Civil society demands speedy approval of provincial HBWs policy

Karachi: The civil society on Wednesday demanded from the Sindh government to hurry up the approval of home-based workers’ (HBWs) policy which lies pending before a committee formed to finalise a social protection framework for them.

Addressing the media at the Karachi Press Club, they urged the government to speed up the approval and announce the policy by International Women’s Day to be observed on March 8.

A representative of HomeNet Pakistan, Ume Laila Azhar, said home-based workers comprised a significant portion of the workforce but they were denied the basic rights of social benefits.

She said the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) home worker Convention, Kathmandu Declaration of 2000 and South-Asia’s regional plan of action for home-based workers all required recognition of such and including them in the mainstream workforce, and consequently the national economy.

She said the Sindh government should be proactive in approving and adopting the home-based workers’ policy and legislation, which were still under consideration.

Azhar lamented that despite the ILO convention and Kathmandu Declaration, most of the home-based workers remained unidentified, invisible, unrecognised, discriminated against, voiceless and were denied their rights as workers. She said such workers were an important source of employment, especially for economically and socially-disadvantaged women who formed most of the home-based workforce.

The chief of Pakistan Institute of Labour, Education and Research, Karamat Ali, said home-based work was a global phenomenon and existed in all sectors of employment, including industrial and service sectors.

He said home-based workers contributed significantly to the national and global economies and linked to it through value and supply chains in the local markets. He said their revenue was generally incorporated into national collection systems or into development agendas and programmes but their contribution remained invisible and unrecognised.

Ali appreciated the efforts of Sindh government in finalising the home-based workers policy but said the delay in its approval was causing uneasiness and raising grave questions about the government’s stance of being pro-poor. He called on the government to keep its promises and regularise the informal working sector and provide protection to it.

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