Islamabad : Women and girls representing civil society, media, academia, girl guides association, scouts, transgender community and persons with special needs participated in the ‘Women Cyclothon,’ organised on Thursday to raise the demand for labor rights of the working women.
The event was organised by Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO) in collaboration with the Women Workers Alliance (WWA), Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability (TDEA) along with the National Press Club and Maqam International. District Commissioner of Islamabad Hamza Shafqaat was the chief guest on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Hamza Shafqaat thanked the women attending the event, and stated that the government is dedicated to protecting the rights of working women. He stated that in Islamabad the government will set up committees to monitor the conduciveness of working environments for women.
Following that, the members of the WWA, a group of women workers from 14 districts of Pakistan, read out their ‘Charter of Demands.’ The Charter demanded equality of wage for work of equal value and non-discrimination in employment based on gender must be addressed in federal and provincial laws and the Labour Department must ensure compliance through labour inspection.
The representatives of WWA also demanded compatible punishments along with substantial fines for violation of equal remuneration and non-discrimination of employment must be added to the law to create sufficient deterrence to violation. They said that all employees must have a right to an annual increment based on both quality of work, as well as the increase in the cost of living. They demanded representation of women in several governmental decision-making bodies, especially those that deal with labour and employment, must be increased.
Mussarat Jabeen, an alliance member stated that keeping in context the higher cost of living, particularly in urban areas, as well as rapidly rising inflation, the minimum wage must be reevaluated and recalculated to reflect the current economic scenario. The aim is to ensure a minimum wage that is livable and ensures a decent lifestyle that covers at least all basic necessities. Mehar Nigar, a member of the alliance and an educationist, discussed that the quotas for women in different governmental bodies and employment in departments is much lower than their actual percentage in the population which is 48%.
Vice President National Press Club Myra Imran appreciated the initiative of Deputy Commissioner Islamabad to notify committee to monitor the workplaces of Islamabad to ensure labor rights of women in the public and private institutions of Islamabad.
After the speeches, the cyclists and other participants started the cyclothon from the NPC which ended in Super Market. More than fifty women rode bikes at the event, while even more women walked along with the procession holding placards and banners that advocated for safer working environments for women, increase in minimum wage and ending the gender wage gap.
Speaking at the event, Syed Kausar Abbas, Executive Director SSDO said that many women workers find themselves being exploited in the labour market due to a lack of proper implementation of labour laws. “They are being both underpaid and overworked, without proper protection mechanisms. Therefore, we need to advocate for the government to ensure proper implementation of laws that promote conducive working environments for women and stronger monitoring mechanisms. The women workers who came out to this event to raise their voice for their rights are true heroes.”