Afsheen’s efforts result in setting up of anti-harassment committee in her factory
Afsheen Malik is a factory worker in Peshawar who works there for more than 8 hours a day. She and all her female colleagues are only paid ten thousand rupees a month which is less than the minimum wage set by the government. Afsheen like other women in the factory was not happy with the salary and working hours but they failed to raise the issue due to missing platform.
United Rural Development Organization (URDO) under the Enhancing Women Workers’ Access to Markets (EWAM) project started profiling of women workers working in various public, private and industrial sector. The purpose of the profiling was to form women workers’ alliance (WWA) and provide a platform for women to share the issues faced by them at their workplaces. Luckily for Afsheen, her factory was one of the workplaces approached by URDO for profiling of women workers. Afsheen signed up as member of WWA.
On attending the first WWA training, Afsheen was able to learn about the women’s rights at workplaces. She was enthusiastic to contribute towards empowering women to raise their voice and demand their rights from the employer. During meetings of WWA, she raised the issue of her factory paying less salary and extensive working hours than the set standard by the state. In addition to the salary issue, she also discussed about the absence of any anti-harassment committee at her workplace. Afsheed said, “Before becoming member of WWA and getting training on labor laws, I suffered a lot as my factory paid only Rs. 10,000/- for working from six in the morning till eight at night. Which is unlawful but |I never got courage to take up this issue. However, WWA provided me with the platform and the support and I was able to gather other women factory workers to take up the issue with the management.”
Afsheen along with her other colleagues met with the factory manager and presented their demands of increasing their salary to the set minimum wage and setting up of an anti-harassment committee. To their demands, the manager agreed on discussing the matter with the factory management. To Afsheen’s surprise, the management agreed on setting up an anti-harassment committee and also issued a notification. However, the matter of increasing salary is still under negotiation and the management is working on it. Afsheen is determined to advocate on increasing the salary of women workers and bringing the working hours down to the standard eight hours. Afsheen states, “I am happy that I could play my role in setting up of an anti-harassment committee in our factory. All this is due to the support and encouragement provided by WWA.”