National Working Women’s Day was celebrated on Friday to pay tribute and acknowledge the services of working women in the country. Celebrations of Working Women’s Day was organised by Sangat Development Foundation (SDF) in collaboration with Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry (WCCI), Working Women Alliance (WWA) and Working Women Unity (WWU) at WCCI. Besides SDF members, a number of working women from different walks of life attended the event. The National Working Women’s Day was declared in recognition of the struggle of working women to secure a dignified and respectful working environment in Pakistan. It is also celebrated to acknowledge the economic contributions made by women to the country. The numbers of women joining the workforce are increased in the last few years. Women are working as teachers, doctors, police officers, businesswomen, journalists, social workers, lawyers, engineers, etc across Pakistan. WCCI Founder Dr Shahla Javed, WCCI President Faiza Amjad, SDF Executive Director Zahid Islam, WWA President Sumera Abid, WWU General Secretary Afshan Khan and women’s rights advocate Asma Amir were among the main speakers. Dr Shahla Javed, speaking on the occasion said that discrimination against women at workplaces is a human rights violation and we together should stand up for it. She added that awareness about the rights and existing laws always matter and it’s been observed in the past few years that the Sexual Harassment Law at mostly workplaces is not in compliance. But where it is implemented, inquiry committee is formed within the organisation and decisions also go mostly into the favour of women who lodge the complaint, she said, adding that women are breaking silence and there’s a high increase in the number of cases reported by women against sexual harassment at the workplace. Faiza Amjad said that married women mostly are not encouraged at workplaces as it’s considered that they are not suitable to pay full attention in their offices due to having children and household responsibilities. “Together we need to work on this to make workplaces peaceful and women-friendly,” she said. Zahid Islam said that ending discrimination and violence against women is at the core of SDF mandate. And we find out solutions that can unlock the transformational change we want to see. “It’s all about respect. Gender equality cannot be achieved until we start respecting women at workplaces. Morally, the men should treat the women with dignity and give them the respect they deserve,” he said. Asma Amir said that women experience discrimination and violence at their workplaces across all social status, class, or age group in Pakistan. “For many of them, the moment to report the incidents has not come yet, because speaking out can have fatal consequences and survival is a long and complicated journey. Being a women’s rights defender, I feel, it’s my duty to encourage the working women to speak out and report,” she added. Published in Daily Times, December 22nd 2018.