National Alliance of Women Human Rights Defenders (NAWHRD) in collaboration with WOREC, Nepal, WOFOWON, Mahila Ekta Samaj, NDWA, Tarangini Foundation, and Pourakhi Nepal have conducted national workshop on August 10-11, 2019 on " Recognition, respect and valuation of women's work: A foundation of prosperous Nepal". This workshop was held with an objective to bring change in the perception towards works done by women while creating enabling environment to establish women's work as decent work. The two days national the workshop reviewed more on the strategies to overcome the challenges rather than focusing on the problems. There were 90 representatives from civil society organizations, trade unions, International Labor Organizations (ILO) Nepal and women workers from different sectors such as domestic work, entertainment and tourism from all 7 provinces of Nepal. The workshop has been divided into two-phase and the next phase will take place in the first week of September with different tires of government entities, civil societies and women workers.
Government of Nepal has moved forward with the slogan “prosperous Nepal and happy Nepali". To achieve this slogan, the Government has adopted a socialist economic model and has committed herself to abide by Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The GoN has also introduced social security policy and has amended the Labor Act 2074 to take on the formalization of informal work. This is a very commendable step taken by the GoN. However, in spite of all these positive steps, there is no clarity on how women’s care work can get recognized and valued? This leads women who are working at home or involved in care work without any employer will not get covered by the present social security scheme. The solution to the care work is a challenge faced by women entering the workforce as they have simultaneous responsibilities of bearing and raising the next generations. However, the care work is categorized by an empty of benefits, protection, low wages or non-compensation. This situation demands immediate discussion by all stakeholders especially by women workers whose work has not been recognized as decent work and it suggests areas of intervention by the state to bring all women under social security provisions. This two days' workshop was planned precisely to discuss areas to consider by the Government to make each woman feel as working women and create an environment to get recognized as a worker and enjoy social security scheme.
Dr. Renu Adhikari, chair of NAWHRD stated that each and every work is done by women including all care work have economic value, these activities are considered work because theoretically one could pay a third person to perform them. Therefore, this work should be recognized and valued and this should fall under the definition of decent work. The definition of work should be broadened as "The every activity that human being performs to sustain their life is WORK, however, that is not happening. Patriarchy has created different structures where women’s work gets restricted and devalued. This patriarchal structure has control over women's work, body and mobility. Thus it's very important for women to come together and challenge patriarchal structures of power to get recognized and valued.
One of the speakers, Mr. Ramesh Badal, Vice President of Nepal Trade union clarified about the provisions related to work enshrined in constitution and labour law. According to him, now there is no division between formal and informal work in current Nepal's labour law. This has created enabling environment for women to get considered as worker and demand for valuation of their work. He further stressed that it is important for all workers to unionize to raise their issue to implement the provision of labour law.
The Hon. Dr. Binda Pandey, Parliamentarian, ILO Governing Body and member of GEFONT stated that the unpaid care work is not recognized, organized and not even considered as decent work. The unpaid care work is the main obstacle stopping women from getting into, remaining and progressing in the labour force. She further stated that everyone should respect their care work and the policies and laws should be implemented effectively while the care work should also be counted in the upcoming census report of the country. For this women needs to be united and speak out about their rights.
Ms. Rama Bhattarai, Director of Social Security fund shared the comprehensive information on contribution-based social security scheme and stated that is is a historical step towards achieving decent work for all. She further added that it might look difficult to implement social security scheme in the initial stage, but later the scheme will surely pay off. In this regards, she suggested that workers should come together with an attention/ demand paper and press release and have a dialogue with employers to pressure them to follow the labour act and social security act strictly.
In addition to the information given by the speakers, the workers participating in the workshop brought out different issues they are facing at this point of time and suggested actions to take forward to resolve those obstacles. It was emphasized that no matter in which sector, women are raising their voice to be recognized, decriminalized and protected by law. With intensive discussion among the participants, the strategies have been developed and action points have come out to take the struggle forward;
ensuring the right to the same employment opportunities, free choice of profession and employment, right to equal remuneration, and to equal treatment in respect of work of equal value, right to social security as well as the right to paid leave, right to maternity leave with pay or with comparable social benefits
to registered all workers from local to national level
effectively implement social security scheme and labour act
compulsory management of transportation facilities from workplace to home by the employers who work during the night time
recognize and respect the care work and domestic work done by women. The State should recognize that it contributes to the labour market economy
the working condition of the workers should be healthy both in-home and outside
ensure work station with zero level tolerance of sexual harassment and violence
They have further raised their voice to unionize these three sectors of workers and GoN should ensure workers friendly laws and policies. At the end of the workshop, all the three sectors of women workers got unionized and formed a network called " Sharmgivi Mahila Sanjal" to collectively take up the issue of women's work, its value and respect as one of the important issues of women's movement. This network represents all 7 provinces of women workers.