LAHORE - Speakers at a symposium have stressed the need for encouraging women to play due role in economic well being of own family and development and prosperity of the country. Highlighting difficulties faced by women at workplaces, they said that it was encouraging that working women were growing in number. They said that now women were not silent and ready to raise voice against discrimination and harassment.

SANGAT Development Foundation (SDF) arranged the event in collaboration with Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Working Women Alliance and Working Women Unity on Friday to mark National Working Women Day.

Addressing the participants, Founder President of WCCI Dr Shehla Javaid appreciated Working Women Alliance in highlighting and making sincere efforts in addressing the issues of working women. She stressed the need of standing against violation of rights of women. She urged raising awareness about basic rights and existing laws. She said that it was a pity that Sexual Harassment Law has not been implemented at most of the institution. But where it was implemented, she said, inquiry committee usually gave decisions in the favour of complainants. “Women are breaking silence and there is considerable increase in the number of cases reported by women against Sexual harassment at workplaces”, she said.

President WCCI Faiza Amjad said that married women were usually not encouraged at the workplaces. She said that having children and household responsibilities were considered hurdles in work.

Zahid Islam said that ending discrimination and violence against women and girls was aim of SDF.

“We have plans that can bring revolutionary changes. It is all about respect. Gender equality cannot be achieved until we start respecting women at workplaces. Men should treat the women with dignity and give them due respect”, he said.

Asma Aamir said that women face discrimination and violence at workplaces regardless of their social status, class or age. For many of them, time to report the incident has not come yet because speaking out could have fatal consequences. “Being a women’s rights defender, I feel, it is my duty to encourage the working women to speak out and report. Women are not show pieces in the offices. Competent women deserve wages like male counterparts”, she said.

Sumaira Abid said that sexual harassment was not the only issue. They face discriminations like low wages, no sick leaves, no maternity leaves, she said.

Afshan Khan said that working women were contributing in the development of the country. She said that situation at workplaces has improved but still there was room for further improvement.

At the end of the event, micro success stories of women at workplaces were shared.

IQTIDAR GILANI