What is it really like to be a working woman in Pakistan? Thousands of women live through distressing experiences at their workplace. What is more surprising is the fact that these women seldom talk about it. So, in simple words, the life of a working woman is not easy in Pakistan.
When we talk about privilege, we often talk about giving women equal access to employment opportunities, and providing them with a safe and secure environment at their place of work. But, the thing is, protection from harassment is not a matter of privilege: It is the right of every male and female citizen that they should be able to claim.
Taking into account the grisly state of affairs at various workplaces, the government passed the Sexual Harassment Act in 2010 to protect women against sexual harassment. The law has been theoretically present on paper since five years, but the implementation is negligible in its true spirit.
In a recent news piece published in the Express Tribune, the Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM) held a project as part of its Gender Equity Programme, to raise awareness regarding labor laws and protection from harassment among women workers. The participants of the session included factory and brick kiln owners, trade unionists and civil society representatives. Shazia George of the AWAM urged the need for the proper implementation of the law. One of the Trade Unionist, Arif Ayaz, emphasized on the need and responsibility of the owners and administrators to establish three-member inquiry committees comprising a woman and two men at workplaces. “The government must monitor organizations and institutions that do not adopt the code of conduct at their workplace,” he added.
On an individual level, the first step to put an end to this problem is to give yourself the authority and key to independent will. Women fear the sound of their own voice for it means admission, but it is that voice that gives them the power to change their surroundings. In the effort to stand up, women are not just standing up for themselves, but they are providing a voice to the community as a whole. The challenges that women face in telling their stories is real, but in order address the issue they need to start by pursuing and identifying a medium to participate in our system.
Most of us say that women are denied their rights: but the truth is, oftentimes, women deny themselves of these rights by not speaking up.