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Unionizing Women Sanitary Workers ( Grantee Name : Action Against Poverty (AAP) )

Started On 23 January, 2015 Ended On 22 January, 2016

Brief Project Description

AAP, in partnership with the AAWAZ Response Fund, implemented the project in four districts (Multan, Khanewal, Bahawalpur, and Rahim Yar Khan). AAP targeted 400 women sanitary workers (100 in each district) as direct beneficiaries.

The project had three phases: Mobilisation, Capacity Building, and Networking. AAP mobilised women sanitary workers through focus group discussions, corner meetings, and seminars. Through these activities, their problems were explored and their situations in all districts also assessed. AAP published a position paper on the challenges faced by the women sanitary workers, which was shared with line departments, and district and provincial authorities for possible solutions to range of problems to be sought. AAP also published posters, leaflets, and a booklet to highlight these problems. During the mobilisation phase, women sanitary workers’ groups were formed at Union and Tehsil levels, and district committees were formed. These committees were responsible to form unions and get them registered with labour departments.

The Capacity Building segment consisted of two phases, before and after registration of unions. In the first phase, trainings were conducted on capacity building, networking, and conflict resolution. In the second phase, the trainings were held on leadership qualities, record keeping, collective bargaining, and referendum. An issue-based documentary with women sanitary workers was also made, which shows their circumstances and problems, as well as the achievements after unionisation.

In the Networking segment of the project, AAP developed networks between the women sanitary workers and labour departments, organisations working for women, labour courts, and media. AAP also organised a regional consultative workshop in which representatives from the labour department, labour lawyers, media personnel, and different organisations all participated.

Through this project, women sanitary workers were made aware of their rights as well as the laws that protect their rights and provide them benefits. In the shape of the Women Sanitary Workers Union, they also developed a platform for raising a voice for their rights. Through the efforts of the unions in the targeted districts, the women sanitary workers achieved some milestones that included an increment in their monthly pay. AAP is also intending to strengthen these unions through the establishment of a Women Sanitary Workers Federation.


  • Mobilising women sanitary workers
  • Building capacity of groups/unions of women sanitary workers
  • Supporting the women sanitary workers union to set up their agenda regarding advocacy for their rights with relevant authorities
  • Supporting the women sanitary workers union to enhance their outreach and networking through linking them with different women bodies, labour federations, and confederations

    Key Findings and Achievements

  • Women sanitary worker were unaware about their fundamental rights, but after this project they are aware of their rights and labour laws.
  • Unions are successfully registered in the four target districts.
  • The union of Hasilpur (Bahawalpur) received a CBA certificate.
  • Unions achieved the right of 12000 salaries per month.
  • The Khanewal Union is going to achieve the certificate of CBA.
  • The Hasilpur Union achieved the right of casual leave.
  • After the formation of the Hasilpur Union, daily-wage employees have been converted into permanent employees.
  • In the first referendum in the history of the Jalal Pur Union, the women sanitary workers union participated and received 122 votes.
  • The union enabled the women sanitary workers to build networks with the labour department, labour court, and organisations working for women.

    AAWAZ is a DFID-funded, five-year Voice and Accountability programme to strengthen civil Society

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