Women Workers Alliance demand for gender-focused labour reforms.

ISLAMABAD -- Women workers from across country convened on Friday to celebrate the registration of Pakistan's first-ever all-women trade union 'Women Workers Unity' and reiterated their demands for improving participation of women in economic life including establishing federal guidelines for minimum labour standards in order to ensure uniform protection of constitutional and legal rights of women workers across the provinces.

The Women Workers Convention, organized by the Women Workers Alliance (WWA) with the support of the Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability (TDEA), urged the federal government to establish guidelines on labour standards to be followed by provinces in order to meet the state's commitments to workers especially women under the Constitution, International Labour Organization's (ILO) conventions and the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The registration of the first-ever all-women trade union in Lahore marks the advent of a new era in the struggle for workers' rights in Pakistan. The WWA currently operates in 14 major industrial districts and the process of registration of similar trade unions in remaining districts is underway.

The workers' convention also highlighted other critical areas for reforms. The charter of demands approved by convention's participants urged the federal and provincial governments to eliminate the discrimination against women in terms of employment as well as in wages, ensure mandatory provision of maternity benefits to women workers, revise penalties and offences provided in labour laws to make them consistent with emerging economic realities, provide one-window registration for all social security benefits, and strengthen labour inspection mechanism including greater investments for its gender-sensitization.

The convention participants including representatives of trade unions such as CDA Mazdoor Union, IESCO Union, Nurses Association, Pakistan Workers' Federation and Pakistan Sports Board Union vowed to expand the network of women unions across the provinces, and work towards the formation of the Women Workers Federation - a nationwide alliance of women-led trade unions that will sustain the momentum created by the WWAs since 2016. With the economic participation of women on a constant decline, such unions are imperative to protect and promote the economic rights of women workers.

Along with representatives of WWAs, Khyber...

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