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Women, labour rights in the workplace | The Herald

Last year’s theme for the 16 Days of Activism focused on protecting the rights of women in the work-place with a particular focus on sexual harassment.

It is accurate. According to a report by local human resources consulting firm Industrial Psychology Consultants published in August 2010 entitled ‘Challenges Women Face at Work’  sexual harassment was at the top of many women’s grievances within the work place. It is imperative that women’s complaints of injustices being perpetrated within the work space setting be viewed objectively and not in isolation.

To understand this, one must visualise the fact that women’s issues are not limited to a single event but they are a chain reaction aggravated by the function of patriarchy within the Zimbabwean society. A clear example is from the number of women in positions of leadership or in boards that control integral functions of the society. While women make up more than 50 percent of the population, fewer women compared to men occupy positions of influence, leadership and authority. Women in the workspace setting often suffer from what this report describes as ‘being taken for granted.’ Women have complained that they are given menial tasks such as taking minutes or providing or serving tea in board meetings regardless of their position within the employment ladder. This more common-than-desired practice reinforces gender roles with women being relegated to more domestic and basic work while the men are given the more challenging tasks which are viewed as more intellectually challenging.

It is clear that there are many issues which affect women within the workplace yet there is a consolidated legal framework whose rationale flows from the Constitution which stipulates that every woman has full and equal dignity of the person with men. In addition to the Constitution is the Labour Act, which regulates employer to employee relations within the place of work. Every person has the right to fair and safe labour practices and standards and to be paid a fair and reasonable wage.

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