Growth of poverty and inequality

There is a need to focus on the agenda of growth with equity and poverty-reduction programmes.

The latest variant of the manifesto of Pakistan People’s Party was issued in 2008. The party, after winning the election, is leading the ruling coalition. So, the items on the menu should provide central framework for what is being cooked in policy and planning kitchen of Pakistan. The manifesto promises growth with equity, meeting basic needs, targeted poverty programmes, and good governance.

Interestingly, the theme of growth with equity is something which should be very important component of the new growth strategy being developed in the Planning Commission of Pakistan. While growth is a necessary condition for equitable development, economic growth in itself does not guarantee social and economic well-being or human development. Experiences of some countries show that a few countries showed good performance in growth but lagged behind on the scale of human development.

Such a skewed growth could not adequately fuel the next rounds of expansion in economic opportunities, let alone sharing in an equitable manner with society. Human development in terms of increase in sustainability, empowerment, equity, and productivity remained a distant dream despite economic growth spurts. Some countries even lost economic growth momentum without entering into the stage of sustainable human development. Pakistan is an example of such countries which had respectable growth till the late 1960s but later experienced low levels of economic growth (with equity) because of faltering on human development. Much like some countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, a sizable proportion of the citizens of Pakistan has not been able to live a full-life pursuing cultural, economic, political, and social well-being.

It can be said that despite having economic growth, the group of countries which share Pakistan-like fortunes, languished in low levels of human functioning and capabilities to enjoy freedoms which modern economy could generate.

An often forgotten lesson, which emerges from these experiences, is that increasing the size of economic pie and making rich people richer does not make everyone better off later. In fact, it requires a vigilant developmental state which can administer ‘growth with equity’ as this sort of mention is found in Taiwan’s constitution — the country showing a good example in this direction of growth outcome.

One possible outcome of growth with equity is reduction in poverty and inequality in society. Conversely, inequality and poverty as persistent phenomena in economy means that a ‘differential diagnosis’ as Jeffery Sachs calls it, has to be made lest the patient dies an avoidable death. The diagnosis should not only be to identify the fever but also deep-rooted problems which irk infrastructure, institutional arrangements, culture and behaviours, power relations, and environment.

Pakistan needs a serious effort to undergo differential diagnosis exercise; otherwise it will keep languishing in low-human development perching on poverty and inequality. At best, it will be able to achieve boom and bust type of economic growth without really sharing the story of boom with the 40 percent of population while subjecting them to shoulder 99.9 percent burden of economic downturns.

Such a trend of poverty and inequality, if it persists, will perpetuate the loss of well-being for a sizable majority of people who will not be playing a role in expanding the market. In fact, poverty and inequality feeds onto itself with depriving a large segment of population from accessing opportunities of wealth creation and income generation.

The disparities so entrenched are further cemented with a gap between the rich and poor classes, thereby making the rich powerful political elites able to become rent-seekers. The policies developed by rent-seeking society do not create space for spending on public education and health.

As a result, the growth which is shown on macro-economic curves is the growth of a small but powerful class of people and not of the whole country. The figures become deceptive to the extent that 7-9 percent growth rate (2004-05) fades away in the next two years (2006-07) and tapers off to 3 percent later, such as the case in Pakistan. Without having coherence towards improving the distribution of wealth scenario, the quality of life will not improve for a large segment of society.

The case being made for New Development Approach (NDA) at the Planning Commission will become a bundle of profound promises showing rosy pictures of creative cities. To makes things well-meaning for the poor segments of society there is a need to focus on the agenda of growth with equity and targeted poverty programmes so that inequality does not feed disgruntled portions of society.

The new growth strategy, is it?

By Zubair Faisal Abbasi

The Planning Commission of Pakistan is developing what it calls a New Growth Strategy (NGS). The approach envisages increase in productivity, innovation, and entrepreneurship in Pakistan. It seeks to promote good governance as well as improve the structural capabilities of cities and change land entitlements in which economic efficiency is gained.

The ideals are worth-pursuing and have been adopted by many now developed countries in the past. However, these ideals were not always adopted in an ‘open economy’ fashion an idea on which the NGS has taken a hardliner position under the current economic management team at the Planning Commission.

