Working Women Union
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a highly conservative region of Pakistan where women rights are denied and women are not encouraged to be empowered and live in liberty due to the imposition of the vision of religion by extremists on women. The women in KPK mostly work as home based, domestic or factory workers. These women are not encouraged to stand for their rights and face a number of problems such as gender discrimination, sexual harassment, low wages, no maternity leave, late working hours, no proper policy and no implementation of labor laws. There are many male unions and men are highly encouraged to stand for their rights and become union leaders but women on the other side are not allowed to participate in unions, stand for their rights or become leaders. KPK Working Women Union is the first platform of its kind in the province, uniting the working women under a single platform, establishing small unions in various villages and districts, and training the women to enhance leadership.
• Enhance women in leadership.
• Make women stronger.
• Empower women unions through awareness.
• Provide women with the right to association.
• Provide women with the right to collective bargaining.
• Provide right to decent work, dignity and social security.
• Provide equal rights and privileges in employment.
• Empower union for decision making.
• Link women with the management through the union.
• Combat the harassment of working women at the work place.
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
The organizing of women workers was started in the province through informal meetings with the women workers in different villages and cities. The women were organized into groups and were made aware of the importance of unionization, leadership, globalization and their basic labor rights. Small committees of working women were being established to listen to the issues of working women at each step, most specifically at the grassroots level. The committee members were then trained about their basic rights, health and safety, and the change they can bring for themselves and other working women by uniting and strengthening unions and women under a single platform. Awareness sessions were conducted at community level for home based and domestic workers. In the factory and industries the implementation of labor laws and sexual harassment law was made compulsory through a series of sessions and consultations with the management of industries and factories in KPK.
It is the first working women union in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It's the first platform of its kind under which we are campaigning for the equal rights of women workers and to end all forms of gender discrimination against women in the workplace. For the first time women workers are organized into unions and committees in the region and are polished to become women leaders so that they can bravely stand for their rights and resolve the issues at workplace.
There are more than 200 female members of the working women union, which receive training, and three committees of working women have been formed. The campaign will continue till the majority of the working women are trained on their basic rights / laws and unionization.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a highly patriarchal society where the men are responsible for making decisions for women. Home based workers are not considered as workers but they form a great part of the workforce. I faced the biggest challenges from the management of factories and industries, which are completely not in the favor of raising awareness among women about their rights and the laws. The management and administration would not even allow me to take an hour of the workers' time for the purpose of raising awareness and so I had to visit their communities and villages. Another challenge was the lack of funds, but despite this I kept on working at my own .
It was a highly risky and most difficult task to do as the women were from the most neglected part of our province. I came to know that still much of the work is needed for the women workers as they are deprived of their rights. If one is dedicated to the work, one can change the world. Despite the challenges I faced working for women rights in my province I kept on moving and I have learnt to be focused on my work for women whatever the condition may be.