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In Blog

Problems of Working Women

Global situation and economic pressures have compelled women out of their homes to participate in income earning activities to supplement earnings of male members to make both ends meet. Men are no longer considered as the only bread earner of the house. Women now are also financially supporting their families.

Working women refers to those in paid employment. They work as lawyers, nurses, doctors, teachers, secretaries, beauticians, factory workers, home based workers, sales and marketing professionals in departmental stores etc on salaries or they are self employed running small businesses.

There is no profession today where women are not employed. Women are making a tremendous contribution in each sector but the society and governments do not acknowledge them in terms of justice to their sacrifices in the economic field.

Today, empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is stressed upon as essential to build stronger economies, achieve internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improve the so called quality of life for women, families and communities. Women are also responding positively to this changed socio-political and economic situation. This does not mean that our women are completely free from all problems. On the contrary, the changing situation is causing new problems to women. They are now beset with new stresses and strains.

Job impact on psychological and physical health of women is not good, she has to face stressors at work place, stressors at home and stressors during commuting leading to a number of health problems.

Working Women Welfare Trust setup a task force to conduct surveys and hold detailed discussions with working women representing different working areas to identify problems and issues commonly faced by working women in the field and to collectively find out practical solutions to these problems. A number of sessions were held over a period of more than two years and a large number of women participated in these discussion forums, sharing their thoughts and experiences and agreed on a number of solutions.

During the comprehensive discussions were revealed some of the

Major problems haunting the modern women today in the work place:

  • Work and family issues, most importantly maintaining equilibrium in work and personal life
  • Gender based discrimination
  • Working late hours without pick/drop facility
  • Insufficient maternity leaves
  • Absence of nurseries or on-site child care centers
  • Poor physical working conditions are found mostly which include unsafe working environment due to absence of basic infrastructure such as electricity, safe exit in emergencies, fire fighting provision, congested workplaces, filthy and unhealthy physical surroundings due to lack of proper sanitation facilities (e.g.no toilet facilities or no separate toilet facility and open drains and garbage collection)
  • No compliance to existing EHS Laws (Environment, Health and Safety Laws)
  • Unjust working conditions related to fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value, mostly being denied. No limit of probationary period. Working late without overtime or with forced overtime. Delayed or denied promotions. Lack of safe, secure, appropriate, favorable and healthy work environment.
  • Unavailability of flexible working hours facility
  • Latest trend in the job market is that young girls are hired for working as waitresses and chefs at newly decorated and fully modernized fast food outlets as well as in many modern department stores as salespersons. Most of these girls come from home in hijabs and Abbayas but they are compelled to dress up in attractive and revealing western style uniforms with a lot of facial make up. This may boost company’s profits but these young girls, usually from low income groups, are exposed to harassment not only by their colleagues but also by visiting male public.
  • Denial of jobs to hijab wearing women or women employees are forced to remove their hijabs and veils, which is a violation of human right and constitutional right to dress up decently and modestly according to ones beliefs & values. It is also exploitation of poor needy women who have no other option, cannot lose the much needed job.
  • Sexual harassment, which was an invisible problem until quite recently, has now become a major social problem with the widespread entry of women into the labor force. It is a fact that working women have to face problems by virtue of their sex. Today, almost all working women are prone to sexual harassment irrespective of their status, personal characteristics and the types of their employment. They face sexual harassment on way on transports, at working places, educational institutions, hospitals, at home and even in police stations when they go to file complaints. It is shocking that the law protectors violate and outrage modesty of women
  • There has been a recent legislation that claims to afford protection from harassment to women but it has not been implemented properly.
  • Public transport system is overcrowded and women become easy targets for physical harassment. It definitely needs improvement to accommodate women honorably.
  • Job impact leads to various health problems to working women, commonly stress which is caused by unfavorable conditions of work both physical working conditions and work-related working conditions.
  • Home based workers, due to extreme poverty and illiteracy, are silent sufferers. They need laws to protect their rights and they should be given awareness about their rights also. Their registration should also be done and data compiled for effective legislation. It was also revealed that home based workers who are poor and illiterate don’t even know they are workers.

WWWT ‘s Objectives:

  • Raise awareness about workload on working women
  • Women face a double burden of domestic work and jobs and triple burden of childcare (elderly care of family), domestic work and jobs
  • Advocacy for betterment of working environment & provision of more convenient working conditions.
  • To sensitize key officials, concerned authorities, policy makers and the media about the plight of working conditions generally prevailing in Pakistan
  • To compile all stakeholders recommendations
  • To mobilize civil society and think tank and pressurize the govt for framing policies and legal enactments of women friendly and family friendly laws and implementation of the existing laws as well. Aim is to strengthen family institution instead of its breakdown.
  • To protect and facilitate working women from damages to her physical and psychological health.
  • Maximize job opportunities for professional women who have the skill and potential, but are unable to work for lack of proper facilities (e.g. child care, flexi time, transport etc). Not to deprive society of the available valuable and qualified human resource (women resource).
  • To precede the real strategic and structural changes in the system needed for the welfare of female workforce
  • To empower working women by providing them a platform of collaborated efforts
  • Acknowledge and compensate working women for their contribution to society
  • Bring about a healthy and positive change in working women’s life which ultimately leads to prosperity of the whole society
  • Their task also includes formulations of recommendations to be presented to the Ministry of Women Development Pakistan for legal enactment and implementation.
  • In order to move forward with a rational approach which is capable of delivering solutions to a number of women issues there is a need of realization of just and favorable working conditions from women’s perspective.

WWWT task force prepared the following recommendation to promote the cause of welfare of working women:

RECOMMENDATIONS 2016

  • Effective legislation on all issues confronting working women identified by WWWT task force
  • Develop gender fair policies, family friendly and women friendly policies & laws
  • Implementation on existing laws
  • The work related and physical conditions of work to be improved which include
    • Sufficient maternity leaves, ensuring women do not work late hours without overtime or forced overtime
    • Unequal pay
    • Delayed or denied promotions
    • Hygienic safe secure environment conforming EHS rules
  • Support structures like on-site Child day care centers, flexible working hours or work from home
  • ILO convention for mandatory Day Care arrangement must be enforced.
  • Better transport system and safe transport facility for working women.
  • Rights of rural women must be protected, access to education, to basic health facility and to financial resources must be ensured. Skills and technical training must be provided in order to develop women working in fields and who are the backbone of our agricultural economy.
  • We should establish ministries for women and families for both rural and urban women.
  • Legislation to regulate the Media and its gender sensitization is also essential Media should play a positive role in bringing about the much needed social change
  • Media must not glamorize women for commercial benefits, it should give a respectable portrayal of women and show moral, ethical & value based programs.
  • Government should stop discrimination against hijab wearing ladies who are denied jobs because of their hijab or they are forced to remove hijab on job. Legislation required to save the rights of hijab wearing women to get jobs in all fields open for women.
  • Effective legislation needed for protection from harassment to women
  • Legislation on favorable working conditions for sales girls at departmental and other stores to protect them from sexual harassment and exploitation.
  • We must follow good practices pursued in other countries to ease workload on women and strengthen family institution. Japan has made a law to relieve women worker one hour before male employees so that women reach home earlier to meet their kids and families before their husbands arrive.
  • Compilation of dis-aggregated data on working women needs to be included in policies, in enactment of laws and in national/provincial budget provisions by government authorities

 

 

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