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May 3, 2021

Home-based workers demand social protection

 
May 3, 2021

Lahore:Majority of women in the informal home-based sector are part of the invisible workforce which need to be recognised by the government of Pakistan. This was observed in a webinar organised by HomeNet Pakistan commemorating Labour Day.

In the opening session, Ume Laila, who heads HomeNet Pakistan (HNP), quoting figures from statistical analysis conducted by WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalising and Organising), said, “Women home-based workers in Pakistan in the sectors other than agriculture have more than doubled from around 680,000 in 2013-14 to 2 million in 2017-18 and their share in non-agricultural employment has increased from 21 to 28 per cent”. This increase is because of the growth in the number of women doing home-based work.

A huge work force of women in the home-based sector is working in garment and textile industry supply chains but their effort goes unrecognised.

Rehana Yasmin from Garment, Textile and Hosiery Union said that it is important for home-based women workers (HBWs) to register as unions so that they can do direct collective bargaining and negotiations. As registration of HBWs is starting in Sindh, it becomes imperative that women who are already organised should get themselves registered with Labour Department. This will give them strength for collective actions.

COVID-19 has impacted HBWs in the interior parts of the country.

Imran Korai, coordinator of District Action Committee, HomeNet Pakistan, from Dadu said that women in the rural belt are working more than 10 hours a day and are paid less. They work for seven days to produce one kilo of rope (waan) used for charpoys and other stuff which earns them Rs45 only. This is all hand work and seven steps are involved in making a fine rope which is ready for sale. The children of the family also help them in this work. All this goes unrecognised. COVID-19 and flooding in Sindh have made HBWs more vulnerable. They receive no support from the government in the shape of ration or medicines. Only local organisations help them, he said.

Speaking on the HBWs contribution in the global supply chains, Arshad Mirza from Bedari Sialkot said a huge women workforce is working in the soccer ball industry and sportswear. Initiatives taken for empowering home-based workers for upgrading their work into community-based centres has provided a platform for women to enjoy better and decent wages. But the work has been affected due to COVID-19.