Membership Based Organization

Networks are considered as tool for institution to work at a much wider scale and in a more flexible way. A network to be highly effective, it needs time, long term commitment and adaptive management practices. Diversity among the members creates operational and functional ownership that leads to improves over all objectives of the networks.

The practice of forming networks in not limited to social sector .In order to achieve their goals, various associations, business organizations and Multinational Corporation develop their own alliances and consortium to assist each other and protect their collective interests. Over a period of time they become formal networks. Sometime network function like a branch offices of the members; they coordinate activities that fall under common purview.

A network works more effectively if the member’s organizations that are a part of the network; are more democratic, organized, and transparent, have good governance systems, have elected leaders representing their constituency, and have internal accountability.

Member Based Organizations are different form other Non Governmental Organizations. The democratic governance structures of MBO are intended to provide both internal accountability and external legitimacy; characteristics not shared by non governmental organizations. While this basic distinction is our argument, there can be of course intimate relation ship between NGO and MBOs. In many cases cited NGOs help the local community to organize their members based organization and not only this. NGOs offer services such as financial, education or health services to the local MBO and its members; thus have a very legitimate and strategic connection and partnership which serve in a better way for advocacy efforts and service delivery.

Keeping in view that the networks are formed to fulfill some key functions like:

  • Communication: across both horizontal and vertical dimension
  • Creativity
  • Consensus

One cannot deny the fact that networks are often formed in Pakistan by one organization under one program or project but there are also some networks which are formed by number of organizations in collaboration with the community based organizations and once the objective is achieved the network cease to exist . As a matter of fact there are number of networks still present in the country which came into being because of a certain cause or issue and as an off shoot or certain project activity but these networks, still are present and working for issue or cause having commitment and consensus among all the members.

The debate here is to sustain the networks in terms of their affectivity and importance as “Agent for social change. The best available and accepted worldwide option for the networks to work effectively is of having those organizations as its members who are members based and have certain criteria that fulfills their niche and presents a true picture of the a democratic structures.

What are MBOs?

Membership Based Organizations (MBOs) as those in which the members elect their leaders and which operate on democratic principles that hold the elected officers accountable to the general membership.

Key characteristics of MBOs

  • The organization’s primary objective is to cater for the socio-economic needs of its members (vs., for example, providing careers for professionals or profits for investors).
  • The organization has a well-defined constituency from which membership is drawn (e.g., homebased workers).
  • The organization is financed (in part) by its members.
  • The highest decision-making structure is (or should be) the most representative forum of members.
  • A strongly developed sense of ownership of the organization by its members, and the accountability of the leadership to the membership.
  • The organization embodies values of cooperation and solidarity.

Types of MBOs: Within this broad framework, there is a wide range of MBOPs:

  • Trade unions
  • Cooperatives of various kinds: production, service, marketing, credit, bank
  • Worker committees
  • Savings-and-credit groups/self-help groups
  • Community-based finance institutions
  • Funeral associations
  • Informal insurance institutions
  • Producer groups
  • Village or slum associations
  • Community based organizations, some of which represent traditional social groupings (based on kinship, caste, patron-client relationships)
  • Clubs: youth, recreational

Base-line survey of the Bangle – Workers

Colorful and beautiful bangles attract every woman but nobody knows about the toil, agony and pain suffered by their manufacturers and that too against a little money like only Rs. two or three per day (US$0.07 cents). The manufacturing of bangles was registered as an industry by the Pakistan Government and got the industrial status of industry in 2007 National Employment Policy but unfortunately its workers are not recognized as workers and they are still deprived of all the Social Security measures. The process of manufacturing of bangles is very complicated. Bhatti (Oven) work, Sadai (aligning/ arranging), Jurrai (welding the bangle), Katai (Cut-work), Murrai (Curve designs on bangle by glass), Chapai (painting on the bangles), Decoration work (lace, bead, packing etc), Boond/ Heel, Chaklai, Chatakh (Slashing), marvi and roll filling are the various stages of bangle-making.

Realizing the miserable plight of the workers, specifically women and child workers the survey, conducted by the Labor Education Foundation (LEF) in collaboration with HomeNet Pakistan, is an effort to highlight the miseries of the bangle-workers. It would certainly help the policy makers to formulate comprehensive policies for the under privileged groups involved in this industry.

Objectives

  • To find out the number of home-based (HB) women and girl-children engaged with bangle industry in urban areas of Hyderabad.
  • To know the working condition of Home-Based Workers (HBW) of bangle industry
  • To highlight the ratio of harassment and human rights in the industry
  • To find out the whole procedure of the bangle- making and analyze the socio economic condition of workers belonged to bangle- making
  • To get viewpoints of government officials, investors and contractors

Methodology

A comprehensive methodology was planned and adopted by the HomeNet Pakistan to conduct the survey of the workers involved in the bangle making in Hyderabad. A questionnaire, qualitative as well as quantitative, was chalked out consisting of various questions about the age, education, health facilities, wages, social security benefits etc. A survey of the localities was undertaken and eight localities were selected where a large number of home-based women workers of Bangle industry were residing. At present there are about 23 factories of bangle-making working in Hyderabad. HomeNet Pakistan selected ten matriculated HBWW with the help of Home-Based Women Workers Centers Association (HBWWCA) and Labor Education Foundation (LEF). After collecting the data it was tabulated, computerized, analyzed and report was compiled. Apart from getting the information required through the questionnaires specific interviews, in detail, were also held for case studies. Photographs were also taken.

The Condition of the Bangle Workers

Education

The survey revealed that 53% of the women workforce involved in bangle industry is illiterate due to poverty and lack of educational facilities in their locality. About 17.4% women have passed middle standard of education which also included those who have passed only seven classes. Whereas only 13% women got primary education and most of them have not completed and left the schools from second or third standard. Only one woman was graduate among the 500 respondents.

Marital Status

The survey revealed that 309 out of total 500 women workers were married which constitute about 61.8% of the total women workforce. They had to work to keep body and soul together in this age of stringency. About 150 out of total 500 women workers, involved in the base-line survey, were unmarried young girls. About 8.2% (41) of the 500 workers were widows who were also engaged in bangle-making.

Wages

The results of the survey had shown that the women workers belonged to bangle industry get very low wages against working for seven to ten hours per day in difficult and unhealthy environment.

According to the workers there are no set rules or fixed wages for specific processes and the wages vary for the same work in the various and sometimes in the same localities. The wages have been fixed at the rate of per tora which consists upon about 300 bangles.

