Migrant women workers told rights, entitlements
Around 150 women and adolescent girls gathered from eight brick kiln sites and observed the International Women Day at Bhingarpur and Kantapada under Balianta and Kantapada blocks near the twin city of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.
Brick making involves intensive manual labour as mostly poor couples take wage advances against future works and finally land in the job. Under the circumstance, brick kiln operators try to extract as much work they can from the workers who are provided dingy shelters at the worksites.
At brick kilns, standard working hour has no meaning with both men and women made to work overtime to complete their targeted bricks. The backbreaking work often takes a toll on women’s health.
Most of the migrant women are confined to their jobs at the brick kiln site .The observation of the International Women’s Day was to create awareness among the women about their right and entitlements and also to sensitise the brick kiln owners about the provisions and facilities be given to the women at work site, said Saroj Barik of NGO Aide et Action.
“We come to work here against wage advances. During brick-making season, each day of a week appears to us as another day of work. We are made to toil for long hours and hardly get leisure time to share what is happening in our lives,” said Pramila Nahak of Smruti brick kiln.
“Most of us did not have idea as to what is the International Women’s Days and what is its significance. The facilitation of Aide et Action, the NGO working with our children, has opened a window to present difficulties we face at worksites,” she added.
Estimates suggest that women constitute half of the total construction workers in India and hugely contribute to the national economy.
However, the migrant women workers continue to be denied minimum and equal wage, remain unskilled, lack basic health and reproductive care, denied basic safety facilities at worksite, encounter sexual harassment and abuse at worksite, lack worksite crèches and child care centre, and are alienated from accessing all Government entitlements and services at the destination worksites.
The celebration of the day by women brick makers will give a strong message to the society on dignity, rights and multiple role played by women, said Director of Migration Education of Aide et Action SouthAsia Umi Daniel.
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