Female Workers: We Need Protection!

Written by: Sarah Nadiah, HERHealth Project Coordinator, FMCH Indonesia 

Every April 28, since 1995, has been celebrated as the International Workers’ Day which aims to honor workers who are victims of occupational accidents and diseases. Moving on to 2003, the International Labor Organization (ILO) declared that on April 28, apart from respecting workers who were injured and fell, besides respected that work-related injuries and deaths could be prevented and reduced. From that day, it was designated and celebrated as World Day for Safety and Health at Work. This day is an annual international campaign to promote safe, healthy, and decent work. Moreover, a national occupational safety and health culture is one in which the right to a safe and healthy working environment is respected at all levels; where governments, employers, and workers actively participate in securing a safe and healthy working environment through a system of defined rights, responsibilities, and duties.

Although in recent years efforts to improve safety and health in the workplace have been continuously improved, it cannot be denied that occupational safety and health, especially women workers, still need attention. According to a report by the Indonesian Central Statistics Agency (called BPS), there was a growth in the number of female workers from 2018 to 2019. In 2018, there was 47.95 million female who worked. The number increased a year after that to 48.75 million people. Female workers experience menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. Thus, requiring different care and protection from male workers in the workplace. Protection for female workers consists of protection during menstruation, protection before and after childbirth, protection after birth, the opportunity to breastfeed, and prohibition of night work for pregnant workers. However, not all companies provide this protection, which can hurt the safety and health of female workers, especially the maternal and reproductive health of them

Moreover, talking about Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) aspects, can not be separated from psychological aspects. Female workers are still haunted by the unfriendly conditions at work. There are still many cases of sexual harassment that happen in the workplace. Refer to data from a movement called Never Okay Project, shows that 81% of respondents out of a total of 1240 respondents have experienced sexual harassment (2019). The results of this study serve as a ’slap’ and at the same time as a portrait that the healthy and safe aspect including the psychological side of workers is still a scourge in Indonesia. This is still only related to sexual harassment, not to mention bullying, seniority, blackmail, and so on.

As a foundation that focuses on women’s health issues, FMCH Indonesia takes part in tackling this problem. Since 2011, BSR has collaborated with us to implement the HERHealth Project which aims to increase the ability of female workers to maintain their health so that they can maximize work productivity. HERHealth Project even covers the OSH aspects of female workers, namely maximizing its implementation efforts in the workplace. Not only in Indonesia but HERHealth projects are also actively implemented in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Kenya, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Vietnam. Until now, FMCH Indonesia has implemented the HERHealth Project in 31 factories in Indonesia and has trained ±1,200 Peer Health Educators and reached ±65,000 female workers.

One of HERHealth Project Trainings: Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) at Work

HERHealth Project uses a peer education model to improve knowledge and health behavior in the workplace. The use of this method enables the dissemination of health information and knowledge in the workplace not only through formal training but also outside working hours such as during lunch, on the way home, informal chit-chat, etc. One of the trainings provided in the HER Health Project is about OSH at Work. This is given to protect female workers from various potential hazards that may arise in the workplace so that they can avoid illness or work-related accidents.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of female worker and company which did not yet realize the importance of this aspect. The important question to answer is, why female workers have to be protected? The quick, brief answer of it: why not? Women, female, or what you call it, are the main people in every aspect though. They need it more than anyone who needs it. This assumption is in line with a statement by Michele Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women. ”The voice and participation of women in all social aspects are more than important,” she said. Furthermore, in the Indonesian context, our minister of manpower and transmigration, Ida Fauziyah, warned all companies to give the best protection for female workers. For her, protection for female workers must come first because women’s resilience system is different and unique compare to men.

Hence, here are some important and concrete points for companies in providing safety and health environment for female workers: 

1.   Make sure every level of management understanding the safety and health policy 

2.   Providing proper facility to implement the safety and health aspect well 

3.   Safety and health training for all the staff regularly 

4.   Establish a good system and rule related to companies management, including an anti-sexual harassment policy

5.   Provide consultation room for workers

Besides, from the female workers’ side, they have to realize and understanding every potential dangerous list of their works. They have to understand the safety and health standard, its practical, and how to report if they find something improper. And here is a concrete to-do list for female workers

1.   Respect and obey all the safety and health regulations

2.   Identify all risk potentials in their workstation 

3.   Taking part in healthy and safe committee in companies

4.   Creating consciousness among colleagues, including for new members about the healthy and safe culture that is promoted and expected in their company

In fine, all statement is more than important for companies and female workers in implementing OSH aspect. The primary purpose is to protect the workers. Besides, good implementing will reflect a good picture of the company. Other people and society will trust the company more. Importantly, for all the workers, in every field of work, say to yourself loud that your good condition is your main priority; above all the work condition and risk. Protect yourself, protect your family, protect your beloved country. Happy world day of safety and health at work 2021!

Written by: Sarah Nadiah, Sarah Nadiah, HERHealth Project Coordinator and Nutritionist, FMCH Indonesia 

Edited by: Brigita Rumung, Media and Communications Officer, FMCH Indonesia