Women demand six-month paid maternity leave

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KARACHI: A women workers’ convention demanded the concerned authorities on Saturday to allow working women a six-month maternity leave with full pay before and after the childbirth.

The convention was organised by Women’s Action for Better Workplaces (WAction) and National Organisation for Working Communities (NOWCommunities) at the office of Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) on Saturday.

The participants, mostly women working in either private or government-run organisations, said that they were not granted sufficient maternity leaves by their respective organizations. One of the participants apprised that she had applied for a maternity leave while expecting her first child, but it was accepted four days after the birth of her child.

The participants were of the view that it was the basic right of a baby that its mother takes full care in its early days, however, many working women could not do so as they were not granted sufficient leaves.

They said that the incumbent laws allow such a leave to the expectant and new mothers but the employers did not bother to grant respites with the laws not being implemented fully.

The participants of the convention demanded that other labour laws should be also revised and implemented in the true spirit. They complained that there was nothing like job security in private sector.

Alleging that there were different wages for men and women in private organisations, the participants demanded that there not should be any kind of discrimination in the wages of males and females working in the same organisation.

“Healthcare centres should be established at every private and government organisation while ensuring the presence of lady doctors,” they demanded.

The participants said that the women faced different kinds of harassment at their workplaces.

They said that the public transport was another issue as there was very little space for females in the minibuses. They demanded that a law should be formed to refrain men from entering the women’s compartments in the buses and the violators should be punished strictly.

Speaking on the occasion, Aurat Foundation’s resident director Mehnaz Rehman said that now the women were working side by side men in every sector. She stated that women were deprived of their basic rights, saying that besides female workers, the male workers should also be enabled to get their rights due to lack of labour unions.

Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research (PILER) executive director Karamat Ali highlighted the need of unions at every sector, saying that the labor unions were very important for getting the employees’ rights.