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Karachi: President Dr Arif Alvi has asked both local and multinational private sector companies to provide maximum employment opportunities to women, saying they constituted about 52 percent of the country’s total population.

Speaking as chief guest at the 16th Occupational Safety, Health and Wellbeing Conference and Award Ceremony held on Saturday, the president said the private sector had an obligation to accommodate female workers by providing them with respectable employment so that they could play a positive role in the development and prosperity of the country.

The event was organised by the Employers’ Federation of Pakistan (EFP) in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Various top companies in different categories —— including power, refineries, textiles, leather and exports, foods, pharmaceuticals, energy, chemicals, and services —— received EFP OSHW awards for setting high standards for others to follow.

President Alvi urged the EFP to introduce a new award category next year for companies which give maximum jobs to women in a year. He said that trends were changing in the global employment markets with the passage of time. Gone were the days when employers used to be more concerned about making profits; now an element of wellbeing of employees, their safety and security, and health and education of their families was gaining importance.

He said that research studies showed that greater investments in the employees’ wellbeing resulted in higher productivity. “You have a responsibility towards the society as well. You must provide jobs to the disabled ones, not just limited to 2 percent or 4 percent under the law, but to go beyond that,” said the president.

Dr Alvi said that some industries were responsible for polluting the air and water in Karachi, and they should take care of the environment. They should play their part to protect the atmosphere in accordance with their carbon footprints.

The world, he said, had now become polarised. “The race of competition, particularly after the neo-colonial world order, has put the world into stress. Income disparity is one of the concerns of today’s world, and the gap between the rich and the poor is expending.”

The president also asked the academia and industry to impart market-driven education to the students and employees, respectively. “Universities should run classes in different shifts so that the educated youth can put this nation on the path of progress and prosperity.

“We are not happy that our doctors are going abroad instead of serving the nation,” he said.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government had introduced an online capacity building course, comprising 10 skill sets, he said. Around 2.4 million people, including PhDs and graduates, attended the course and some 800,000 of them cleared the tests with good marks.

Speaking on the occasion, EFP President Ismail Suttar said that for the last 16 years, the federation had been making efforts to ensure safer, and more productive working environment with a focus on workplace wellness.

He said that some 500 companies had benefited from the initiative, and new participants were coming up every year. He said safety was one of the major concerns in cities like Karachi. Buildings having 35 floors had been constructed in the port city but the snorkels available with the city government could not extinguish fires beyond 30-storey buildings.

He pointed out that the EU’s GSP-Plus facility is coming to an end, as only one-and-a-half years are left for it. “We are sensitising our industry and stakeholders, as OSHW is necessary in this connection.”

He said the untapped tourism sector could earn huge revenues for the national kitty, if related infrastructure was ensured. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was actually a project aimed to boost industry and exports. Roads and power projects have been constructed in recent years and now the focus of CPEC should shift towards industry and exports, Suttar said.

EFP Vice President Zaki Ahmad Khan explained the criteria for the awards. He said that during the Covid-19 pandemic EFP trained as many as 500 people on occupational safety, health and wellbeing in Sialkot. The same initiative was replicated in Lahore and Karachi.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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