“Strategic Vision for Moments in South Asia”
6,7,8th December, Dhaka, Bangladesh

STRATEGIC VISION FOR HOMENETS IN SOUTH ASIA “ 6-7-8TH DECEMBER, DHAKA, BANGALDESH

The workshop on “Strategic Vision for HomeNet in South Asia” was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from 6-8 December 2010, at the Hotel Purbani. The past accomplishments of and challenges facing the HomeNets were discussed, along with future plans, in order to move collectively toward an overall vision that will guide the HomeNets’ efforts for the coming years. These ideas were discussed at the level of the country HomeNets as well as at the regional level (HomeNet South Asia level), and included consultations with guest speakers and with SABAH (marketing) organization representatives who have started to work with country HomeNets.

Participants included HomeNet and SABAH representatives from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. In addition, Dave Spooner, who is part of the training team for South Asia, came from Manchester, England as a representative of WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing). He discussed in detail the idea of membership-based organizations (MBOs) and how the concept may be applied in the case of the HomeNets on both the national and regional levels, and potentially to the SABAH organizations as well.

Other speakers made formal presentations Firoza Mehrotra was also very helpful in providing a framework for discussion, and Chandni Joshi and Shehnaz Kapadia took on the responsibilities of helping chair the presentations and provide useful comments as presentations and discussions were carried out.

First day started with the presentation by Sapna Joshi of HomeNet South Asia and Renana Jhabvala of HomeNet South Asia and SEWA regarding the journey of HomeNet South Asia.The experiences of the participating country HomeNets and the question of the relationship between the HomeNets and SABAH was also discussed.

The discussions on the second day of the meetings emphasized the vision for the HomeNets that includes building strong and sustainable MBOs; a more general overview of the past achievements and challenges as well as the future vision of HomeNet South Asia at the regional level; and a discussion focusing on how the HomeNets and SABAH organizations might work together in the future. Regarding the importance of building strong and sustainable MBOs, Dave Spooner pointed out that a wide variety of organizational forms can work either as “true” MBOs or as organizations that can support homebased workers without being strictly membership-based and membership-run (e.g., certain types of voluntary organizations and NGOs). He noted that the key elements that define MBOs include:

  • Democratic partnerships (equal and democratic relationships within the organizations)
  • Transparency in all organizational processes
  • Solidarity in the sense of a recognized and clear unity of purpose
  • The goal of deriving collective benefits as a motivating force behind the formation of MBOs
  • Independence from government, corporations, politicians and religions.

The achievements of HomeNet South Asia were then discussed in terms of progress regarding solidarity, visibility and identity issues.

Firoza Mehrotra then presented the “five pillars” that can serve as the basis for consolidated vision for HomeNets in the future. These included working on

  • Visibility
  • Capability
  • Social and economic security
  • Mobility
  • Connectivity

Each point was taken up in turn, and discussed by participants in detail. This foundation can serve as a basis for constructing a strong and comprehensive vision.

Group work was then carried out on the theme of how the HomeNets and the SABAH organizations might work together in the future, and follow-up discussions enumerated some of the possible forms of cooperation.

The third day of the meetings was highlighted by Elaben Bhatt’s discussion regarding the benefits of organized and time-based activities that, if carried out in a well-planned way, can work toward significant poverty alleviation – particularly in the case of poor women workers. She highlighted the importance of the relationship between the HomeNets and SAARC, and also the relationship between the HomeNets and SABAH organizations.

Finally, Sapna Joshi of HomeNet South Asia presented the Resolution of HomeNet South Asia, emphasizing the need for decent work for homebased workers, on the occasion of SAARC Charter Day (SAARC Charter Day fell on the third day of the meetings – December 8). The Resolution was presented in the form of eight specific objectives in line with SAARC Development goals for 2007-2012. The Resolution also emphasized the importance of homebased workers in South Asian economies, where the majority of women workers are homebased.

Following the adoption of the Resolution, the final discussion of the day focused on the question of when it would be best to celebrate a Homebased Workers’ Day. The date most favored was the October date of the Kathmandu Resolution. This was also supported by the majority of participants and was adopted as the date for an International Day for the Homebased Workers.

The three day workshop to develop a Strategic Vision for the HomeNets thus ended on this forward-looking and energetic note, and was closed with a vote of thanks for participants in view of all of their contributions to the success of the meetings.

