KARACHI: Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) organized a women workers convention on the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Friday.
The women workers demanded formulation of anti-harassment committees in all workplaces to stop violence against women at work.
Zehra Khan of HBWWF said that the UN General Assembly proclaimed this day as International Day for violence against women in 1999.
“The day is commemorated in honour of three revolutionary sisters, Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal, who fought against the notorious Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo (1930-61).
International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women observed
“The Mirabal sisters and their husbands were imprisoned and tortured for taking a stand but they refused to give in and devoted their lives to secure their country’s freedom and democratic order. These three sisters are revered as unforgettable Butterfly Sisters. They were later also honoured as women’s rights icons,” said Zehra Khan.
She added that persistent violence against women had a significant impact on the lives of working women everywhere. “In Pakistan, especially, violence against women is a violation of human rights and a barrier to gender equality. A major concern for trade unions is workplace violence against women, which has an impact on employees; rights, safety, health, and dignity. In order to avoid all forms of violence against women, unions should prioritise addressing these issues both inside and outside of the union,” she said.
She also said that the anti-harassment law passed in 2010 in Pakistan must be properly implemented in order to stop impunity of those who commit acts of violence. Trade unions must also provide safe venues for women to report harassment situations and remove any barriers to their speaking out, such as shame or fear.
Christina Oliver, Assistance General Secretary of Industrial Global Union, also sent a message on the occasion. “As we commemorate International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the IndustriALL Global Union joins hands with our sisters and brothers in remembering the Butterfly Sisters, Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal, who were brutally killed on this day in 1960 by the dictatorial regime of Leónidas Trujillo in the Dominican Republic.
“Their bravery to fight a corrupt and violent dictator will never be forgotten, nor will their deaths be in vain. Their revolutionary spirits will live on forever in our hearts and minds,” read her message.
Nasir Mansoor of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) said that given the impunity, silence, stigma, and shame that surround it, violence against women and girls (VAWG) was one of the most pervasive, ongoing, and terrible human rights violations in this age. He added that a global movement for the prevention and reaction of violence against women and girls was ignited by the #MeToo movement five years ago. “Against this backdrop, ILO Convention 190 (ILO C190) and Recommendation 206’s adoption in 2019 has created an incredible momentum for the prevention and eradication of gender-based violence in the workplace,” he said.
Saeed Baloch of Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum (PFF) said that the trade unions were fighting for the ratification and application of the Convention in several countries in collaboration with feminist and other human rights organisations.
He added that ILO C190 had been ratified by 22 nations, 13 of which had done so recently. Ratification of C190 is increasing fast and it is also assumed that 50 more countries will have ratified this agreement by 2030.
Saira Feroz of United HB Workers Union said that the HBWWF actively took part in the campaigns and movements that resulted in this ratification in Pakistan. “Parallel to this, the HBWWF has been organising campaigns, engaging in collective bargaining, creating awareness and educating the public on the need to adopt these tools in the workplace.”
The speakers called for an end to all laws that discriminate against women. They demanded an end to workplace harassment of women and the formation of anti-harassment committees in every business.
They also demanded an end to wage disparities based on gender. They were of the view that Pakistan government should ratify the ILO Convention 190, encourage employers to create policies to end all forms of violence against women in their workplaces and throughout their entire supply chains along with setting up mechanisms for women employees to file complaints and have those complaints resolved.
Others who spoken on the occasion were Parveen Bano of HBWs, Abdul Hai Baloch of HRCP and Shakeela Asghar, a factory worker.