It was also observed that since there are no rules and regulations followed by the investors or the factory owners so there is no parameter according which wages could be revised after one or two years. On the contrary the prices of essential commodities of life go on increasing rapidly without any let and hindrance. As a result of which their current wages loose their worth and are devalued. The workers are feeling more economic crises everyday.

According to this base-line survey 92.4% bangle workers responded that despite working for the whole day there was no change in their economic status except their survival. About 93% women responded that they could not save money for their future due to high inflation rate and meager wages while only 33 women said they save Rs 100 to 1,000 per month to bear the expenses of marriage of their daughters.

Health

The various processes of bangle-making require long sitting of women workers to sit in one position. Usually they suffer from the problem of back bone, knees and joint pain. Electric fans or desert coolers cannot be used to keep the burner blaze causing more heat and suffocation in the room which is their work place also. The workers are exposed to many dangers including electric shock, chemical effect on hands and face and cuts on fingers by the sharp glasses used to carve designs on the bangles. On account of working in non-ventilated room the fumes of chemicals cause asthma, T.B and other diseases of lungs. The HBWWs have to stare in the flame for many hours during welding of the bangles which causes problems in eyes. The HBWWs mostly suffer from the diseases like Skin problem, Cuts on the hands and feet by the tiny pieces of glasses, Asthma, TB, Diseases of Lungs, General weakness, Injuries in the eyes/eye-sight problems and Pain in back bone and in joints etc, etc.

Laws

There is no specific law to safeguard the rights of informal workers. The investors/ contractors of bangle industry are giving preference to the HBWWs to get rid of the responsibilities/bindings under labor laws.

The Sindh Employees Social Security Institute (SESSI) deals only with the workers of the factories and offices. The officials of SESSI told that the factory owners do not cooperate with them and do not pay their contribution. To avoid the payment the owners of the factories do not get their workers registered with the SESSI. Most of the workers in the factories of bangle-making do not have the Security Cards. The Officials of SESSI told that many cases against the Management of various factories are under process in the Labor Courts for not registering their workers with the Social Security institute.

The SESSI provides medical facilities, pension to the workers and death-grant to the workers family but these facilities are only for the factory workers. They alleged that the politicians are interested in their votes only. They do promises at the time of getting votes but after coming into power they forget everything. About 95 % women workers involved in the bangle-making do not have knowledge of labor laws while the rest know about labor laws and those were the members of the Cooperative.

Child labor

The children do not get any penny because all the family members complete the order collectively. Only five respondents replied that their children get separate wages. The children also work for 6 to 8 hours which is totally violation of the children rights. Majority of the children which are commonly girls work for 6 to 8 hours, work finished with their mothers or elders.

Awareness about Cooperative

About 437 respondents, out of total 500, (87.4) said that they knew about the Cooperative. But only 12.6% women workers are the members of the Cooperative. The members have good image about the cooperative as it helped increase their awareness regarding issues and their rights. They said that the cooperatives have helped improve their confidence and has enabled them to express their view point.

The Home-Based Women Workers were very happy that the cooperative had provided them a platform which plays an important role in organizing themselves. They were very hopeful that the collective efforts rendered by them would certainly bring a positive change in their circumstances, their issues would be solved and they would get their due rights and benefits. Almost 98.8% HBWWs did not get the membership of the Cooperative whereas only 10.2 % women involved in Bangle-making are the members. A few women told that because of the Cooperatives they were able to get their payments from the contractors; otherwise it was a quite hard task.

Suggestions to bring positive changes

Women of the bangle industry are much concerned to bring a healthy change in their life. They do not want to live in a poor condition in which they have been living from years. They want a better future for them and their children. HBWWs have demanded increase in their wages. They also want that some rules should be formulated under which their remuneration should be paid in time. They wanted to be covered under Social Security net work so that they could also avail the health facilities free of cost. The only demand made by the maximum number of the workers is to increase the wages and payment should be in time.

Recommendations

  • Registered HBWWs should be registered as workers, to provide them the benefits of Social Security and EOBI.
  • Trainings of other skills and marketing should be provided to them.
  • Awareness-raising programs should be arranged to improve their conscious.
  • Effort should be made for formulating unions of bangle workers.
  • Government of Pakistan should develop a national Policy in line with ILO C177.
  • Same work same wages for HBWs should be ascertained and ensure its implementation.
  • Wages should be revised after a fixed period in accordance with the inflation rate.
  • Minimize the exploitation of the workers.
  • Punishments for the investor and the contractors should be awarded in case they violate the laws and exploit the workers.
  • Provide Urdu translation of National Policy, C 177 and other concerned laws should be provided to the bangle workers for enabling them to understand these laws easily.
  • Linkage should be developed among the HBWs of one area to those of other areas.
  • Exhibitions should be arranged to promote the products of HBWWs.
  • Data of HBWWs should be collected on the basis of sector and sector gender.
  • The Labor Department should extend their performance to informal workers and include them in their programs.
  • Comprehensive strategy should be evolved to solve the health issues of bangle workers.

Cost of Power Outages to the Economy

By Shahid Javed Burki
Dawn, Monday, 11 May, 2009

THE second annual report of the Beaconhouse Institute of Public Policy offers a menu of options for the policymakers in Islamabad.

Joining me as the authors of the report titled “State of the Economy: Emerging from the Crises” are some of the more experienced policy analysts including Sartaj Aziz, Aisha Ghaus-Pasha, Parvez Hasan, Akmal Hussain, Shahid Kardar and Hafiz Pasha.

Here I will deal with one aspect of the analysis offered in the report. The year 2008 witnessed a major increase in the frequency and intensity of power load shedding or outages generally and in particular in the industrial sector. A manifestation of this problem can be seen in the large number of reports in the press of high incidence of outages and protests, by not only the domestic and commercial, but also industrial consumers.

During the course of the year, complaints by the various chambers of commerce and industry and other industrial associations that the level of production in a number of industries has been reduced due to the persistence of outages which apparently have fundamentally disturbed the normal rhythm of the production cycle in a large number of industrial units, especially in electricity-intensive sectors like textiles, non-metallic mineral products, basic metals, leather products, rubber and plastic products, paper and paper products, etc.

