the 16-day international movement to end violence and harassment of women. The seminar titled “Role of women in national economy” was held at Gadap Town, Karachi, with HBWWF general secretary Zehra Khan in the chair. The moot was named after late activists, Comrade Najma Khanum, Rehana Kousar, Abdul Salam and Wahid Baloch, and attended by a large number of home-based women workers.

Addressing the seminar, Zehra Khan said every year human rights activists observe 16 days from November 25 to December 10 to demand end to violence against women. This movement was started in 1981, in memory of three revolutionary sisters, Patria, Minerva, María Teresa, and Dedé, who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo (El Jefe) in Dominican Republic and were involved in clandestine activities against his regime. Later, these three sisters were murdered on November 25, 1960 on behest of the dictator. She said these women are now known in world as the Mirabal sisters and their assassination turned them into “symbols of both popular and feminist resistance”. In 1999, in the sisters’ honour, the United Nations General Assembly designated 25 November the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Zehra Khan said today women in entire world are fighting gender, class and social injustice. In Pakistan also women, especially home-based women workers, are writing a new history of a brave struggle. They, for the first time in history of Pakistan, established a federation of home-based women workers and played a crucial role in getting recognition for more than five million home-based workers in Sindh. Due to their struggle, legislation for the rights of home-based women workers was made in Sindh province on May 9, 2018 under which their registration would be made possible to give them their legal rights.

United Home-based Garment Workers Union general secretary SairaFeroze said that women in Pakistan have been playing an important role in development of the national economy, but sadly they are deprived of their due rights. She said that they do not get proper wages equal to the wages of male workers. They earn less than 2 dollars despite working for whole day, which is not sufficient to survive in the age of price hike. She said raising prices of edibles has become a trend of the sitting government, adding 60percent population of Pakistan is living beneath the poverty line. She said women workers cannot even pay their transport fares, rent and utility bills of their homes.

National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor said women are facing a dual oppression. The feudal system have made them virtual slave and the capitalist society is exploiting them as a source of cheap labor. Growing incidents of sexual violence show that the laws do not practically work to give women protection from violence and torture.

In the Human Development Index, Pakistan is at the 153th place, which is lowest in whole South Asia. The literacy rate of girls is less than literacy rate of boys. Women workers do not get equal wages. Their wages are about 40percent less than the wages of male workers. They are deprived of registration in social security institutions and forming trade unions is made very difficult for them, he said.

 

The incidents of sexual harassment of women at workplaces are rising with every passing day. They are being treated as third class citizens. However despite all these difficulties and challenges, women workers are getting them organized and playing their role also in ongoing pro-democracy movements in the country, said Mansoor.

 

The seminar demanded from the chief minister of Sindh to ensure implementation of the Home-based Workers Act and start work of collecting their data, their registration and issuing them cards. They demanded of the Sindh assembly to pass a bill to legalize the process of getting home-based workers registered with the social security institutions.

 

They asked that all sorts of violence and discrimination against women should be ended that they should be given equal opportunities for their progress and prosperity. All home-based workers should be registered with social security institutions. Notice should be taken of incidents of sexual harassment at workplaces and in educational institutions. Women workers should be given wages as per law and gender-based discrimination should be ended. Vigilances committees should be formed in factories and workplaces against harassment of women.

 

Those spoke included NTUF Sindh president Rafiq Baloch, HBWWF leader ShabnamAzam, Zahida Mukhtar Perveen and others.

 

ENDS