Women pledged that they would become alternate political force to make Pakistan a democratic socialist society and to get a true gender justice and equal status for womenfolk
Karachi: A large number of women workers took out a big rally here Sunday on the occasion of international women’s day that marched from the Arts Council of Pakistan to Karachi Press Club vowing to continue their struggle against gender-based discrimination.
The rally organized by Home-based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) was led by their general secretary Zahra Akbar Khan and attended by a large number of women workers of factories, offices, farms, home-based workers and lady health visitors. Leaders of different political, social and human rights organizations, besides trade unionists also attended the rally.
Addressing the rally, the speakers said that anti-women forces are attacking them under the cover of religion and reactionary traditions of society. “We are living in a society where females from a seven years old girl to a dead women lying in grave are not safe.”
They said the society is giving honor and pride to those people who are suppressing the voice of women. “Women do not have to get any certificate from the so-called contractors of our society and they would continue their brave and revolutionary struggle to defeat the forces of feudalism, capitalism, tribalism and male chauvinism.”
“Today women pledge that they would become alternate political force to make Pakistan a democratic socialist society and to get a true gender justice and equal status for women,” they said adding this struggle would continue till the end to poverty, hunger, joblessness and gender-based exploitation and till realization of justice, peace and progress.
They said for a democratic society it is necessary to end all types of discrimination against women and ensure their inclusion in every sector for a rapid progress and prosperity of the country.
They said besides facing negative values, traditions and beliefs, the women also face a cruel economic exploitation. Women workers get fewer wages as compared to their male counterparts. As per report of ILO the gender based disparity in textile, garments and shoe making industries is about 64.5percent, while as a per a report of Oxfam the gender-based pay gap at international level is about 23 percent, which is increasing and to end it, it would need more than 170 years.
They said that sexual harassment of women at workplace is rampant. “The young girls and females of minority communities are facing extreme harassment. As per a UNDP report Pakistan is on top of the list of those countries where women face immense discrimination on the basis of gender.”
They said this inferior role of women is shown in dramas and films. “A so-called writer Khalilur Rehman Qamar had expressed this hatred openly.”
They said not only feudalism and tribalism are exploiting the women, but capitalism is also their worst enemy.
They said women comprise 75 percent of the poorest population of world. They said as per a report of Mc Kinsey Global Institute, women do not get wages of about $10 trillion for their services at home. Like whole world, in Pakistan also work is being shifted from formal industries to home-based workers and as per estimate more than 12 million home-based workers are in Pakistan, majority of them women, who are deprived of all social security benefits, EOBI, health and safety benefits.
They demanded that all discriminatory laws against women should be abolished. Women be given protection against harassment at workplace and vigilance committees against harassment be formed in all institutions. Law should be made to end sexual harassment and religion change of women. Policies of IMF and other international lending institutions should b shunned. Agricultural reforms should be announced and lands granted to landless women Haris. All workers including home-based workers and Haris should be registered with social security institutions. Gender-based pay gap should be stopped. Equal wages and equal working hours should be introduced. Salaries and wages should be increased. Maternity leaves of women should be enhanced. Eight hour working day and weekly holiday should be introduced. Time scale should be given to lady health workers and pension to retired workers. Child care centers should be established in workplaces with women in majority. Women should be given representation in all institutions in proportion of their share in population. All missing political and social workers should be recovered. Forces sacking of media workers and their salary cuts should be stopped. Solid steps be taken for promoting female literacy and girls schools should be increased. Encroachments in the name of beatifying the cities and towns be ended.
At the end of the rally songs were presented.
Those attended the rally included Saeeda Khatoon of Association of the Affected of Baldia Factory Fire, Sabaghi Bheel of Sindh Agricultural General Workers Union, Nasir Mansoor of National Union Federation, Kosarul Nissa of HBWWF, Zubair Rehman columnists, Shakeela Khan Home-based Women Bangles Workers Union, Rafiq Baloch of NTUF, Sajjada Kosuar of HBWWF, Saba Edhi of Edhi Foundation, Asima Batol of JKNP, Haleema Laghari of All Sindh Lady Health Workers and Employees Association, Sadia Baloch Women Rights Defender, Hani Baloch, Writer, Shaheena of Hari Porihat Mazamat, Kulsoom of Student Leader, Saira Feroz of United HB Garment Workers Union.