Speakers at a view exchange meeting in the city on Thursday underscored the need for ensuring safe and harassment-free workplace for women garment workers to keep up the sector’s progress.
They also called for ensuring equal salary for the women garment workers, six-month maternity leave and allowance, day-care centers for their children and proper transport and residential facilities on Thursday.
They were speaking at the view exchange meeting at National Press Club ogranised by Karmojibi Nari, a right body for working women, on ‘The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Recommendation No 31 (C) – Unsafe Labour Condition; Dialogue with Women Rights Ogranisations’.
Adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, CEDAW is often described as an international bill of rights for women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. Bangladesh is a signatory and promised country of the recommendation.
In the meeting the speakers focused on the Recommendation No 31 (C) which has provision for safe working place for women.
The women workers, who participated the programme, said still they have to face overtime payment discrimination, excessive work pressure, sexual harassment both in the workplace and on their way to office, get only four months of maternity leave.
Shirin Aktar, a member of the parliament, while speaking as the chief guest, said the women workers have to get united and vocal about their rights and should raise their voice for demanding a secured and safe workplace.
She said the root of the problem of discrimination lies with the misconstrued socialisation process that teaches people to undermine women.
She urged to build strong movement and create social awareness which will push the government to realise CEDAW recommendations and ensure a better workplace for women.
Khushi Kabir, Coordinator of Nijera Kori, a Non-government organisation, said laws can’t change the society alone; it takes change of people’s mindset for more awareness on women’s rights.
She also said Bangladesh is on the way to be a developing country where the garment sector has a great contribution and women have significant role for the achievement.
Khushi said the women workers’ contributions need to be recognized and equal and proper facilities should be guaranteed for them.
Quoting the CEDAW 2016 observation, Ranjan Karmakar of Steps Towards Development said Bangladesh is among the 10 worst countries having poorest condition of women workers’ rights.
The programme was chaired by Ummya Hasan Jhalmal, the Vice-President of the ogranisation. unb