MEDA Trainings in 5 clusters

INTRODUCTION

The objective of this consultancy was to train the project staff of the five KFPs, especially the Rural/Urban Facilitators, to build their capacity to assist the Sales Agents and selected clients to build their trade based association or join an existing association.

Initially MEDA Pakistan carried out an exercise to determine the need for a trade association among project staff and their clients. At the same time MEDA Pakistan engaged HomeNet Pakistan (HNP) to validate the need assessment exercise, and develop a training module and guide to conduct training.

The needs assessment exercise clearly identified the need for an association, and training to form and run an association.

The number of participants was close to the upper limit of 30 participants set by the trainers, except in the case of Haripur (38 participants). All the KFPs except WESS (which invited two FAO staff) followed the guidelines for participant selection and invited KFP staff, sales agents, contractors, or producers to the workshops.

PROCEEDINGS

The agenda and format of the five workshops was similar. Hence this chapter provides an overview of

Value Chain Analysis (VCA)

The VCAs were presented by Project Coordinators or other relevant staff members. The Karvaan and PSWS presentations clearly explained how value was added in each link of the chain, and made a clear distinction between the actors in the value chain, and those providing business development services outside the value chain.

The trainer used the VCA presentation to bring out the linkages between factory and home based workers, and how the factories shifted work to homes to avoid provision of minimum wages, social security, and other facilities, as well as unionization and union pressure.

Characteristics, Benefits, Activities and Status of a Trade Association

the following definition of an association:

“…where two or more persons are bound together for one or more common purposes by mutual undertakings, each having mutual duties and obligations, in an organisation which has rules identifying in whom control of the organization and its funds are vested, and which can be joined or left at will.”

Possible benefits of a trade association:

  • Information sharing
  • Get better price for bulk purchase of inputs
  • Client able to get high volume of outputs from a single source
  • Get more orders
  • Increased market access
  • Opportunities for training and exposure visits
  • Access to social protection
  • Get National Tax Number as a member of a collective

What is an MBO

The members of an MBO could be members of a political party, but the decisions of the MBO should be made by its members and not by a political party. Similarly it was important to follow government rules in order to be a registered organization, but no government agency would have the right to make decisions for the MBO, which would be made by its members.

Examples of policies, procedures and values of an association included membership policies, savings and loan policies, etc. Examples of values included non-discrimination on the basis of religion, sect, education or ethnicity.

Activities/roles of a trade association:

  • Form a membership-based organization
  • Collective bargaining
  • Collective savings
  • Bulk purchase of inputs
  • Develop skills of members
  • Assist members to develop business plans, market linkages
  • Develop pressure for obtaining social and economic rights
  • Arrange group financing
  • Organize and participate in exhibitions

Forming a Trade Association

The constitution should guide members when taking difficult decisions, and should promote collective rather than individual decision-making. All the members should be familiar with the constitution.

Membership

  • Existing FSAs will identify potential FSAs for registration to expand membership (Kaarvan)
    • Membership criteria: residents of the area (Kaarvan, WESS); 15 years or older; has skill and permission to work; able to give time (WESS)
    • Include members who cannot contribute money but can work voluntarily for the association (WESS)
    • Decisions should be made by at least 70% of members (most participants)
    • Membership fees ranged from Rs. 100 to Rs. 500 monthly and Rs. 1000 to Rs. 6000 annually
    • Have permanent and temporary members, with temporary members requiring three years to apply for permanent membership, which would be decided by the general body (PSWS)
    • Termination of membership: consecutive non-attendance in 3 meetings (WESS, Haleeb), non-payment of fees (Haleeb); repeated non-completion of order work (WESS); however, notice should be given (WESS)

    Meetings

    • Monthly meetings between 1st and 5th of every month (Kaarvan)
    • 80% attendance in meetings essential (Kaarvan)

    Finances

    • Micro-finance and insurance through MFIs/banks, guaranteed by Executive Committee, including recovery procedures in case of death or leaving of loanee/insured (some participants preferred to use savings rather than taking loans, even if this involved longer wait time) (Haleeb)
    • Should not wait for external financial support but through self-help (WESS)

    Business

    • Contact relevant companies for business (Kaarvan)
    • Involve men in association for business (marketing) purposes and technical advise (Kaarvan)
    • Some groups (e.g. Haleeb) included business development plans in the constitution

