Begum Monnujan Sufian, MP, Honourable State Minister for Labour and Employment formally launched the Alliance for Women Workers Rights (AWWR) on 6 September 2009 at the VIP Lounge of the National Press Club, Dhaka. She urged women from all strata of society to organize themselves to establish their rights and thus ensure elimination of all forms of discrimination against them. As per the country’s labour law, both men and women should get equal wages but in many cases women are less paid because of their ignorance, she added.
The Alliance will campaign for promoting women workers rights at the workplace. Some of the initial focus areas are: equal payment for work of equal value, minimum wage, maternity leave, and elimination of sexual harassment & discrimination at workplace.
Ms Jyoti Tuladhar, Senior Gender Specialist from the Bureau for Gender Equality at ILO Geneva laid emphasis on women’s empowerment and expressed that the Alliance would be one of the platforms to contribute to the establishment of women workers rights.
Ms Panudda Boonpala, Director of ILO Dhaka stressed the need for concerted action by the government, employers and workers to ensure gender equality which is at the heart of ILO’s global campaign for decent work. In Bangladesh, ILO is committed to promote decent working environment for women at home and workplace.
The programme was presided over by Professor Ishrat Shamim, Chairperson, AWWR. She said that the vision of the Alliance is that working women will be able to get equal rights and opportunities at their workplaces. President of the Bangladesh, Jatio Sramik Jote (a national-level trade union centre), Ms Shirin Akhter presented the situation of women workers rights in Bangladesh. Member Secretary of AWWR, Ms Parveen S. Huda introduced the 15 founder members of the Alliance including its Vice-Chairperson, Ms Afroza Parvin.
AWWR is being supported by the ILO.