The economic costs of power outages in the industrial sector which accounts for about 28 per cent of total power consumption is having a profoundly negative impact on the economy. The magnitude of cost is a basic indicator of the benefits that could be realised from investment and improved management of the power sector. Major factors contributing to increased power shortages include: growth in demand for electricity, particularly domestic demand fuelled in part by subsidised tariffs; inadequate policy response to the increased demand, reflected in the lack of expansion and upgradation of power plants and the low priority to public sector expenditure on the power sector; lack of improvement/upgradation by the IPPs, partly because of the uncertainty created by the ad hocism in the government’s privatisation policy earlier; overall mismanagement of the power sector, reflected both in the accumulation of over Rs370 billion of circular debt and the heavy line losses and large scale theft; and short-term supply-demand imbalances due to the seasonality, in particular in hydro power generation.

Costs of outages consist of direct costs which primarily comprise the spoilage cost and net value of lost production and indirect costs incurred by firms to recover at least some of the output lost during and immediately after outages. The particular mechanisms chosen for recovering output lost, will, of course, be based on cost minimisation considerations. Typically, types of adjustments made by a firm include: acquiring self-generation capacity; more intensive utilisation of capacity; working overtime; working additional shifts, and; changing shift timings. A pattern of response by industrial units increasingly observed, is that of development of own sources of energy supply through investment in generators.

Some of the key parameters required to estimate the cost of load-shedding for this report have been collected through a survey of a pre-designed and tested questionnaire on a purposive sample, stratified (by city and industry group) of 65 industrial units.

The survey reveals that the average annual hours of outages per unit was 1379 in 2008. The average duration per day was four hours and 36 minutes. The highest incidence of outages in 2008 was between the months of December and January and in June. Industries which have been affected more by outages are textiles, machinery and equipment, food, glass and allied products. Also, continuous-process industries appear to have been less exposed to outages than batch-making industries.

Time losses during the outage plus restart time account for were over 20 per cent of the total time of operation. About 84 per cent of the sample units did make an effort to recover part of the lost production time. The highest proportion, 75 per cent, have done so through self-generation of electricity. Wherever generators have been installed, the extent of substitution has been high, at 85 per cent of the normal power consumption.

Firms which do not have self-generation capacity, either because it is not economically feasible or affordable, have tried to recover some of the lost output through other adjustments identified earlier. However, their level of recovery of lost output is lower, at 29 per cent.

The recovery of lost output is at a higher cost. The average cost of self-generation is almost two and a half times more than the cost of acquiring electricity from power utilities. Therefore, the extra cost to the industrial sector due to self-generation of electricity is about Rs32 billion. This is also an indicator of the extent to which profitability of firms is lower because of load shedding. Also, since such firms recovered about 84 per cent of the output, the cost of output permanently lost is estimated at Rs42 billion.

Firms adjusting through other mechanisms also incur additional costs which include overtime/ shift/changing working days premia to labour, additional wear and tear of machinery and spoilage of raw material/inputs in process. These costs aggregated to Rs6 billion at the national level. For such firms, the cost of value added lost is Rs77 billion. Therefore, aggregate cost to the industrial sector of load-shedding is estimated at Rs157 billion. This is equivalent to nine per cent of the industrial value added. The loss of industrial output is estimated at seven per cent of potential production.

Over and above the direct costs on the industrial sector, a change in value added in the industrial sector has secondary or multiplier effects on the rest of the economy. Adjusting for these forward and backward linkages increases the overall costs of industrial load-shedding to the country by Rs53 billion. Overall, power load-shedding in the industrial sector has cost the country Rs210 billion or over two percent of the GDP, over $1 billion of export earnings and potential displacement of 400,000 workers. Costs could be even higher if impact on other sectors like agriculture and services are allowed for, which account for almost the same share in power consumption as industry.

Following are some of the recommendations we have made to deal with this situation. The high economic cost of unsupplied electricity justifies a case for expanding power generation capacity. In fact, there is a stronger case for upgrading existing power generation facilities, which can be accomplished at almost one-third the cost of new plants. This will require development and quick implementation of an accelerated generation investment programme, which includes the project to import 1000 MW electricity from Iran and a comprehensive programme to reduce technical losses and improve the reliability of the distribution system. Simultaneously, the enabling environment has to be improved so that IPPs investment plans can be encouraged and the problem of circular debt has to be resolved on a priority basis

Such a strategy should focus on a loss-minimising policy. The load-shedding schedule should reflect clear and transparent priorities, in consultation with stakeholders, and be predictable. Sectors that deserve priority, in particular should include export industries. There is a strong case to develop and implement customer outreach programmes to encourage energy conservation measures, steps to improve the power factor, and methods of limiting peak demand. It is also important that alternative sources of energy, in particular solar energy be explored. Pakistan should enhance its capacity to follow international developments on alternative sources and promote greater use of renewable energy for light, heating, agriculture and small-scale enterprise.

Some of the policy recommendations enunciated above can be implemented immediately while others have a medium-term perspective, given the gestation period required for completion/execution of investments. But one thing is clear. This is a crisis that cannot wait for too long to be sorted. The cost to the economy and to the society are very high and their political consequences could be exceptionally grim.

National ID Card Campaign for Home-Based Workers

HomeNet Pakistan in collaboration with Parwarish Welfare Foundation (PWF) Gujranwala and National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) arranged a National Identity Card campaign for the Home-Based Workers of District Gujranwala, in the first quarter of this year. HNP, understanding the needs of HBWs, motivated its district partner to arrange identity card campaigns because the home-based workers will be recognized as workers only if they will have their identity cards.

The ID card campaign was held in three series in the different towns of district Gujranwala. In the first series, the campaign started from January 12, 2010 to January 14, 2010 in Chianwali, UC 119 and from January 26, 2010 to January 28, 2010 in Colony Sadar-ud-Din Khan, UC 119. The total number of beneficiaries in January is 520.

In the second series, the campaign started from February 02, 2010 to February 04, 2010 in UC 119 and from February 11, 2010 to February 13, 2010 in UC 120. The total number of beneficiaries in this series is 439.

The third series of the campaign started on February 24, 2010 to February 26, 2010 in Kasoki Road Kamonki and from March 01, 2010 to March 03, 2010 in UC 120. The total number of beneficiaries in this series is 312.

During this series of campaigns the Home-Based Workers were especially focused. They were told about the importance their ID card. This campaign made them convinced that without their ID cards they cannot even be counted as a citizen of Pakistan and thus they cannot even raise their voice before the government for getting their basic rights. Without their ID cards, they do not even have the right to vote in the elections as well. They were also told that their existence as Home-Based Workers cannot be revealed without getting their National Identity card issued. The Home-Based Workers of the district Gujranwala were made convinced in the campaign how crucial is getting their identity cards issued and that without Identity Cards, it was difficult for them to get their rights and that they cannot even get their social security cards.

