Pakistan workshop on 'invisible hands' of women

A workshop for politicians in Pakistan has highlighted the desperate circumstances for women in marginalised employment.

The parliamentarians indicated that they learned more about the issues facing women. We wonder how different it would be if half the parliament were women.

Islamabad - A two-day multi-stakeholder dialogue on “Women in the Informal Economy, Recognising the Invisible Hands” with a diverse group of parliamentarians concluded yesterday.
The main objective of the activity was to sensitise and engage the public representatives in the legislature in a way that they become custodians of the rights of the informal workforce.
It was also an opportunity to review the performance of Women’s Parliamentary Caucus regarding its efforts for the betterment of women workers in the informal sector, especially the domestic workers.
The participants also explored the legislative and non-legislative avenues to work for the rights of the informal workforce and discussed how parliamentarians can make a difference in this context.
Munawar Sultana, head of the GE4DE project gave a presentation on the project and explained that in the context of decent work, gender equality embraces equality of opportunity and treatment, equality of remuneration and access to safe and healthy working environments, equality in association and collective bargaining, equality in obtaining meaningful career development opportunities, maternity protection, and a balance between work and home life that is fair to both men and women.
Munawar said that around 73 per cent of Pakistani workforce is employed in the informal economy, growing part of which is women who are engaged in low-paid and low-status with little or no growth at all.
The home-based workers and the domestic workers, she said, are two of the most underprivileged groups of informal sector workers that had continued to suffer in the absence of elaborate policies concerning them.
The parliamentarians committed that they will make all-out efforts to trigger and strengthen the process that leads to devising of effective strategies, drafting of national laws/policies with reference to ILO’s Convention 100 (equal wages for the work of equal value) and Convention 111 (against discrimination in employment & occupation); Convention 177 (home-based work) and Convention 189 (for domestic workers) leading to improvement in the working conditions for women.
The parliamentarians expressed that following the consultation, they have a better understanding of the issues faced by women in the informal economy and will get these voiced and recognised in the Parliament in the form of questions, bills, legislative framework etc.
Published in The Nation newspaper on 29-May-2016