Women workers need proper treatment at workplaces, speakers

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Government officials, representing different departments, economists, academia and educationists urged the concerned state authorities to ensure protection of heritage buildings and places to promote culture and tourism. They pointed out that there was a faulty approach regarding culture heritage buildings and the important national sites were being encroached by various mafias.

They were speaking at a consultation meeting with government officials of Sindh on “international commitments and state obligations for citizens rights” at a local hotel on Tuesday. The event was organised by Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) which is working on various thematic areas including economic, social, culture rights, gender equality, environment, minority affairs, policy issues and political education.

The participants represented government departments including social welfare department, labour department, planning and development department, provincial ombudsman, women development department, reforms support unit, cultural and tourism department, education, local government, health and human rights departments. They also realised that there was lack of coordination within government departments.

Fareeda Mahesar, Ms Prih Mangi, Ms Riaz Fatima, all the government officials led thee groups – social, economic and culture – and designed recommendations for authorities to remove the gaps. The government officials claimed that there were 12 child protection units working in Sindh. They said that children were vulnerable because of abuse and violations. There should be more child protection centers with coordination with government and other society forums to avoid any chance of violation.

Rabia of Oxfam said: “We cannot claim to bring change. But actually it is effort to make betterment in the society.” She said civil society itself could not work alone as it needed support from the government. In this regard, she asked the government officials to extend their cooperation to work together for betterment. Earlier, Ms Raheema Panhwar, SPO programme specialist, gave overview of the meeting. She pointed out, quoting the observations of private sector institutions, that there were gaps within government offices to follow the international laws which the government itself had ratified.

Some officials gave reactions that since these laws portrayed here were old, there should be a new thing for their learning. In this regard, they said their respective departments were already working on these pointed areas and this should be realised while criticising them. They said there was a gap between the public and private sectors, like civil society, which should be filled through confidence building. For example, they said, they had certain committees within government to monitor the working and they had reports to show with achievements.

Raheema said the SPO was working on 11 areas including human rights, minority affairs, environment, cultural diversity, education, health, right to employment, gender equality and policy level issues keeping in mind the international conventions and what Pakistan government was contributing in these areas.

She said women workers were not being dealt with properly at workplaces, especially in government offices, and some of women even did not have proper chairs in offices. She said Pakistan had also signed agreements with ILO about certain issues like bonded labour abolition and child labour, and protection of women workers, which should be followed to avoid any uncertainty. Besides this, basic health right should be made part of constitution and follow up policy in Sindh province, because health indicator shows different picture in rural areas in Sindh province.

SPO’s programme specialist Wahid Sangrasi shared the recommendations collected through different meetings and seminars which were related to the themes.

He said trade unions should be educated and their capacity should be strengthened so that they may take initiative for bargaining to ensure rights of workers. He said there might be contribution at individual level but not collectively. He urged government officials to share their contribution to remove gaps and collect further recommendations in this regard.