During the campaign, NADRA mobile van went town to town and made the procedure of getting identity cards easier for the home-based workers. Parwarsih Welfare foundation arranged various corners awareness raising meetings to sensitize home-based workers about the importance of their identity cards. Mr. Imran Sheikh, incharge of NADRA mobile team fully contributed in making this ID card campaign successful. Before the arrival of NADRA Team, Kiran Atiq, Shahida, Naseem Bibi and Shafiq from PWF made the task of Mobile Team of NADRA easier by telling and convincing HBWs how beneficial can be their ID Cards for them in getting their rights and to be on the way of prosperity. The PWF team went door to door and motivated the HBWs to get I.D cards. Thus most of the HBWs of District Gujranwala got their ID cards issued due to this successful campaign.

During the three months the total ID card of HBWs made were 1271.

Structure Study Report of HomeNet Nepal

Study Framework

A study commissioned by HomeNet Nepal and UNIFEM estimates there are 2.2 million home based workers (HBWs) in Nepal, of which 75 per cent are women. But efforts to advocate for HBWs’ rights have been nominal. HBWs’ contributions have not received any recognition, and the inability of HBWs to be organised has further given little importance to this need.

Nepal is state party to the Millenium Development Goals of which ensuring ‘gender equality and empowering women remains a key goal. The Interim Constitution also states the need to involve 33 per cent women in every development sector. However, discriminations against women remain high. Most Nepali women workers are confined to self-employed, unpaid and low-wage informal sector activities; they have few formal job opportunities. Increasing number of women are joining the expanding modern sector of manufacturing, tourism, trade, commerce in urban areas, and rural women are moving into towns and cities for employment. But most are concentrated in low skill jobs because of lack of education and training opportunities, the biases of their employers and their own limited mobility.

In an attempt to address the challenges faced by HBWs the study is undertaken by HomeNet Nepal and HomeNet South Asia with the objective of understanding the status of different types of organisations currently working with HBWs in Nepal, the organisational and behavioural structure of these organisations, the feasibility of restructuring them into membership based organisations (MBOs) and whether the organisations are interested to become MBOs are the key areas being assessed by this study.

Study Objectives

  • Undertake detailed study of HNN’s member organisations structure and boards of organizations
  • Highlight the functioning of organizations
  • Highlight good governance issues, in relation of HBWs with the organisations such as role of HBWs in decision making process

Methodology

Sample Design and Selection: A total of 20 organisations which HNN has been working with during the last several years were identified for the study. The organisations involve a collection of NGOs, loosely formed groups of HBWs, cooperatives and unions.

Study Tools: Literature Review, questionnaire and observations are the main tools utilised by the study for primary and secondary data collection. Feedback collected from meeting with sample organisations following sharing of report have also been incorporated.

Data Collection: Data collection took place in Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu Municipality; Pokhara Municipality and Hetauda Municipality.

Key Findings

Legitimacy: Majority of organizations (85%) are registered, thereby giving organizations and its members a more recognized status. The legitimate status of some of the organizations has also enabled group members to participate more easily within organizational activities giving recognition to their efforts and contributions, both within the household, the community and society at large. Yet, findings reveal legitimacy does not necessarily lead to more effective organisations. The Executive Committee and the leadership it is able to provide are vital components towards building successful organizations.

Organisational Policy and Plans: Most organisations have come to life based on needs identified by HBWs or community members. Although NGOs, unions, cooperatives and others are undertaking a variety of activities, they lack long term plans and visions. Most organizations are also fairly young and still seeking ways of becoming organized. Organizational plans and policies of majority of NGOs, cooperatives, unions and the loosely formed entities also fail to reflect specific needs of HBWs. There is lack of social benefits, market and visibility of HBWs. Efforts towards advocating HBW needs are also limited due to lack of strategic plans, mission, and ignorance of proposed National Policy.

Most organisations lack information about HBWs. Cooperatives are addressing HBW needs, but only to a certain degree. Structurally one union and cooperatives are the most alike to MBOs. In contrast, with the exception of one NGO working for slum dwellers rights, NGOs are not prioritizing HBW needs.

Governance: The saving and credit groups within the organizations are doing exceedingly well. In some NGOs, Unions, loosely formed entities and cooperatives functioning with support by NGOs, members meet regularly and there is clear transparency in the handling of accounts. This is mainly due to training received by members, the ownership inculcated within the members and also the office space initially provided by NGO which helped the members feel ‘we have a place to go to.

Participatory decision making is a positive aspect of most organizations. Smaller organizations reveal closer linkages between the Executive Committee and the members. Members in organisations with a larger membership are represented at central level through different tiers at ward, VDC, district and finally central level. Decision making in some of the larger groups is made by the Executive Committee and disseminated at the ward level. Democratic processes are being followed in most cases.

Members are benefiting from organizations directly or indirectly. Emergency needs are being addressed through the organizations which provide some funds. But most organisations and their members have not understood the need for social schemes and benefits, and therefore not been able to address it either. Cooperatives are more focused towards ensuring protective measures such as emergency relief fund, financial support during deaths and sickness, etc. A holistic social protection scheme is amiss.

Elections for the Executive Body is part of their organizational culture, but majority use the unanimous process to elect Executive Members. This is prevalent among almost all types of organizations studied, irrespective of whether they are NGOs, Cooperatives, Unions or others. Although such a mechanism can result in effective choices, however those with little voice or those who are discriminated may become undermined.

Inclusiveness: Economic need is the foundation of coming together into an organized group. Social inclusiveness or rather the exclusion, in terms of ethnic background and caste system has not arisen prominently. However, during interactions it has been noted that those from the so called ‘upper caste’ and the educated members are more empowered and vocal. Decision making may be impacted by their status within an organisation.

Nepal is a country with a substantial number of male HBWs. However, most organisations covered by this study have only women members, while others consist of a majority of women. This may be due to purposive sampling, which included organisations with higher women membership.

Good Practices: Findings reveal that cooperatives as well as saving and credit groups organized by organisations and NGOs are providing social and economic benefits to women. Organizations have provided its members an elevated status within the household, and even in the community. Women have become more confident and empowered. Domestic violence is also reportedly reduced. Despite lack of welfare funds in most organizations, there is ongoing effort to support its members in times of needs. Overall, the existence of such organizations is accepted by all organizations as being crucial towards eradicating poverty. However, it must be reiterated that majority of organizations are not HBW focused.