    Staff

    • The association would not keep any salaried staff initially. This decision would be considered at a later stage, when membership and work load expands. (Kaarvan)
    • Executive Committee would be for 3 years (Kaarvan)
  • HomeNet, national policy, importance of and efforts for recognition of home based workers, economic and social rights
  • Recognition and effectiveness through unity
  • Value chain
  • MBOs: self-help, independence, participation, collective decision-making
  • Nature, objectives, benefits and structure of associations
  • Formation, developing a constitution and registration of associations, constitutional amendments, organizational committees, volunteers, roles and responsibilities of members/office bearers
  • Leadership qualities
  • Communication
  • Knowledge about business
  • Working in groups and respecting opinions

Participation and Accountability in Associations

  • Special committees to assist in business development services, including identification of designers, training, marketing, arranging exhibitions (WESS)
  • Market survey by Secretary and sharing of information with members (Haleeb)

Accountability in associations

The importance of accountability in organizations, focusing on financial and political accountability.

  • Joint account of President and Treasurer/Secretary Finance (Haleeb)
  • Expenditures should be decided collectively (SRSP)
  • All members should know about all sources of funds (WESS)
  • President or Secretary Finance can organize audit of accounts (WESS)

The election process

The additional points mentioned by the participants in plenary are categorized under three headings below

Pre-election

  • Form 3-member election committee
  • Inform voters about importance of elections, voting process,
  • Inform voters about time and place of elections one week before
  • Candidates should be free of pressures or harassment
  • End campaign two days before elections
  • Voting booth should be easily accessible

Election day

  • To ensure confidentiality have election symbols and ballot boxes
  • Start elections on time
  • Election agents present
  • Transparent voting process, votes counted in front of everyone

Post-election

  • Inform results as quickly as possible
  • Keep election record for future possible use

FGDs on Urban Policy

HomeNet Pakistan arranged meetings with Organizations in Lahore, Gujranwala, and Faisalabad for the Advocacy and awareness raising of home-based women workers on their labor rights. It was attended by representatives of the organizations.

Objectives of the Focus Group Discussion

  • Advocacy and awareness raising of home-based women workers on their labor rights.
  • To identified the urban issues of HBWs.

The objective to hold this meeting was to do the discuss how to improve the livelihood of HBWs and how can they get benefit from social schemes keeping in view all the limitations that may come across.

Proceedings of the Meeting

The participants introduced themselves after introduction of Home Net Pakistan and its activities was given. The social security laws include (but are not limited to) the a) old-age pension funds, b) workers welfare funds, c) general and reproductive health services for workers and their families, maternity care, child care and education, d) death, disability and accident insurance benefits, d) housing, e) legal counselling services, and f) last but not least, support for disaster risk reduction, preparedness, mitigation, reconstruction and rehabilitation was discussed. Insurance of HBWs against accident, disability and death shall also be the mandatory responsibility of the employers. These all concerns also mentioned in the questionnaire that whether the organization registered with department who provide these all benefits to workers.

It was informed to the participants that the vision of Home Net Pakistan is trying to identify the HBWs Organizations working at districts and its mission is to bring about policy and institutional changes by mobilizing communities to transform their lives through equitable and sustainable use of resources without any discrimination against social origin, sex, race, caste and religion.

Main Findings

  • The home-based workers face many problems while working at home. They have to do many other house hold chores. This damages their health.
  • They have to work for long hours and sometimes they have to work even in the nights also to complete their orders and because of unhealthy working environment these HBWs suffer from many diseases and have no medication facility.
  • The organizations which are working are not registered with EOBI, Social security, health and life insurance departments. So they want to be registered with these departments for the welfare of HBWs.
  • The organizations working HBWWs discussed the different issues of urbanization which are they facing.

CMST and BMST

2 Day Community Management Skills Training (CMST)

A two-day Community Management Skill Training (CMST) was held under ILO Project at Kasur for two COs of Rasool Nagar Village, recently formed by HNP.