The emphasis seems to be replica of ‘market-fundamentalism’ in which state is rolled back to the extent that it does not seem playing a role even in risk socialisation which is a necessary element in encouraging entrepreneurs to experiment for innovations in both product and processes. What is being re-sold by economic managers is a case for near-religious belief in the social and economic effectiveness of market and competition which rests more on logic and theory than empirical evidence. An analysis of this approach in NGS is necessary, an analysis which explains rhetorical promises. It is worth mentioning here that economic policy without being informed by history and institutions does not produce results.

In fact, economic growth strategies in the UK, USA, as well as China have historically been discriminatory to promote infant industries as well as import substitution and export promotion. These economies at the comparable level of development vis-Ã -vis Pakistan of today did not cherish the ‘open market’ and free competition at all. They carefully nurtured local capabilities. So much so that some scholars call the US the mother of infant industry which later (in 1980s) started imposing for free trade and free market policies in less developed countries.

The now-rich countries always have had built protective barriers for local entrepreneurs to seek growth in technological capabilities, leading to innovation and productivity gains to become competitive in international markets. They carefully managed competition as in boxing matches where different weight categories divide the players according to their capabilities. The now-rich countries’ experience also tells that they did not use open market and open access approach for Foreign Direct Investment either. They carefully planned the priority sectors and discriminated against various types of FDIs to avoid disorientation in resource allocations.

Coming to the issue of good governance which is a major promise in the NGS, the economic history tells that governance improves with increase in economic growth and not vice versa. Once citizens start enjoying services provided by the state and they grow rich, they start demanding good quality government and hence good governance. In Pakistan, one can see that the country slides down on transparency standards regarding corruption once its rate of growth starts faltering.

Another point must be noted that ultimately, these are the structures of economic rights and obligations which determines ‘who gets what’ when independent system of justice is implemented. Countries can perform badly on accounts of general social and economic well-beings despite having very strict implementation of laws. The systems of governance, especially the ones which govern the markets must protect the interests of poor individuals, labour, and local industries, otherwise under good governance the right of the powerful will be protected without any gains for social and economic equality. This aspect has not been given due importance in the NGS.

Merely aspiring to re-structure the role of the state as a facilitator for markets which return favours only on the basis of ‘ability to pay’ cannot ensure real social and economic well-being of Pakistan. This is absolutely not an answer to boom and bust cycles of the economy.

Market-fundamentalism also assumes that markets create the best economic and possibly social outcome through the medium of efficient allocation of resources. This assumption called “efficient market hypothesis” — now making the core of NGS in Pakistan — has seriously been challenged around the world, the current financial crisis being a glaring example of under-regulation leading to serious systemic risks.

The debate around sharing the benefits of economic productivity have re-surfaced in many countries such as US, UK and Tunisia and now Egypt while in Pakistan we are trying to avoid reconstructing the system of public finance and are more interested in inflation targeting. Trying to contain inflation without concomitant equality enhancing programmes would not serve long-term socio-economic development issues of Pakistan, the NGS team must know.

It seems that not having a party-trained economist to manage economy, anything is possible in Pakistan. Therefore, the so-called technocrats representing interests of the neo-liberal orthodoxy entrenched in the IMF, WTO, and World Bank can create NDA which is discredited elsewhere, surely at the cost of treatment which Pakistan direly needs.

The writer is Principal Consultant at Impact Consulting, Islamabad

Report of orientation meetings on membership based organisations of home based workers

Background and Objectives

A major objective of the HomeNet South Asia (HNSA) Inclusive Urban Planning (IUP) Project is to assist organizations working with home based workers (HBWs) to move towards an MBO (Membership Based Organization) governance and organizational structure. The first step in this respect is an assessment of the governance and organizational structures of selected member organizations of Country HomeNets in their respective countries.

The Structure Study is of critical importance for both HomeNet Pakistan (HNP) and HNSA, as it provides the baseline for the five-year IUP project against which the progress of various HNP members will be assessed over the life of the project. Hence it was vital that the study be carried out in a way that it provided a detailed picture of the organizational and governance structures of the organizations in the study sample. The structure study was designed to assess the organizational and governance structures and functioning of organisations of or working with home based workers.

