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January 22, 2020

MPAs pledge to complete legislation for empowering HBWs in their provinces

Karachi

January 22, 2020

Parliamentarians and senior government officials from across the country in a consultation on Tuesday pledged to take up pending work on legislation for empowering women home-based workers (HBWs) in their provinces as a top priority.

Around sixteen parliamentarians from four provincial assemblies, including provincial ministers, and fifteen senior government officials, including provincial secretaries of the women development departments and labour and human resource departments from the four provinces, attended a two-day inter-provincial exchange of experience on the economic empowerment of HBWs in Pakistan.

The UN Women Pakistan in collaboration with the Sindh government’s Women Development Department (WDD) and the Sindh Commission on Status of Women (SCSW) organised the event.

Shaukat Yusufzai, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa information minister, said that education had a key role in enabling women to advance in society and grow socially and economically.

“In KP, 70 per cent of the education budget is allocated for girls’ education, which is a testament to our commitment to empowering women in the province,” he said.

He said that the KP’s Women Empowerment Policy envisions economic empowerment of women as an important area of work.

Uzma Kardar, chairperson of the Punjab Assembly’s Gender Mainstreaming Committee, said that gender mainstreaming does not mean only the financial inclusion of women in the workforce, but women representation should be on par with men representation at the decision-making level.

Nuzhat Shirin, chairperson of the Sindh Commission on the Status of Women, said that she believed investing in home-based workers could help accelerate progress and steer the country out of its economic challenges.

Deputy Country Representative Aisha Mukhtar, Secretary WDD Sindh Alia Shahid, Secretary WDD Balochistan Saira Atta and Deputy Secretary WDD Punjab Waqar Ahmed also spoke.

A day earlier, Sindh Labour Minister Saeed Ghani had said at this event that Sindh was the first province not only in Pakistan but also in South Asia that passed a law for the HBWs in 2018, giving them the status of recognised workers with social and legal protection like other workers.

He said the Sindh government was now working on the rules of business of the HBWs act and looking to finalising them by mid-March.

“After that, the act will be implemented across the province. I hope that the other provinces also follow the steps taken by Sindh and integrate the best practices and the proven approach to empower HBWs.”

Of the estimated 20 million HBWs in Pakistan, 12 million are women. According to the UN Women’s Status Report 2016 on Women’s Economic Participation and Empowerment in Pakistan, women account for 65 per cent of the Rs400 billion that HBWs contribute to the country’s economy. However, most receive low wages, and are denied legal protection and social security.