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Sindh Assembly passes law giving rights to female agriculture workers

Sindh Assembly passes law giving rights to female agriculture workers

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On Thursday, the Sindh Assembly passed the Sindh Women Agriculture Workers Bill 2019, providing rights to female agriculture workers.

Sindh women who carry out agriculture and livestock activities will now be provided rights under the new legislation. The law includes provisions regarding their pay and wages and provides them recognition for their work while assuring them measures for the promotion and protection of their rights.

Shahid Thaheem, the chairman of the standing committee on labour and human resources, presenting the bill after intense scrutiny of the earlier draft that has previously been presented to the house.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Chawla presented the bill clause by clause in the house with Deputy Speaker Rehana Leghari in the chair and got it passed unanimously.

The bill further includes a law providing the recognition of women’s work in the agriculture sector. This includes farming, livestock and fisheries including related sectors and promotes and protects their rights in order to ensure their participation in decision-making and foster empowerment.

This bill is historic as it ensures a wide array of rights not previously granted to women agriculture workers.

According to the bill, “A woman agriculture worker shall receive pay in cash or in kind, for any agriculture work undertaken individually, or as part of a family unit, on land and livestock belonging to her or her own family, or to someone else which shall be an equal to pay received by male workers for same work”.

It further added that the pay of a female agriculture worker is not to be less than minimum wages fixed by the government.

The Bill explained, “The working day of a woman agriculture worker shall not exceed eight working hours, and shall not commence until one hour after daybreak, or continue beyond one hour prior to sunset.”

The Bill also added that these workers should be allowed to take time off work if they’re sick or on the basis of antenatal and postnatal care and routine check-ups.

Under the new law, a female agriculture women is entitled to 120 days of maternity leave and is also entitled to a certain number of days for iddat leave.

The law further allows female agriculture workers with children up to the age of two to break feed them in a safe and hygienic environment and during the first six months of a child’s life, a worker should receive the necessary support to exclusively breastfeed her child.

They should have the right “to access government agricultural, livestock, fisheries and other services, credit, social security, subsidies and asset transfers in their own individual rights, or in association with other women agriculture workers”.

Each of these workers should perform work free from all forms of harassment or abuse.

A woman agriculture worker shall receive a written contract of employment if she so demands.

The law sanctions these workers the right to form unions or associations or to associate themselves with an association.

The law further makes it clear that discrimination against these workers will not be tolerated. This includes discrimination in terms of employment opportunities, wages, working conditions on the basis of sex, land ownership, caste, religion, ethnicity and residential status. These rights are applicable to all women agriculture workers.

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