Recommendations

  • Four types of organizations are working for HBW rights directly or indirectly. The Cooperatives and one union are more in the MBO structure, while NGOs with the exception of a very few are donor dependent. Organisations whose legal status is yet to be decided are more inclined towards becoming cooperatives. Study findings based on these organizations conclude HBWs to be an ‘invisible work force in the country. Organizations which are working for HBWs are also not just focusing on them and even development workers and activists are ignorant of HBWs plight. Hence it is strongly recommended that HBWs’ rights, plans and policies are widely disseminated at national, district and community level.
  • Assessment of the governance structure, decision making processes and role of HBWs within these organizations evidence these organizations have not been able to advocate for HBW rights in the country. Promoting the current form of organizations will only prove ineffectual. If HBWs are to be made visible, their rights protected and social protection ensured there is definitive need to move towards the MBO structure. The study urges that identified organizations are provided technical know-how on the advantages and disadvantages of being a MBO, capacity building of organizations, enhancement of management skills, and clarity on who and what the HBWs and MBOs are prior to initiating restructuring processes.
  • The study further recommends that efforts towards bringing about MBO based structures among identified organizations should not be not one-off initiatives. Selected organizations must be consistently supervised, monitored and their capacities regularly enhanced. Short term and long term strategies for mobilizing these organizations must be designed and good practices replicated with appropriate contextualisation. Sustainability must form a basis of in the overall restructuring process.
  • It is strongly recommended that organisations undertake assessment of their own HBW members. Gender disaggregated data on HBW members, individual and organizational challenges they face, their social problems as well as organsational shortcoming in addressing these needs will greatly benefit the HBWs. A strong focus to social inclusion and gender issues is suggested from the very initial process of restructuring organizations towards MBOs.
  • This current study of the organizations highlights that savings and credit brings together the members, and empowers them socially and economically. This should form the core basis of mobilizing organizations towards the MBO structure as it will be a ‘gluing factor.
  • Efforts must be made to ensure that politicization does not overshadow the needs of HBWs. HBWs are a large population who can easily be mobilized and care must be taken to ensure that advocacy efforts are not manipulated to promote vested political interests of certain groups.
  • Although this study focuses on urban and peri-urban organizations, however issues of organizational structure and behavior will be relevant for rural based organizations as well. Future steps must ensure that similar MBOs are initiated in the rural communities, with contextualized needs.
  • HNN is in the process of restructuring itself to become a MBO, and an outcome of undertaking this study is to enable HNN to identify organisations to become its Board Members. However, it is recommended that care is taken during identification as the ramifications of random identification could lead to the HNN losing it own identity. There is need to ensure that prior to identification, organizations have clear understanding of HNN plans and policies.

Jamila: Foundation for Tomorrow

Ms. Jamila Qusar (29) is a resident of village Chack 32, Bahi Peru, Lahore. She has 04 children, including 2 boys and 2 girls. Her husband performs commercial farming on their land and grows crops, vegetables and fodder. Apart from looking after household errands, she assists her husband in managing livestock. She has 04 large productive ruminants, including 3 buffalos and 01 cow. After meeting the household requirement of milk, she was selling the spare milk to a Dhoodi (milk man). Her social and generous nature has made her distinguished and regarded in the village.

Her village population is about 1150 with 141 households. Most of the households have cultivable and productive land i.e. on-average 12 acres per household. The livelihoods of this rural economy mainly hinge on agriculture and associated sectors; however, some of the male members perform skilled and unskilled non-farm labor during off-season. The division of productive work is rationalized among both of the sexes in such a way that women do, apart from reproductive works, subsistence farming, poultry and livestock management; whereas, men carry out large scale farming and other non-farms tasks.

Intervention:

After MEDA Pakistan P&P Project instigation, Haleeb Foods team, which is the key facilitating partner in Sub-sector dairy, visited the village for hunting potential and progressive women as an initial contact person in the village. Considering the provocative nature of Ms. Jamila, Haleeb Team reached her and explained the MEDA Pakistan pro-poor business oriented value chain development model. They also clarified the affects of this model in bringing efficiencies and thereby profits in the dairy/ milk sub-sector. The Haleeb team committed with them that to achieve improved production and better profit margins, they will: a) raise producers awareness about improved livestock management practices; b) create entrepreneurial attitudes and aptitudes among producers; and, c) facilitate linkages with quality input suppliers, business support services and potential markets for their produce.

Outcome:

The orientation from Haleeb Foods captivated Ms. Jamila to form a Village Milk Collection Center and work as VMC Agent. Her clarity on the P&P Project model helped her to motivate other women milk producers to join the group and within first month she had 13 members. Haleeb Foods also build her and the members capacity on improved livestock management practices, provided milk quality testing equipments and feed along-with free medication facilities. This has enabled her to collect around 35 to 40 liters of milk in a day from 13 member women producers for Haleeb Foods. Ms. Jamila is getting Rs. 2 per litter collected and supplied to them and earn around Rs. 2000 to 2500 per month against her services.

She exposed that on average household milk production of member producers has increased by 1 to 2 liters per day along with improvement in the quality of milk depicted from fat contents that increased from 5 g to 8 g per 100 ml.

Results/ Impact:

Ms. Jamila claimed that she and her member producers income have been increased due to increase in quantity and quality of milk produce together with linkages with Haleeb Foods. She affirmed that Haleeb Food is paying milk rate on quality basis i.e. Rs. 35 to even Rs. 48 per litter. This has significantly increased the profit margins of member women producers. She further explained that previously, the producers have no other option except to sell milk to Dhoodi on cheap rates i.e. Rs. 30 per liter, irrespective of the quality. Apart from collecting milk from individual milk producers, Dhoodi provides loan to these producers for purchasing animals, buying animal feed and meeting other domestic household requirements of producers/ households. This loan is subject to the condition that women producer will have to supply entire produce solely to him. Notwithstanding the fact that Dhoodi is providing interest free loan to these associated women producers; however, he is grabbing much more money in-hidden by securing more milk against less price.