The orientation meetings in Lahore and Karachi were conducted primarily for organizations participating in the structure study. They were to designed to assist these organizations to:

  • Gain clarity on the concept of MBO, including how to form an MBO and assessment of MBO status
  • Become aware of the findings of the structure study, and its implications for developing MBOs and HNP members.
  • Gain knowledge of the HNP membership policy
  • Take the first steps towards becoming an MBO


The workshop facilitator introduced the workshop objectives and presented the workshop agenda. The main agenda points were as follows:

  • Concept of MBO
  • Findings of Structure Study
  • HomeNet Pakistan Membership Policy
  • How to form an MBO
  • Next steps, Action Plan

The detailed agenda is given in Annex B.

Concept of MBO

The facilitator asked the participants the definition of an MBO. After noting their points the facilitator presented and explained the following characteristics of an MBO:

  • Democracy
  • Transparency
  • Accountability
  • Solidarity
  • Collective benefits
  • Independence (from government, political parties, religious groups, multi-nationals)

The facilitator emphasized that despite having regular elections many organizations were controlled by a few people in a non-transparent manner; hence they were not MBOs. She gave examples of MBOs, including trade unions, cooperatives, self-help associations, and movements. She pointed out that a few, but not most, NGOs were also MBOs if they fulfilled the criteria of an MBO. When asked about their status almost all those present said that they belonged to NGOs, except the Pakistan Mahigeer Tehreek and Hosiery Garment Textile Workers General Union.

It was pointed out that if an organization claimed that it was an MBO, HNP would have to independently assess the structure as well as the functioning of the organization in order to determine whether it was membership based and whether it functioned in a democratic manner. If an organization was not democratic in its functions and decision making, it was not an MBO.

Findings of Structure Study

The structure study was conducted in early 2010 by ISS and HNP for the IUP project. The key objective of the study was to assess the organizational and governance structures and functioning of organizations of or working with home based workers. The facilitator described the methodology of the study and then presented its key findings.

The methodology of the study involved a review of documentation of each organization, interviews of office bearers of organizations, focus group discussions with a sample of home based women workers (152 HBWWs from 17 organizations), development of data sheets and organizational profiles, and data analysis.

The sample included 23 organizations in 7 of the largest cities of Punjab and Sindh, including 18 NGOs, 2 unions, 2 companies, and one movement. (see Annex C for a list of organizations). All except the Pakistan Mahigeer Tehrik and the Hosiery Garments Textile General Workers Union, were registered.

Most of the organizations were NGOs and were quite old. They worked with some 17,339 Home Based Workers (HBWs), mostly women, but only a third of these HBWs were members of the organizations, and represented 56% of organizational membership (11,734). Only half of the members were voting members, whether HBWs or not. Only 41% of members paid fees on an on-going basis, while only a fourth of HBW members paid fees, which generally ranged between Rs. 5 – 20 monthly. HBW members appreciated the benefits of membership (financial benefits, increased awareness and confidence, and training).

Home Net Pakistan Membership Policy

The facilitator asked the participants what benefits organizations would get from becoming HN members. After noting their responses the facilitator presented the following benefits:

  • Become a pressure group for the formulation and implementation of policies and implementation of laws related to HBWs
  • Gain visibility/recognition of HBWs as labour for access to social security
  • Expansion in outreach, resulting in exposure to South Asian linkages, shared information, exposure to best practices, new technologies and markets
  • Receive training, technical assistance, marketing opportunities, support in resource mobilization (voting members will be given preference)
  • Capacity building to identify and meet needs of HBWs
  • 50% discount for members, and 75% discount for voting members on all HNP training courses
  • Possibility of attending the AGM and voting or standing for election on the HNP Board (only for voting members)

The facilitator asked the participants what benefits HBWs would get from becoming HN members. After noting their responses the facilitator presented the following benefits to HBWs:

  • Greater awareness of their rights
  • Recognition as labour and visibility
  • Receive training, technical assistance, marketing opportunities, support in resource mobilization
  • Opportunities for collective bargaining and negotiating
  • Linkages and access to national and regional markets
  • Opportunities for representation to decision making bodies (such as MBOs and HNP)
  • Participate in internships and exchange programs and exposure visits

Many of the organizations present had previously attended a consultation on HNP’s first strategic plan. During the consultation participants provided many suggestions regarding the membership policy of HNP. The facilitator mentioned that HNP had considered these suggestions while preparing its membership policy. The facilitator then presented the key features of the policy.

