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Provision of equal job opportunities to women workers lauded

SIALKOT: Country Programme Director UN-Women Islamabad Alice Harding Shackelford while addressing a largely attended ceremony organised by Baidarie Sialkot and UN-Women to appreciate and encourage the equal opportunity employers said that the conditions of home based women workers in Pakistan were quite similar to those of women workers in Italy some forty years back.

The working conditions gradually improved there in Italy and these are improving here as well.

“Several positive changes have already taken place in the working conditions in Sialkot” said Alice in a delightful tone while addressing the stakeholders at Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

She said that provision of enabling atmosphere to women workers will certainly pay dividends to the business community at large.

Alice said that inclusion of a woman into workforce of an industrial set up does not provide benefit just only to an individual but it also proves beneficial for her children and for her family.

It would therefore be extremely useful to provide job opportunities to the women workers in all those sectors and disciplines where they can perform their role in suitable and productive ways.

Umme Laila, Executive Director, Home Net Pakistan, while addressing the house gave an overview of the efforts underway to formulate the national policy on home based workers.

She said that in sequel of the 18th amendment to the constitution of Pakistan the process of policy development had some what been delayed but it is quite encouraging that all the four provincial governments in the country have moved forward to work on policy document on the home based workers and it is expected that very soon they will legislate to acknowledge the home based workers as regular workers and provide them with all of the necessary legal rights.

Speaking on the occasion Professor Arshid Mehmood Mirza, Executive Director, Baidarie Sialkot, invited attention to the fact that Sialkot District portrays two different and sharply contradicting kinds of scenarios.

The mostly noticed view of the district generally presents it to be the home of affluent and well-off industrialists and businessmen who contribute sizably to the foreign exchange reserves and help in pacing up the growth of the national economy.

Possible trickle-down effect of their economic robustness is supposed to be helpful in improving the employment, working and living conditions of the people leading their lives at the gross root levels.

This seems plausibly convincing but unfortunately it is not the whole truth.

Addressing the participants of the seminar Muhammad Tahseen, Executive Director, South Asia Partnership Pakistan, said that there are almost 300 million workers across the globe who are compelled by the circumstance to use their homes as their workplaces.

The number of such workers in South Asia is around 50 million whereas in Pakistan the home based workers surpass the figure of 12 million in Pakistan.

Tahseen said that it is quite unfortunate that the young girls in Pakistani society have to leave their schooling incomplete and go to workplaces to earn livelihood for themselves and their families.

He said that civilised societies ensure that their women have easy access to their rights to education and employment but Pakistan lags much behind in providing such guarantees to its women.

In Pakistan approximately 120 million women are working in formal and informal sectors of economy and in fact our society for its subsistence is indebted to the hard work done by them.

He said that discussions memogate and NRO issues are neither the dialogues of the poor and nor have been ensued for their benefit.

These and others of the like are the non-issues which have just been raised and are being highlighted to keep the attention of the people diverted and distracted from the real issues of the poor living far below the hunger line.

Hina Noureen, President Baidarie, while addressing the participants of the ceremony said that there is a genuine and real need of extension, replication and up scaling of the initiatives tested during the piloting phase of providing integrated support to home based workers in Sialkot.

She said that it has become very necessary that credible data representing number of home based women workers, their living and working conditions and available job diversification options in district be collected tabulated published and disseminated among the stakeholders in the relevant circles of state and society so that the remedial actions to address the problems may be taken.

Addressing the house, Naeem Anwar Qureshi, President, Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that Sialkot business community socially responsible.

It has undertaken several projects of public welfare and is willing to take all the steps that may be useful for empower and develop their workers.

The significant feature of the ceremony was the distribution of the certificates to appreciate the services of the employers for opening their doors for the women workers and providing them with an atmosphere in which they may work enjoying maximum esteem, honour and respect.

Alice awarded appreciation certificates to Forward Sports (Pvt) Ltd, Forward Gear (Pvt) Ltd, Starpak Martial Arts (Pvt) Ltd, Mansha & Brothers (Pvt) Ltd, Capital Sports (Pvt) Ltd and Anwar Khawaja Industries (Pvt) Ltd Syed Saghir Bukhari from UN-Women, Uzma Quresh, Dr Mariam Noman, Sidra, Javeria, Hafiz Abdul Qadeer and Ijaz Ahmad also spoke on the occasion.