Challenges:

While explaining the impediments that are limiting the other women producers to sell their milk to Haleeb Foods, despite knowing that they are notably paying high returns as compare to Dhoodi, Ms. Jamila stressed that linkages of these women producers with MFIs is very crucial aspect for the accomplishment of the MEDA Pakistan–Haleeb Foods model. Notwithstanding her basic information about MFIs she is reluctant to get into the loan matter due to the loan responsibility or/ and hard conditions for the loan offered by MFIs. On the other hand, member women producers are still not interested in completely disconnecting business relation with the Dhoodi, which provides them with instant loans, whenever required and for whatever purpose.

She also highlighted that further development of entrepreneurial skills among women producers might help them in understanding and comparing the competitive options for selling their produce.

Labour Education Foundation

Labor Education Foundation (in Sindh) has been working with informal sector workers especially in the garment; textile, leather and bangle industries home based women workers since long. In the process of work, LEF has conducted a survey, organize numbers of meetings and training sessions in their community to get know about their problems, assess their needs and evolves ways to organized them on one platform for their rights. For that purpose, initially LEF established 7 cooperatives for the home based women workers in community areas to empower them and aware them on their due right and also make them able to negotiate with the investor on their work rates. These cooperative also helped women to eliminate/ lessen the role of contractor and middle men by directly contacted with the factory investor and the market and also to play active role on community issues including discrimination against women in which LEF succeeded to sensitize the investor on worker issues and taking work for home based women workers through cooperatives with fair wages. These cooperative supported women to raise their consciousness level regarding rights and giving them confidence to talk and handle their issues by themselves and enhance their skill, through training programs in cooperatives.

The main objective of our work is to empower HBWW in informal sector through uniting them in organization, advocacy and training. Also link informal sector workers with formal sector labor movements and communities movements to strengthen the power of working people for their economic, social and political rights.

During our work with HBWW, LEF come in contact with thousand of HBWW of different areas and cities especially in Sindh Sanghar, Tando Adam, Moro, Mirpur Khas, Thatha, in Balochistan Hub, Pasni, Gawader and Quetta and in different areas of Punjab who were not aware regarding their issues, even not organized and working in harsh condition on very low wages for their work. During the interaction with these HBWW, LEF felt need to involve these women in their struggle to recognizing them as workers and organized them even make their close contact with other struggling movements through establishing center in their localities and providing them training to enhance their skills and income generation activities. We have formed more then 60 core groups in 12 cities of three provinces. Through these core groups women have contested the local bodies election in Karachi and they have decided to contest the coming election in 5 cities. The core groups in Karachi successfully resist the move of government to demolish the slum localities and save the house of 10000 people.

The main thrust of LEF work is, to aware the HBWW about their rights, leadership and skill based training, through study circles, workshop, seminar and different cultural activities and also advocacy the bangle and garment workers issues with government officials to recognize them as workers and take initiatives to incorporate their workers in the laws.

Introduction and Objectives

Labour Education Foundation (LEF) is a NGO registered under society act. LEF works for empowering labour of formal and informal sector to protect its economic, social and political rights. LEF is closely connected with trade union movement in Pakistan and imparting trainings, helping in formation of union and providing legal help to workers. Our objectives are to

  • To improve the lot of working people by developing a strong and effective Trade Union Movement/li>
  • To help develop and organize trade unions / social outfit/li>s
  • To educate workers for strengthening trade unions through trainings. Workshops and seminars./li>
  • To fight against oppression of women/li>
  • To help in organizing informal sector workers especially the Home Based Women Workers./li>
  • To strengthen anti-nukes and peace movement/li>
  • To promote democratic values and norms/li>
  • To extend legal aid to political, social & labour activists

Donors and Partners

Labour Education Foundation is running numbers of projects independently and as a partner with local and international organizations. We have been working on adult literacy project, peace, democracy and conflict resolution project and on education of industrial workers through study circle with the help of organizations like; Olf Palme International Center (Sweden), International Folk schools (Sweden), IBF (Sweden), Swedish Teachers union (Sweden) and Swedish Food workers Union (Sweden) while we are also running “Empowering home based women workers project as local partner in collaboration with Action aid Pakistan and CIDA, in which we have established seven cooperatives for garments and bangle women workers in Hyderabad and Karachi.

Our Struggles

LEF being a right based organization always at the forefront of struggle for the right of down trodden masses of Pakistan. We have the history of struggle against Huddood Ordinance, separate electorate system and the blasphemy law on one hand and on other hand we are in struggle since our inception in 1997 for the rights of industrial and informal sector workers.

Labour Education Foundation, one of the major trade union based NGOs in Pakistan, has played very important role in organizing the workers on their issue. More then 100 small and large unions from various fields of industries are in close contact with LEF. The LEF is organizing workers struggle with clear objective based on peace, democracy and social justice in society.

MEDA and Haleeb Initiatives for Milk Producers

A Project on Market Access of Women Connected with Live Stock

MEDA Pakistan is working through partnership with national institutions/NGOs in Pakistan to support the economic empowerment of women in three areas of rural Pakistan by helping them access higher value markets. Haleeb entered into partnership with MEDA Pakistan to strengthen women’s business involvement in the fresh milk collection subsector. The project will raise the income of 6,000 homebound women milk producers.

Introduction of the Project

The 70% of the economy of Pakistan is based on agriculture. The backbone of agriculture is live stock. Many people in Pakistan earn from it. Healthy cattle not only produce healthy and nutritious milk, eggs and meat but also provide with the best natural muck for the crop.

The Role of Women

Women in rural areas are directly or indirectly connected with agriculture and look after the animals, for example milking the animals, their cleanliness and different domestic tips for their medication etc. but these women have to face different problems due to lack of awareness about new methods of looking after of animals and improving their production. The death ratio of animals is increasing due to minute carelessness.

Haleeb Foods in collaboration with MEDA and CIDA while working on value chain approach took the initiative of economically empowering 6,000 rural women of district Kasur and Rahim Yar Khan. This is how these women will be able to enhance their income and will be on the way to live a better life. These rural women will be approached through 250 women VMC agents.

Objectives

The objectives of this project are as follows

  • To increase the production of the cattle through better look after
  • To improve the standard of milk
  • To develop the self confidence in women
  • To increase the coordination with support service
  • To provide them with market

Activities going on under this Project

A sub-center for storing milk is formed in coordination with Haleeb and HVCP Mobilization Team, after the selecting the village and only those women workers are selected that are courageous and have the passion to work on their own. Our lady veterinary doctors train these women not only the methods about experimentation on milk but also on the information about better growth of cattle and record keeping training. We get them connected with those markets which can provide them with more profit so that they can play a greater role in sustaining their family. These women are called VMC agents. A farmer help camp is also established and the VMCA group leaders give the tips for the better growth and production of the animals of their respective villages.

