Awareness Raising Meeting (At Gujranwala)

The purpose of the meeting was to tell the HBWs of the district Gujranwala their labor rights, their exploitation by the middle person, to tell them how HomeNet Pakistan can help them, to tell they are not alone in the fight for the rights. They were told that HomeNet Pakistan arranged ID card campaigns in their districts so that they can get their ID cards issued and then the process of their social security cards would be started. Another purpose of this meeting was to know the problems that the HBWs of Gujranwala were facing and it was revealed that a few HBWs could not get their ID cards because they neither have their birth certificates nor their matriculation certificates were accepted in this regard. So it was big question that how they could be able to get their national identity cardsHNP asked its district partner to resolve the issue after consulting National Database and Registration Authority so that these HBWs can get their ID cards.

Afreen Fatima, the Program Officer of HomeNet Pakistan, told the participants that HomeNet Pakistan is a member of HomeNet South Asia, which consists of HomeNet Bangladesh, HomeNet India, HomeNet Nepal and HomeNet Sri Lanka. It is a network of organizations working for the recognition and labor rights of home based workers. HomeNet Pakistan was registered under the Societies Registration Act 1862 on November 2nd, 2005. It represents 500 organizations of home-based workers and currently has over 50,000 women members. HomeNet Pakistan is working for the Home-Based workers of Pakistan and is striving to provide them their basic rights. She added that when the HBWs are told about their share in the economy of Pakistan, it appears that it was news for them because they simply do not know how important their participation in the economy of Pakistan isThey do not have those facilities that a formal worker enjoys. HNP is doing advocacy for the HBWs that government should provide HBWs with those facilities as well, keeping in view their share in the growth of the economy. HNP is developing and strengthening the networking among the HBWs and organizations working with them and it facilitates their cross learning and cooperation to empower women. HNP arranges exhibitions and Melas for the HBWs to enhance their skills. Moreover any group of 10 to 15 HBWs can join HNP because HomeNet Pakistan is an inclusive organization and it is working for Home-Based Workers.

Ume Laila Azhar, the Executive Director of HomeNet Pakistan, said that the Home-Based Workers not only add their fuel as an earning hand for their family but also do their hold chores to keep the home business running. Now HNP is involving the government in this issue. The labor of informal sector is getting nothing from the government… not even the basic necessity of the social security so the HBWs who have the greater share in the economy of Pakistan are on the top of the list of deprived persons. She added that we want from the government to recognize the Home-Based Workers and also count their existence in the coming census so that they can get benefit of that. She said to the participants that we are to do a lot of work in this regard and there are a bundle of issues need to be addressed. When we work with the organizations, we come to the number of HBWs working with them. There is no such policy that deals with the issues of HBWs and that is concerned about the rights of HBWs. The 70% of the informal workers having a greater contribution to the informal economy of the country are deprived of the basic needs. The middle person is playing a very negative role. He/her behavior is exploitative because either the HBWs are totally dependent on him/her or they simply do not know that the market value of the products they produce. HNP organizes many exhibitions and melas of the products of HBWs where they can sell their products and the benefit of the sale directly goes to the HBWs. HNP formed a National Policy and presented it before the government. Now, the government will respond to it effectively if the pressure will be built from this level. HomeNet Pakistan wants that Home-Based Workers should have social security cards. And there should be no hindrance in it if they do not belong to any organization. Any group of 10 to 15 HBWs should get their social security cards so that those issues related to social security might be addressed. HomeNet Pakistan wants to work with HBWs and train them.

She told about the ILO C177 convention that it is the convention for the right of labors. It promises to give those basic rights like social security, equal working hours for both formal and informal workers, health etc. to the HBWs from which they are still deprived. She said that it is our responsibility that we should sensitize the government that it should ratify ILO C177. If the government ratifies this law the HBWs will get their basic labor rights.

During the meeting the home-based workers and the members shared several problems like the major issue that the Home-Based Workers were facing was that they did not have their birth certificates, so they could not get their ID Cards. So it was a great problem for them. The representative from the Social Welfare Foundation shared his problem that the HBWs do not tell about their issues openly. So it becomes very difficult to work for them. The role of the middle person is very exploitative. He/she does not pay for the first order usually. The HBWs get their first payment after the accomplishment of the second order.

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