Any organization or group having at least 10 adult HBW members as certified by HNP And had paid the annual fee (Rs. 1000 for members and Rs. 500 for voting members) could become an HNP member. Certification would be valid for two years, after which the organization would be re-assessed by HNP. No registration or minimum period of existence was required for an organization to become an HNP member.

The facilitator presented the following criteria for attending the Annual General Meeting and voting to elect the Board of Governors:

  • Member of HNP for at least one year
  • At least 50% of the Board or Executive Committee/Council members of the organization should be HBWs
  • The organization should be an MBO of HBWs as verified by HNP

Action Planning / Next Steps

In the last session participants were informed that they would have to consult their organization regarding the following:

  • Whether to become an MBO or not? If yes, whether they wanted to make their own organization an MBO, or the HBWs in their organization, or both?
  • When to apply for HNP membership
  • When to undergo MBO assessment by HNP
  • Whether to participate in first training on setting up and running an MBO

They were asked to contact HNP in this regard after consulting their respective organizations.

In the end the HNP Executive Director thanked the participants.

Mapping of Home Based Workers in Lahore, Karachi, Gujranwala and Faisalabad

As a member of group of umbrella organizations in South Asian Region, HNP has been working in various spheres to promote Home Based Workers (HBW) especially women workers in all over the country. It has aim” Strive to empower Home Based Workers (HBW) to realize their economic, political and social rights through the strengthening of their respective organizations, adoption of fair trade practices, resulting in the improvement of their working and living conditions.”The research study has been planned and conducted with help of local CSOs, working partners, Home Based Worker Organizations (HBWOs), district coordinators, HNP team members and research team. Number of strategic planning sessions have been arranged to chalk out an effective research design to accumulate maximum possible data available in the field. Two different and separate research survey questionnaires have been designed on customized basis to gather wide range of information about HBWs and HBWOs.

Social Mapping of HBW and HBWOs

The research methodology has been devised according to nature of the problem and objectives of the research study. The nature of the research problem is more about qualitative rather quantitative, thus methodology of the study has been developed predominantly on qualitative basis. The primary and secondary research methods have been used in the study to access, analyze, and interpret all available data on HBWs and HBWOs in the targeted districts with respect to underlined factors and indicators.

The data shows that there are nearly 9 million home-based workers in Pakistan and more than 75% are women which hold a wide range of economic activities throughout the country mostly working within informal sector. The situation of HBWs is very vulnerable, oppressed, and looks exploited without going outside and leaving their homes. Mainly there are two types of HBWs exist in the country in general and in targeted areas as precised—Piece Rate Workers and Own Account Workers. HBWs do piecework for contractor, subcontractor, employer, and sometimes for their own work as family enterprises. The work can be related with new economy such as assembling goods or innovative service delivery and in old economy like weaving carpet and poultry industry.

HBWs constitute a major proportion of existing labor force in the country which is suffering a severe individual, economic, social, and family exploitation. The data analysis and report of FGDs shows that HBWs are forced to survive in unhealthy living and working conditions in respect to basic facilities, fundamental human rights, and economic benefits. They do not have either formal or informal representation in the labor market. There is no reward and award system has been found during the study and most of HBWs cannot get their economic benefits even promised by the contractors and agents of employers. Therefore, the most of HBWs workforce is remained invisible.

According to respondents of research, the HBWs are not part of manufacturing for local markets but they also largely contribute in supplies of international markets. HBWs are producing their products not only for local suppliers and companies but also a large number of international and multinational companies are beneficiary of HBWs. One hand they are producing garments, shoes, embroideries, bangles, and pottery products. On the other hand, they are contributing in producing electronic, footballs, textile, and handicrafts which are truly international products and meet global standards.

By looking through responses of FGDs and survey questionnaires, it is often difficult to make distinction between such types of HBWs. Thus we can differentiate them academically but cannot make them separate on basis of their work, their working conditions, workplace environments, living standards, and social capital. However, the predominant status of women in HBWs is very much vibrant and their number is increasingly growing with every passing day. There are several reasons behind their engagement in this informal economy. Due to specific culture of the South Asian region, parochial and male dominated societal norms, illiteracy, and inadequate available alternatives force them to join and work as HBWs. It seems easy and comfortable for them to work at their homes because they do not assume miseries and melancholy of the life of HBWs.

