While fundamentalist groups urge women to stay home and give up their jobs (under threat of death), the Pakistan Workers Federation strives to raise women’s income-generating capabilities by offering them vocational training and education and by calling for opportunities for women to participate in decision-making bodies at all levels, says the latest issue of the federation’s newsletter, One Voice of Workers.
||Women workers march to end violence, discriminatory customs, and laws against women.
The April 2009 issue focuses largely on women and youth. To commemorate International Women’s Day, March 8, PWF’s Women’s Wing held a National Women’s Conference, where PWF leaders called on the government to stop the victimization of women through practices such as dowry, vanni (under which girls must pay for offenses committed by their fathers or male relatives), and the killing of innocent women. Women workers marched to end violence, discriminatory customs, and laws against women. Also at the conference, speakers demanded that national and provincial governments not only implement existing labor laws, but also provide fair wages, safe and healthy workplaces, day care centers, maternity leave, and overtime pay for women workers.
On March 23, Pakistan Independence Day, PWF hoisted the national flag at a meeting for workers. Participants promised to continue to fight poverty, ignorance, unemployment, and price hikes. They also pledged to work for an independent judiciary and freedom of the press, as well as to bring national labor laws into conformity with constitutional provisions and International Labor Organization conventions that the Pakistani government has ratified.
On February 24-25, PWF sponsored a groundbreaking National Youth Conference. Participants voiced their concern that an unequal education system, “one for the rich and one for the poor,” has left millions of young Pakistanis ill prepared for the world of work. Nearly nine of ten Pakistani children leave school at the elementary level because their parents cannot afford to pay the fees. The jobs that Pakistani youth fill are informal, temporary, and contract-based. Participants pledged to bring more young workers into the labor movement through special campaigns and the use of new media tools.
Links to current and previous issues