By: Bakhtawar Mian
ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a national conference on Monday stressed the need of providing equal job opportunities to women for ensuring gender equality at workplace and decent employment for all.
The conference titled ‘Gender Equality for Decent Employment: Enablers, Drivers and Achievers’ was organised by International Labour Organisation (ILO). More than 200 representatives from government, employers, workers, service providers, women rights activists, civil society, academia, donors, UN agencies and media came together and showed their commitment to promoting gender equality and decent work opportunity.
Speaking at the inaugural session, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, adviser to the prime minister on human rights, said that his government treated gender as a human rights issue and ensured that affirmative action was taken to provide social justice to men and women by working towards ‘competitiveness, productivity, growth of the economy, the creation of decent jobs and employability for all’. He particularly thanked the ILO for assisting the stakeholders to contribute to this goal.
Highlighting the stance of the ILO on Gender Equality and the World of Work, Country Director ILO, Francesco d’ Ovidio said that the ILO had launched special projects which focused on women’s economic empowerment. Over 150 women and men trained by the ILO had also found above minimum wage employments in the textile and hospitality sectors.
A group of women were trained to set up their own food businesses in Gwadar and they reported an increase of Rs1,000 per day per person during Ramazan. Similarly, a group was trained in solar appliances’ assembly and maintenance and they were contributing towards the maintenance of solar electrification in their villages.
Stressing on the importance of providing an enabling working environment, Alice Harding Shackelford, Country Director, UN Women, said that potentials of men and women can only be optimally utilised if their abilities, knowledge and skills were developed and that was only possible if special support mechanisms; policies and programmes were adopted that address the realities and needs of these men and women.
Sessions with employers, employees and trainees of the ILO projects revealed how each group had benefited from gender equal policies in the workplace: increased productivity, efficiency and job satisfaction. Participants reassured the ILO’s position that gender equality in the world of work was not only a matter of human rights and justice for workers, but that it also made good business sense for employers.
The convention included live demonstrations and experience-sharing of women entrepreneurs and factory workers from across the country that the audience highly appreciated. A number of stalls displaying products and reports remained the centre of attraction for the visitors.