The study shows that there are nearly 12 million home based woman workers across the country . Most of them have no proper education, skill training, and other alternative of earning. Their homes are their workplaces and all family members are work in the same business without getting even proper identification from the concerned department and ministries. The pace and delivery of production can only predict that how many workers are engaged to produce one product. All family members of HBWs usually spend around 12 to 16 hours a day on their work in order to make ready all orders and get maximum cash. The governmental documents claim that women home based workers represent 60% of total workforce and only 4% male HBWs exist in contrast to female HBWs are 65%.

Key Findings:

The following key findings have been highlighted in response to data analysis of questionnaire for HBWs.

  • As per the collected data the age group that is involved in women home base work force varies from 21 to 50. Child labor is not involved directly but there is a huge potential for that. Home base women workers are highly vulnerable to the miserable life in terms of quality life; they have to live at the same place that is being used for the work. So if there is only one member of the family is involved in home based work force, rest of the family have to bear the work environment.
  • A huge number of home based workers especially women are registered in voter list but still either they use this right or participate actively in the democratic process is uncovered. This also illustrates that the home based workers are invisible in many state documents and legal procedures.
  • A huge number of the home based workers join this type of labor because of the squeezed opportunities available for economic growth and they just jump-in without any formal training. Only 7.5 percent workers get formal training but still they shift from one trade to other because of the market demand.
  • Home based workers are highly dependent upon hook and crook method. They never decide in an organized way and they just try to analyze the rumors they hear from the near surroundings. Even the available organizations and bodies don’t assist them in terms of collective decision making.

Shamshad Begum: A Home based worker (Case Study)

Shamshad belongs to Gujranwala. She is married and has six children’s (2 Sons, 4 Daughters). She did vocational course in plastic flower making by cut the used plastic bottles. She is working from last six years before her marriage. She started work to fulfill the basic needs of house. She continued her skilled work after marriage because her husband is a patient of TB and he does not work. She lives in a mud house; there is no wash room facility in her house, no sanitary, sui-gas and clean drinking water is available. There are no doors in her house. Her husband often used to beat her because of low income and unemployment. She works inside the house, middle man provide her work and collect it from her on weekly basis. She does not have any machinery middle man gave her scissors for work. She lived in a joint family. Her mother-in-law died and father-in-law is also ill and do not work. She looks after her Father-in-law, husband and six children’s alone. She daily works 08-10 hours to fulfill the needs of her house. Her husband do not give her permission to go outside to market her products so she works in house and gets work through middle man. She wants to improve her income for expenses to run her house. She is working hard to provide basic necessaries to her family members.

Baseline Survey of Chik-Makers in District Kasur

HomeNet Pakistan is a membership based network, comprising of membership-based organizations representing the majority of home based workers across Pakistan. HomeNet Pakistan envisions a society in which home based workers are ensured visibility, recognition, legal and social protection, and a decent standard of living.

The Baseline survey on the chik makers of Kasur has been carried under Project the Empowering Home Based Workers Project (EHBWP) funded by International Labor Organization (ILO) as a pilot project to ensure improvement in the quality of life of the HBWs residing in that area (Rasool Nagar) of District Kasur. The population of Rasool Nagar is approximately 10,000 however, as a pilot project HomeNet Pakistan will target the group of 40-42 HBWs identified during the survey.

HomeNet Pakistan conducted the survey in Kasur .As part of the survey, and individual interviews carried out during the baseline survey , problems of home based workers working in the trade of chik making (cane blinds). The findings gathered from District Kasur highlighted multiple problems being faced by HBWs which include great decrease in the volume of production and income; long hours of load-shedding has affected badly on the business; the HBWs have to work for a longer time; sense of insecurity is increasing day by day in the families; the state of health among women is in very bad condition; HBWs lack networking and linkages and their work is not being recognized as laborers and they do not have an easy access to micro financing.

