Women and Collective Bargaining

Achieving gender equality through collective bargaining

The ILO Pakistan Office, under the Labour Standards in Global Supply Chains (LSGSC) project, commemorated the International Women Day, and organised an exclusive session on ‘’Women and Collective Bargaining’, under the overall theme of ‘Time is Now: Urban and Rural Activists transforming lives of women’. The ceremony was attended by the ILO tripartite constituents, Ministry of OPHRD, Representatives of the Employers and Workers, Academia, Civil Society, Journalist and a cross section of society.

Press release | Islamabad, Pakistan | 13 March 2018
ISLAMABAD (ILO News): On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the ILO organised a session on “Women and Collective Bargaining” under the overall theme of the day; “Time is Now: Urban and Rural Activists transforming lives of women”. Representatives of Government, Employers, Workers, Academia, Civil Society and Development Agencies attended the event.

Addressing the audience, Ms Atifa Raffat, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development stressed that ‘Gender parity calls for a collective action from all stakeholders, while the Government is committed to improve implementation of labour laws, it is a shared responsibility of employers to carry out ethical business by adhering to labour laws and representatives of workers bear the responsibility of ensuring that they reach out to vulnerable groups of workers including women and voice their issues and concerns.’

Mr Majyd Aziz, President, Employers Federation of Pakistan shared pertinent views on the topic and presented pragmatic solutions to address issues faced by women at work. He extended support and commitment to take tangible measures to achieve gender parity through gender balance leadership respecting and valuing gender differences and developing more inclusive and flexible work culture by routing out workplace biases.

Ms Zahida Parveen, Chairperson, Women’s Wing, Pakistan Workers’ Federation (PWF) and an activist of women’s rights, stressed on the need to recognize women as an equal productive workforce and to enable them to participate fully in economic activity by ensuring equal opportunity to employment and training; harassment free workplaces; career growth opportunities; active participation in trade unions and collective bargaining among others.

Speaking on behalf of the ILO, Ms Belinda Chanda, program Analyst shared statistics from the 2018 World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends for Women 2018 highlighting the latest trends on women in the world of work. She highlighted the unlikelihood of women to participate in the labour market and the fact that in most parts of the world, women were more likely to be unemployed as factors that served to increase inequality between men and women. Ms Chanda also highlighted labour market trends in Pakistan including the low Female Labour Force Participation rate i.e. 24 per cent of the labour force (i.e. only 15 million out of 61 million workers’ are female); the persistent gender pay gap where, in Pakistan, women earn 60% of the wages earned by men in most sectors, the high degree of informal work out of which 73 % of women in the labour force are engaged in unacceptable forms of work, widely known factors such as occupational segregation, violence at work and sexual harassment which impede productivity and progression of women as well as the gaps in coverage of female dominated sectors by labour laws, e.g. domestic workers, agricultural workers, home based workers;

In addition to sharing trends, Ms Chanda offered solutions on how the ILO could work with its tripartite constituents, stakeholders and activists alike to advance the empowerment of women in Pakistan politically, economically and socially, through legislative, policy, institutional and administrative measures.

Mr Fernando Fonseca, Senior Programme Officer, ILO/ITC during his presentation on “Women and Collective Bargaining” highlighted the four key ILO Conventions that promote Gender Equality. The Equal Remuneration Convention (No. 100), Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (No. 111), Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention (No. 156) and Maternity Protection Convention (No. 183). Pakistan has ratified Convention 100 on discrimination and Convention 111 that sets out objectives of elimination of gender discrimination and promotion of the concept of “equal pay for work of equal value”.

The presentation delved deeper into the benefits that employers and workers could reap from gender equality in the workplace. Mr Fonseca highlighted the benefits to employers as: retention of talent by provision of adequately paid maternity, paternity and parental leave; increased productivity of women by reduction of discriminatory practices; reduced absenteeism by the provision of workplace solutions for childcare; and enhanced recruitment of women. Benefits to trade unions include achievement of gender equality, elimination of discrimination and increased social justice, as well as meeting demands of female workers in relation to work-life balance and other issues.

The ILO Country Office for Pakistan organized this commemorative event under the German funded Labour Standards in Global Supply Chains Project in Pakistan.