Unequal wages for work of equal value and discriminatory terms and conditions are the major concerns of women workforce which hinders their economic participation. The labour laws dealing with wages and terms and conditions for employment need to incorporate provisions to deal with gender discrimination at work. Majority of workplaces of private sector do not comply with the minimum wages act and workers are paid with less wages. The situation becomes worse when it comes to women workers as they are paid considerably less than men for the same amount and form of work which is a total violation of a clause on non-discrimination on the basis of gender and other characteristics in the Shops and Establishments Act 2015, added by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.
Unavailability of anti-harassment committees at the workplaces is another major issue which limits women participation in economic development of Pakistan. Majority of public and private workplaces do not have these committees which is total violation of the act related to PROTECTION AGAINST HARASSMENT OF WOMEN AT WORKPLACE. Mardan district administration has already issued notification No. 300/DC (M) PS/GA, dated 09/04/2021 to all district departments upon the direction of Ombudperson’s Secretariat letter but till now, the departments have not complied with it.
The role of district labour department is not as encouraging in enforcement of these laws as is expected.
Women Workers Alliance (WWA) – a group of women workers from district Mardan with members in provincial coalitions and a national body – that works on women’s labour rights, demands that
- Equality of wage and non-discrimination in occupation are two separate things and must be a part of provincial and federal labour laws
- Minimum Wages as per Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Payment of Wages Act 2013 must be ensured for women workers of private sector in the district
- Appropriate punishments along with substantial fines must be provided in the law to create sufficient deterrence to violation. The role of Labour department in this connection is of utmost importance
- The concerned district departments must comply with the law related to protection of women against harassment at the workplace and notify anti-harassment committees in their respective workplaces. The code of conduct along with members of committees must be displayed at prominent location within the premises.
WWA stressed the government needs to tackle these issues with iron hands to allow more women to join safer and conducive working environments.