How safe is the Labor market for women?
By McCreadie Andias
The recent BBC expose ”sex for work” has brought to the limelight the dark and unscrupulous recruitment procedures for women in the labor market.
The expose by BBC’s Tom Odula brings to light how high ranked sex predators in cooperate and multinational positions would go so far to sexually exploit women desperately in need of employment.
The expose which covered a dark and heinous employment culture in two Kenyan based UK tea companies, Unilever and James Finlay, exposed how plantation managers John Chebochok of James Finlay and Jeremiah Koskei of Unilever took advantage of vulnerable women seeking employment in the companies for recruitment.
In the expose, different women express their plights and fateful encounters with the top management officials.
Encounters that would not only destroy their dignity, but also lead them to an irreparable psychological trauma and stigma.
The expose also showcases the sad experience of how the women are subjected to tough labor beyond their physical abilities, which has lead some of them to suffer serious injuries, pain and serious health complications.
Even more devastating, is that this barbaric chain has led to even more women being infected with HIV.
In the wake of this expose, women and girls appear to be at the center of unfair labor practices including sexual harassment.
Majority of these women end up in such precarious positions when seeking employment, bargaining for promotion or improvement of employment wages, or bargaining for better working conditions.
As a result these women are forced into sexual engagements as the only bargaining power for their demands or wishes to be met.
In another scenario, women especially in marriage often find themselves in a hard spot to balance between their work and family responsibilities.
Long working hours or long piles of work interferes with women’s ability to dedicate time for their loved ones with those nursing young infants compelled to hire nannies or house maids to take care of their children.
Work place exposure to hazardous substances puts women at a risk of cancer diagnosis most commonly being breast and cervical cancer with majority of these cases linked to health workers and women working in dry cleaning industries.
in other cases, reproductive hazards including women giving birth in places of work increases risks of miscarriage or pre-term deliveries.
At the Heat of this matter, job stress is a growing problem for workers including women, job conditions like heavy workload demands, title control over work, role ambiguity, conflict, job insecurity or poor working relations with co-workers and supervisors have adversely affected the emotional and psychological well-being of women.
It this regard ,it is quite easy to justify that employment is seemingly developing into a curse and source of stigma for women rather than a solution for them to improve their lives and conquer the quest for gender equality in the community.
The employment sector has grown to be like a slaughterhouse where women lose their respect, class, dignity and status in the community especially those working under uncivilized male superiors.
The BBC expose has clearly bought up the the real picture of challenges women in the employment sector go through. The expose might have plugged out a few of the existing sex predators in big companies and institutions, but there are still more on the loose and it is high time for tough zero-tolerance policies that clearly define the strict rules and tough disciplinary actions are instituted in all places of work.
These policies should be able to recognize safe labor practices for women and protects their rights and dignity.
To ensure that these policies are strictly adhered to, a credible internal committee that thoroughly investigates and recommends strong action against perpetrators should be set up within the managing committee of all organizations.
Other than setting up strict measures against women harassment, women should also be trained to protect themselves when any untoward incident occurs, which includes the immediate escalation of any uncomfortable situation.
In addition, organizations should deploy counselling sessions and life-coaching workshops centered around women empowerment.
Apart from creating counselling sessions, there must be concrete strategies based on creating awareness on behavioral ethics at places of work and developing a safe culture that supports women employees.
Women should also have to be trained and made aware of their rights and priviledges in work places .This will help them realize if they are in the receiving end of inappropriate behaviour and gear them to raise objections and red alarms to the appropriate authority.
Regular government surveys by the labor service and office of public service should be conducted in state and private organisations and companies for employees to provide their feedback on the operation of their respective organisations in order to give the government a clear picture on which problems women employees are facing and measures to be taken.
Finally, the best way to solve a problem is to fix its source and by this it doesn’t mean all men should be fired from organizations or demoted and replaced with women.
Fixing this problem means continuous sensitization and training of male employees on how to conduct themselves when working with their female counterparts.
Many instances of harassment actually occur due to lack of knowledge and understanding of what constitutes inappropriate behavior.
Good Training and sensitization will be a significant approach to curb this problem and promote a healthy working environment for women where they feel safe and protected.
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