These women will not only support and give benefit to their family through this dairy business but will also contribute to the whole economy in future.

Women working in the shadows The informal economy and export processing zones

This publication examines areas of women’s work in the world economy which have been largely ignored by labour market statistics, media headlines and research projects. It provides basic information on the informal economy and export processing zones, in which the vulnerable work of women predominate, and looks at the development of women’s work in the context of globalisation and the prevailing gender order.

According to the latest statistics of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), almost two-thirds of all paid labour in the world work in the informal economy most of them in the developing and newly industrialising countries. Two-thirds of them are considered to be poor. In the 3,500 export processing zones located in 130 countries, women account for 70 to 90% of workers. Elementary labour and women’s rights are violated in these tax and customs enclaves. A current assessment by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on the effectiveness of export processing zones after four decades is shocking: According to the study, they were only successful in developing the local economy in four countries, albeit with numerous incidences of serious violations of labour and women’s rights.

This publication proposes that the ILO Agenda for Decent Work and the recommendations of the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) be used as a strategic orientation framework for a realignment of the economic and gender order. These objectives are spelled out in concrete form in proposals for action by church and women’s groups, trade unions and youth organisations using the example of campaigns relating to the global textile and clothing industry, in which work in the informal economy and export processing zones is commonplace.

The publication is sponsored by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, IG Metall, ver.di and Altner-Combecher Stiftung für Ökologie und Frieden.

Press Conferences and Rallies On World Women’s Day

HomeNet Pakistan celebrated World’s Women Day by arranging press conferences and rallies in collaboration with its network organizations in different districts of Punjab. The purpose of these rallies and press conferences was to high light the importance of the Home-Based workers work and their contribution in the economy and to demand for the implementation National policy for HBWs. Since they are the major contributor in the national economy it becomes imperative that the needs and demands of the HBWs should be addressed by the state. The National Policy for the Home-Based Workers was the topic of these press conferences. The slogan raised was “If women are counted, their work should also be counted. The major components and demands in the National policy were highlighted. It was shared that the Home-Based workers who have a great contribution to keep Pakistan growing, get almost nothing in return not even recognition They are 8.52 million in number but still their voice is unheard. There is no policy for them to protect their rights as workers. The HBWs have to work for long working hours, without any distinction of day and night, in slum areas, in bad conditions, in poor health, without social security and even in gloomy situations but they are not paid what they really deserve. They are even deprived of their labor rights because they are not considered as workers at all.

HomeNet Pakistan arranged press conferences in Rahim Yar Khan, Vehari, Gujranwala, Khanewal, Bahawalpur, Lodhran and Cholistan.

It was said in the conference to do significant measures for the development of Home-Based workers of Cholistan and to form a display centre to market their products on provincial and national level. They demanded from the government to approve National Policy for HBWs. Umer Baloch from Pakistan Youth League said that there are 8.52million HBWs in Pakistan and a large number of HBWs are in the field of carpet weaving, food packing, stitching garments, bangle making and live stock. But most of the HBWs are poor and living a miserable life moreover they are not recognized under any law whereas the factory workers are provided with health facilities, fixed wages and social security as well. The government of Pakistan is not ratifying the convention ILO C177 that secures the rights of the HBWs. The earnest demand of the speakers was the approval of the National Policy for HBWs.

HomeNet Pakistan, in collaboration with Citizen Action Committee (CAC) for Women Rights, arranged a press conference on National Policy for Home-Based workers. It was said that HomeNet Pakistan is working for the welfare of the HBWs. The legislation for the HBWs is the need of the hour. Our goal is to provide the HBWs with social security and get them registered. The speakers demanded for the approval and the implementation of the National Policy for HBWs. They said that home-based workers should also have the rights as the other laborers and the factory workers have.

In Bahawalpur, HomeNet Pakistan in collaboration with Citizen Election Committee Bahawalpur arranged the press conference. Jamshaid Kareem, the speaker, said that the work done by home-based workers does not get recognition. The wages of the HBWs in all parts of the world are very low. They are deprived of the facilities of the health, education for their children and social security. Sometimes they have to bear the rent, electricity bills and the expenses of transportation themselves. Their condition has become worse. The Ministry of Women Development has the draft of the National Policy, it needs to be approved and implemented as soon as possible so that the HBWs may also get labor rights like the other workers and they also can prosper. He demanded for the centers for the HBWs, easy excess to the loans, awareness about their rights, excess to the raw material and social security. The government should ratify ILO C177 so that national policy can be implemented and the work of the HBWs can be counted in the census. He demanded for the HBWs the right for making unions and joining the unions of HBWs, protection against the discriminatory behavior during work, health facilities, health care during pregnancy, reasonable wages, and social security. There should be a data bank for the home-based workers on the district level and there should be proper marketing of the products of HBWs.

In Chishtian, HomeNet Pakistan in collaboration with Sawera Foundation arranged the press conference. Tariq Mahmood Advocate, President Sawera Foundation, Cholistan said that the workplace of the HBWs is not worth living but they have to work there to meet their needs. As these workers belong to the informal sector, there is no legislation for them. Most of them are poor. All the family members work together to complete the task. They, sometimes, work for 12 to 15 hour a day but the middle person pays them very meager wages. He further said that a regular employee in the formal sector is provided with social security and all other facilities, for which the employer is bound to give him/her whereas the home-based workers are exempted from all these facilities. This division needs to be finished. Addressing the press conference, Mr. Zohaib Asif the executive member of “Sawera Foundation said that National and Global Network of HBWs should be set up so that they may promote their products directly and get rid of unfair and unjust dealings of middle person. Bushra Hanif, the member of Sawera Foundation, said that the enforcement of national policy should be ensured. Federal and Provincial Government should ensure effective participation of women parliamentarians in legislation process. The Government knows the issues that HBWs are facing so to eradicate these problems careful and gradual policy is needed so that their exploitation may be eradicated.

In Lodhran, HomeNet Pakistan in collaboration with Mission Foundation arranged press conference. Mubashar Waseem Lodhi demanded for the implementation of the National Policy for the home-based workers. They should have the rights equal to those of workers in formal sector. He said that there are 65 percent women working embroidery, carpet weaving, handicraft, football making, bangle making and carving on wood in the informal sector in Pakistan. These women belong to the poorest class of our country. They are paid very low wages. He demanded for the ratification of ILO C177 including all the facilities that the formal workers enjoy

All these press conferences got a considerable coverage in the newspapers.