The inferences gathered form the survey indicate that the home-based women workers of Rasool Nagar are living in almost every low-income urban locality in the country, as well as in remote rural areas, are amongst the most exploited group of workers. They constitute a major segment of labour deployment in the informal sector of the economy. Bulk of these worker producers live and work in ‘on-the margin’ survival conditions and do a variety of jobs for industry and trade, ranging from sewing garments, assembling electronic components to simple jobs of sorting, packaging and labeling goods. As a workforce, home-based workers have remained largely invisible with no recognition as a labor.

HBWs are poorly paid, their wages are less then their work and expenditure. The monthly earnings range form 1500 to 8000. Out of 40 HBWs of the target group 10 earns 1500 Re per month , 8 HBWs earns between 1800-2000, 11 earns 3000-4000 Rs per month, 8 HBWs monthly earning is between 5000-6000 Rs and only 3 HBWs disclosed that they earn about 8000 Rs per month. The prices of raw material have been increased 70% to 100%. That also increases the price of our product. As a result the demand of our products decreased a lot. Now we are receiving much less of our product, some time we have to sell at cost rate or we store it for the time when the prices of our products may go high. The women have to work for a longer time. Due to increase in the electricity charges, oil and gas prices and food items people’s purchasing power has come down.

The survey revealed that the HBWs do not have any contact with the local government and NGOs providing financial support, technical assistants/training and other help. Since they are illiterate and unorganized and even unaware of these institutions therefore do not have any concept and idea of such cooperation. Since the women are illiterate, immobile and not associated with some NGO of local groups therefore do not have any linkage with government institutions including Health Department, Education Department, DCO office, Life Stock and NADRA. Majority of the women were ignorant of their rights to collective bargaining and/or formation of any union or association. Almost all of them are totally unaware of Social Security, Employment Old Age Benefit, Workers Welfare Fund and Group Insurance etc. They simply stated that they do not have any knowledge of any of the Labor Laws.

The majority of women are unaware of marketing trends and other information price, quality and quantity available in the market. They even do not have the feedback about their own products as at what price those were sold in the market or to the customers directly. During last two/three years we have seen a increasing trend of prices in moveable and immoveable properties, durable goods, consumable and perishable food items but the prices of the products these home-based workers are producing and the wages they earn have not increased correspondently As a result 73% of women could not improved their income which untimely, due to increase the inflation rate, became poorer form poor.

Preponderance of the women workers involved in the chik making expressed their interest to learn skills to enhance their capacities; form groups so that they can collectively bargain for the rates and for their rights. Further they desired to get trainings and link up with micro finance, to earn more money so that they can help and support their families in improvement of their socio economic status.

Main Findings

The data inferences of the baseline have highlighted the following main findings:

Living Conditions

  • The working place of home-based workers is inadequate and shared with other household activities. This contributes to unhygienic and unhealthy work-living environment.
  • There is a very small place to live. There is only one room that serves as their work- place, bed-room, kitchen and wash-room simultaneously.

Household Chore

  • It is very hard to earn money as home-based worker. Because we have so many other responsible and assignments to complete, like preparing food, cleaning house, washing cloths, taking care of children, entraining guests etc. With theses duties we work to supplement family income.

High Cost of Living

  • The prices of almost all utility items have gone up. The price of raw material they purchase, the electricity they use, the cost of transportation they pay have increased much, which ultimately affected us much. The load-shedding for hours in villages has very bad affect on the business and the general life of home-based workers.
  • Women workers, working at home are most affected by socio political crisis. They have started giving more time to their work to produce more and more products to meet the gap of profit margin.

Food and Health

  • The families have reduced their expenses made in past on food, children education and even for health. Some families had to discontinue their children education joined them in their work.
  • The state of health among women is very bad. There is no basic health unit in the area. They would go the city of Kasur for treatment some years back but now due to increase in the fare and treatment cost they can not afford to get medical aid. They either go to traditional healers or wait for recovery by it-self. The fingers of women and girls in the village are mostly injured and de-shaped due to the work they do. They just use mustard oil, a low-priced way of treatment. No hospital or dispensary in their area.