Objectives of CMST:

Giving awareness to the groups on:

  • Community management through a formal group
  • Role, Responsibilities and Importance of a social organization
  • Importance of Networking
  • Conducting activities of the organization

Issues covered

  • Role of women in economic development
  • Planning of development activities
  • Importance and role of a CO
  • Role of the members of the CO
  • Holding an effective and result-oriented Meeting of CO
  • Writing Regulations
  • Writing minutes of meetings on register
  • Motivational capabilities
  • Features and technique of motivation
  • Do and Don’t of Holding Meetings
  • Do and Don’t of Motivation techniques

The Proceedings

The session was started with the registration of participants who were 42 in total. A brief introduction of women was held informing about their work they are doing at home. Introduction and role of HNP was made briefly. Ms. Bushrah, after that took over the session and the issues including Role of women in economic development, Planning of development activities, Importance and role of a CO and Role of the members of the CO. The issues and problems at their workplace, working process, health hazards, marking of products and organizing themselves also came under discussion.

The women took great interest in discussion and most of the time they participated in conversation and expressed their point of view fully. The session was supported with question/answer, group discussion, conducting role-play, group work, slide show and other effective ways. Relevant videos were played to give a support to the subject matter.

The major topics were discussed with the help of slide show to give clearance in though and understanding.

Managing Director and other senior staff also attended the last session of CMST and discuss various issue of human/community development.

Impact

In the end of session when the participants were asked as what they have learned today, there comments were as under:

  • I have come to know that Union is Strength
  • We first time felt that we are doing a great job and we can improve it by using our collective potency
  • I was ashamed of work that I was doing but now I realize the Dignity of Labor
  • There is a great Importance of working in group.
  • Our children must get education and for the we will make struggle
  • We can get education and learn in even elder age.

Out Come

  • Women were able to know the importance and advantages of working in a group
  • They were aware of significance and role of Networking
  • They were able to conduct a meeting of CO, formulate need and objectives of the meeting, indicate activities to address the needs, making action plan, giving responsibilities to members drafting resolution and writing minutes in the register. They went through this process by holding a role play.
  • They felt the need of recognizing work and themselves as Workers/Laborer

2-Day Business Management Skills Training (BMST)

A training manual was developed for the BMST and a Resource Person contacted this training. It enabled the HBWs to look into the feasibility of the intended business and maintain the records of cash flow more effectively. A two day BMST was held from 13 to 14 December at Kasur. The issues discussed in this skill training included identification of business opportunities, resource allocation, human resource development, technical assistance, raw material procurement, division of labour, area selection, business plan, opening bank account, documents required, time management and record keeping etc.

Processes of Partnership

Partnership has been established with non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, corporate sector and other individuals committed to curb poverty and work for the HBWs. For this purpose the following local NGOs were contacted and a joint meeting of HBWs was held with them:

  • Birra Walfere Organization
  • Good Thinker
  • Suthar Foundation
  • Pukar Foundation
  • Women Development Organization
  • Anjuman-e-Flaho Behbood
  • SOS

Following were the objectives of the meeting:

  • To introduce the HBWs with other NGOs working in project area.
  • To inform the other NGOs about the COs of the Rasool Nagar.
  • To bring the Close coordination between the NGO and COs.
  • To discuss the problems which the HBWs have been faced.
  • To provide the Platform to both organization which they may have to solve their common problem.

Case Study

Uzma Ameen is 22 years old married women from Kahna Nou, a village 25 km away form Lahore on Kasur road. She is F.A. pass and works for Salma Sitara at Adda for lady suits. This is joint family of 8 members, living in a two-room small accommodation. She looks for a better place to work as the nature of work needs an ample place to fit Adda. She has been doing this work since last 4 years as piece rate worker and earns just Rs. 500 a month. She works for 6 to 8 hours a day for the whole week. She gets order work direct form market even then her earning is too little.

Uzma has to look after her two little girls, do her home-hold chore and the works relating to her husband. Her husband is a laborer and gets irregular work. She is also supporting the family financially with her little contribution. There is no financial progress and economic betterment despite of working for a long time and long hours. She is attached with a local social organization, Women Workers Union. She is an active member of the organization, attend its meeting regularly and participate in decision making, yet the organization could not help her in getting good wages, more work and on-time payment. She is not registered with Employees Old-age Benefit Institute. She has never taken loan form banks or micro credit schemes. She is not benefited with the facilities of social security schemes, health card and Benazir Income Support Program.

The area where she lives is polluted and the source of clean drinking water is hand pump. This water can not be used without boiling it before use. She is suffering from back ache (continuous sitting in a special position to work) and high blood pressure. Health facilities are not available in the village and they have to move to Lahore city for treatment.

Regarding her needs and demand Uzma informed that she needs more and regular order work, health facilities near her village, nearby availability of conveyance and training in her skill to work more professionally.