HomeNet Pakistan, in collaboration with its network organizations, took out rallies in Multan, Bahawalpur and Gujranwala. The slogan on the banners and the placards for the rally was “If the women are counted, their work should also be counted. A large number of people participated in the rallies that showed union of the people on the cause of home-based workers that they should get their basic rights as workers. During the rallies the participants were raising slogans for the rights of the HBWs. The speakers did speeches on the issues of the HBWs and told the participants about the plight of those working women who are paying a great contribution in the economic growth of the country yet they are not recognized. These invisible women are home-based workers. These women are neither recognized nor blessed with their basic rights they deserve as workers The rallies also got a considerable coverage in the media.

Power, Voice and Rights A Turning Point for Gender Equality in Asia and the Pacific

March 08, 2010
New Delhi, India

Remarks by Helen Clark at the 2010 Asia-Pacific Human Development Report Launch

I am delighted to be with you at this global launch of the 2010 Asia-Pacific Human Development Report here in New Delhi.

At the outset, allow me to thank the Government of India for hosting this event, and for welcoming me and my delegation so warmly to India.

2010 marks twenty years since UNDP first published a Human Development Report.

The human development approach emphasizes that development is about more than increasing GDP per capita, and that it must be shaped by an effort to improve people’s ability to shape their own lives.

This year’s global twentieth anniversary Human Development Report will reflect on how to take the human development approach forward in light of the experience and knowledge gained since 1990. In these past twenty years, the global Report has been reinforced by around 700 regional, national and sub-national reports. India itself has embraced this mode of reporting, including at state and district level. To date 21 Indian states have prepared human development reports, and, with UNDP support, more than eighty districts are now preparing them too. Last year’s National Human Development Report was on urban poverty. UNDP has issued Asia Pacific regional Human Development Reports since 2003. They have stimulated debates, and informed policies on a number of critical development issues. The reports are written by experts from the region, and present a vivid account of the progress of human development in the Asia -Pacific.

The report being launched today, Power, Voice and Rights: A Turning Point for Gender Equality in Asia and the Pacific is very much in this tradition. Its focus on gender with the theme of “Equal rights, equal opportunities: progress for all”, makes this launch on International Women’s Day highly appropriate. As well, right now the Commission on the Status of Women is meeting at the United Nations in New York to monitor progress on reaching the goals of the Beijing Declaration which was issued at the Fourth World Conference on Women. The Declaration called for the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of all humanity.

Around the globe, there has been progress in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. But that progress has been slow and uneven, including in the Asia-Pacific. This region is one of the most diverse and dynamic in the world, and has made impressive progress on many economic and social fronts. Right now it is well placed to recover more quickly from the global economic downturn than other regions.

The report we are launching today provides a compelling case for accelerating the empowerment of women to lock in long term sustainable progress. It sees equality for women as a basic human right, which, if achieved, also contributes to development, stability, and the deepening of democracy. While many women in the Asia-Pacific have benefited from their countries improved education, health, and prosperity, struggle for gender equality continues.

According to the report, almost half the adult women in South Asia are illiterate, more than in any other region in the world. Women in South Asia can expect to live five fewer years than the world average of 70.9 years. Inequalities in the workforce also persist. For example, while agricultural jobs account for more than forty per cent of women’s jobs in East Asia and 65 per cent in South Asia, only seven per cent of the farms in these regions are controlled by women.

I was pleased to see during my weekend visit to Rajisthan the emphasis being put on jobs for women in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Program.

Our report asserts that the under-representation of women in the workforce has significant negative economic consequences. It claims that raising the proportion of women in the workforce to the rates seen in many developed countries would increase annual GDP in a number of countries. The gaps between the political participation of men and of women in the Asia-Pacific are among the largest in the world. The Pacific sub-region alone has four of the world’s six countries with no women legislators at all.

Achieving gender equality promotes human development, and is central to achieving the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals.

Reducing maternal mortality, for instance, will also contribute to efforts to achieve the MDGs for children’s health and education, and for poverty and hunger reduction, on an ongoing basis.

Similarly, providing girls with better and more education can help reduce child mortality; improve child nutrition and health; and enhance overall development progress.

Tackling sexual and gender-based violence not only addresses a basic human right to live free of violence and molestation, but also helps stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Overall, where we see progress towards the MDGs lagging the most is where the needs and status of women and girls are given low priority.

This regional Human Development Report calls on policymakers to correct gender imbalances through a broad “agenda for action across three areas: supporting the economic empowerment of women, promoting women’s political voice, and advancing women’s legal rights.

For example, it suggests that policies giving women and men the same inheritance rights and rights to land title would put more assets in the hands of women. That would significantly improve their ability to make their voices heard inside and outside the home.

Political reforms are also needed so that more women can enter legislatures and other positions of power.

There are many examples in our world of women making major contributions to the national life of their countries. This region has produced a number of women presidents and prime ministers. More women in power at every level will ensure that women’s needs get higher priority than they currently do.

In India, some years ago, 33 per cent of seats in local bodies in rural and urban areas were reserved for women, with some states reserving up to fifty per cent.

A gap in national level political participation between men and women however, persists almost everywhere in the region.

The report suggests the possibility of instituting quotas for women representatives, and also training first-time women leaders to improve the quality of their participation once elected.

I understand that Cabinet in India has recently approved the introduction of a bill which would reserve one third of the seats in parliament and state legislative assemblies for women.

It is also important to enhance access to justice for women in the region. Nearly half the countries in South Asia, and more than sixty per cent of those in the Pacific, have no laws against domestic violence. Discriminatory laws need to be changed, and the laws will need to be enforced.

Changes like those recommended in the report require steadfast political leadership. They also require men and boys to help foster attitudes and take actions which empower women.

On this International Women’s Day, we can reflect on what has worked in advancing progress towards gender equality in this region, and correct what has not. We can determine to make the release of this report today a turning point for gender equality in the Asia-Pacific, and elsewhere too.

By inspiring further debate, and informing the work of practitioners and policymakers as they seek to achieve gender equality, it is UNDP’s hope that this report will make a difference for women. We are available to support national and regional partners to follow up on the report’s recommendations and findings.

It is now my pleasure to declare the Asia-Pacific Human Development Report 2010: Power, Voice and Rights: A Turning Point for Gender Equality in Asia and the Pacific, officially launched.