Energy Resources and Raw-Material

  • The majority of home-based women workers described that there is a change in their work life. The prices of raw material have increased, the electricity charges have also been increased, and electricity load-shedding and other high prices of food items etc. have very badly affected their work and earnings.
  • The prices of raw material have been increased 70% to 100%. That also increases the price of our product. As a result the demand of our products decreased a lot. Now we are receiving much less of our product, some time we have to sell at cost rate or we store it for the time when the prices of our products may go high. The women have to work for a longer time. Due to increase in the electricity charges, oil and gas prices and food items people’s purchasing power has come down.
  • There has been is a great change emerged in context of volume of production and income, of the home-based women workers during last year. High trends of decrease in the order work and sale of their products have been noticed. The prices of raw material used in Chiks Making (Cane Blind) and Winding Ropes have been increased many fold that affected their business, profit and general livings at large.


  • Income is less as compared to utilization. Longer and undefined working hours. Their normal working hours 8 to10 but at the end they receive almost nothing in the shape of money. As the home of the HBWs is their work place, and that usually consists of not more than 1 or 2 rooms, and the family members are usually more than 8, this all creates stress and badly affects their health.
  • Some of them want to expand their work by purchasing technical machines but due to lack of money they cannot purchase that and expand their business. HBWs are poorly paid, their wages are less then their work and expenditure. The monthly earnings range form 1500 to 8000. Out of 40 HBWs of the target group 10 earns 1500 Re per month , 8 HBWs earns between 1800-2000, 11 earns 3000-4000 Rs per month, 8 HBWs monthly earning is between 5000-6000 Rs and only 3 HBWs disclosed that they earn about 8000 Rs per month.
  • Role of middle men is crucial and a lot dependency on the middle man or contactor for work. Preference to the female middle person was indicated.

Lack of other Earning Opportunities

  • The home-based workers are specialized in Chiks (cane blinds) making only. There is no other work or skill which can be utilized for supporting family income. There is no factory or mill where men or women could work. However some women have started embroidery work and some men are selling vegetable and doing labour work.

Assess to Information and other Support

  • No NGO ever visited this area and talked to them for their problems. HomeNet Pakistan was the very first NGO visited this village and addressed the issues. Some of the women came to the City of Kasur (for Focus Group Discussion and interview) first time in their life, where as this village is hardly at 30 km distance from the City.
  • No government support in any kind is available to the home-based workers. They are not associated and introduced to any of organizations to support their work. Home Net Pakistan is the first organization who took this initiative.
  • These workers need to be recognized as laborers under government labor laws, health and loan facilities should be given, their trade should be protected and better marketing facilities be arranged for them.
  • Lack of awareness on basic legal and labor rights. None of the HBWs are aware of the legal and basic fundamental rights including labor rights.
  • The cluster of HBWs reported to have no information regarding Government facilitation and the role of the local government and other government machineries already working in the district.
  • No proper transport system available for the women for mobility and transport is a serious issue along with the fares as they are increasing day by day due to energy crisis.

Training and Skill Development

  • The HBWs have so far not received any training to improve their work and strengthen their capacity. They need capacity building trainings to create innovation in their work, in the present condition they cannot generate more income.


  • Some of the HBWWs are facing some other issues like insecurity within household from their immediate relations. Violence and especially domestic violence is crucial problem. Majority of the male members do not work and stay at home and women are nourishing the whole family.

Social Security

  • In order to reach out to the social security benefits they need National ID cards which are missing. Only 7 out of 40 HBWs had ID cards, 33 do not have ID cards.
  • The majority of the target group of HBWs is not interested to continue their cane /blind work due to low wages. They are not satisfied with the production and working condition. HBWs have no other opportunity to earn money so they are bound to continue with Chik /cane blind making .There are no defined working hours.


  • The group is not organized in the form of Community/association. Lack of proper linkages with the line department and local CSO networks observed.

On the basis of survey findings following broad conclusions were drawn:

  • A large number of women are illiterate having no professional/certificate training course.
  • It has been observed that women are not aware of their legal rights and the Govt. schemes and microfinance schemes.
  • They are living in poor circumstances and poor housing conditions. Many households haven’t in house toilet facility. They either have to cook inside their room or in small courtyard. They are not satisfied of their living conditions as they need more space and their homes consist of one or two rooms are not spacious enough for the family and work.
  • Their income is very low, irregular and they are living a very poor life.
  • The respondents of this survey were HBW Kasur District. As target group of 42 women taken. The average age was 15-35 years majority of them were illiterate.