KARACHI   -  A conference lauded the role of women in workers’ movement and regretted that women workers in Pakistan, especially home-based women workers, were still deprived of their due rights and privileges.

The Home-based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) arranged a discussion on the topic of “Role of Women in Workers’ Movement”, which was attended by a large number of home-based women workers.

The speakers said women workers are the most efficient contributors to economy but regretfully they are being brutally exploited. They said that decent and equal wages are still a distant dream for women workers.

They said according to a report of the International Labour Organization (ILO) the number of women workers in the garment sector alone has risen by 33 percent. However, sadly the women workers are also facing violence and discriminatory attitude, which is affecting their social and economic life. In Pakistan the gender-based violence is a reality, and society overall justifies it on the basis of traditions, culture, beliefs and morality.

They said the constitution of Pakistan gives equality to citizens and abolishes gender-based discrimination in its articles 4, 8, 25, 27 and 32. The silence of the government and society over violence and discriminatory treatment to women, which is violation of human rights, is a serious matter. Occurrence of these incidents is increasing rapidly and no practical steps are seen to end this menace. Though the national assembly had passed a Bill against harassment of women at workplace in 2010 but its practical implementation is yet to be seen.

Today, maltreatment of women at workplaces is still in vogue and not only this but also the women workers are given less wages as compared to male workers. Mostly women workers work under contractor system and hence they are deprived of all legal and constitutional rights, which they deserve in capacity of ‘worker’.

They said that in fact the workers’ rights are real human rights and without understanding this point a gender justice could not be given to society. But in Pakistan the economic conditions are deteriorating sharply. Resultantly, women and specially working women suffer more, as they have already been braving harms of gender injustice. To save them from this dismal situation, the women workers have the only option to raise strong voice against their exploitation. They should wage an organized struggle against this exploitation and join the workers’ movement in a large number. It was resolve in the seminar that the women will take active part in politics and at initial phase they will pitch themselves as a candidate in coming local bodies election with their pro-peoples agenda.

The speakers included Saira Feroze, United HB garment workers union, Mamoona from HBWWF, Zahida Mukhtiar of HB United Workers Union, Nasir Mansoor National Trade Union Federation, Zehra Khan central general secretary of HBWWF, and Mushtaq Ali of Agriculture General Workers Union.