An Elusive Break for Women Brick Makers to Observe International Women’s Day

Bhubaneswar: While the twin city was busy in celebrating International Women Day in big conference halls there were group of women who were silently observing the day with a difference amidst their workplace in the outskirt of Bhubaneswar.
In a departure from usual practice, brick kiln operators allowed women workers to go for a day-long social gathering – an elusive break unheard of in the sector – on occasion of International Women’s Day on Thursday.
Brick making involves intensive manual labour as both husband and wife mostly take wage advances against future works. Under the circumstance, brick kiln operators try to extract as much work they could from workers who are provided dingy shelters at worksites.
At brick kilns, standard working hour has got no meaning with both men and women made to work overtime to complete their targeted bricks. The backbreaking work often takes toll on women’s health.
“We come to work here against wage advances. During brick-making season, each day of a week appears to us as another day of work. We are made to toil long hours and hardly get leisure time to share what is happening in our lives,” said Smt Pramila Nahak of Smruti brick kiln.
She said, “most of us did not have idea as to what is International Women’s Days and what is its significance. Probably, the gesture Aide et Action, the NGO working with our children has opened a window to present difficulties we face at worksites.”
Mr Umi Daniel, Director – Migration Education of Aide et Action South Asia says that the celebration of Women Day by women brick makers will reiterate a strong message to the society on dignity, rights and multiple role played by women as a migrant, a working women, a working mother, a working wife and a care giver to her family on the move.
On Thursday, nearly 150 women and adolescent girls gathered from nearly 8 brick kiln sites near to twin city to celebrate this a fun filled day with music chair, songs, drawing and traditional mural etc.
Estimates suggest that women constitute half of the total construction workers in India and hugely contributing to the national economy. Despite, the women migrant worker engaged in construction sector being neglected, ignored and discriminated in all front. The migrant women workers continue to be denied minimum and equal wage, remain unskilled, lack basic health and reproductive care, denied basic safety facilities at worksite, encounter sexual harassment and abuse at worksite, lack worksite crèches and child care centre, and as a migrant women; alienated from accessing all government entitlements and services at the destination worksites.

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