Challenges faced by women working in the Informal Sector
6th Dec 2011 marked the 12th day of the ongoing campaign for the 16 days campaign to end violence against women. The program was called "Problems, challenges and solution of women working in the informal sector." The event was organized by WOFON, WOREC- Nepal and National Women's Commission. The event tried to highlight different challenges for women working in informal sectors such as dance bars, restaurant, Dohari, cabin restaurant among others.
Many women working in such informal sector were present at the program, which was held at National Women's Commission. They wanted to share their challenges and various sexual, physical, mental and economical abuses they face in their respective profession. They wanted a platform to share their stories and raise an effective debate about what is the government doing to provide their profession with respect and dignity. Many of these women believe that they are looked upon as victims for working in such places and therefore need rescuing. However, on the contrary they want people and the government to understand that no work should be categorized on a hierarchy and all profession should be given equal respect. They were vehement in their argument that finding alternative work was not the motive of the event. Instead implementing already existing laws efficiently that would improve their working conditions. They want the nation to change their perspective of viewing such profession and people working in these sectors
To provide solution and support for the issues raised by these women, Bijay Narayan, sub-secretary of the National Women's Commission stated that the budget received by National Women's Commission is not sufficient enough to initiate any movement to alleviate challenges faced by women in these sectors. Though the National Women's Commission is fully aware of the working conditions of these women and what kind of hurdles they face, NWC does not have the manpower to ameliorate their problems. However, NWC was willing to show support provided a women's organization is willing to take to initiative to advocate for such problems.
Badri Pokharel, Sectratary of the National Women's Commission, also provided some insight on the matter. He argued that the term informal would not be applicable in the provided case if the organizations and restaurant are registered and paying their taxes. He also went to on to state that since women are naturally weak by the laws the nature, women need to be more conscious about the physical security. However, he was adamant to voice that all work should be equally recognized and respect for all profession is essential. He said that until the human resources of any company is functioning well, the company won't do well and that can be only achieved through government accountability.
Renu Rajbhandari, chair of National Alliance of Human right Defenders, was also present at the conference. She argued about the fundamental right to work for any citizen. According to her, there are some fundamental rights that these women are entitled to such as right to work, right to freedom, liberty, right to one's own body, right to reproductive health etc. However, under our current political situation these rights for women working in the informal sector have been violated. Addressing to the previous speech by Mr. Pokharel, Ms. Rajbhadari voiced that the government organization such as the NWC needs to take initiation and leadership to provide solution for these problems. She believes that, in the present situation there nor no initiation or interest to tackle these challenges. There is not initiation and leadership for women's causes. It is the government's responsibility to provide safe and secure conditions for women working in the entertainment sectors. Fundamentally, our interim constitution advocates for human rights. However, those laws need to be implemented in all sectors and for every citizen.
Lastly, Shesh Raj Tara, chairperson NWC, concluded the event raising some thought provoking insights. She stated that no work is good or bad; it's one's perspective to view it in a positive or negative manner. She commended all the women who shared their stories and congratulated them for their courage to talk about their challenges openly.