HomeNet Pakistan Commemorates Home-Based Workers Day

During a strategic visioning workshop of HomeNet South Asia in 2010, participants celebrated 10 years since the passing of the Kathmandu Declaration on October 20, 2000. There and then, October 20th had been declared “Home-based Workers Day” for South Asia. HomeNet Pakistan (HNP) has been observing the day ever since, determined to form laws and legislation to strengthen the informal sector in general, and for home-based workers in particular.

In 2012, HNP observed the day with various stakeholders, civil society organizations and the media to raise the voice of home-based workers and advocate for their rights, facilitating a number of nationwide activities. HNP published and distributed brochures in English and Urdu, included updates and information on their website, and facilitated various meetings, seminars and other activities throughout Pakistan. They also used mobile technology to advocate, sending over 100,000 SMS messages to civil society organizations, parliamentarians, lawyers, trade unions, labour leaders, government officials, political leaders, home-based workers and membership-based organizations, educators and the media – a very effective and innovative strategy!

A few of the SMS Messages sent out by HNP:

“Home Based workers demand speedy approval of home-based workers policy in Pakistan.”

“Government should recognize home based workers as ‘workers.’”

“Access to the Social Protection is the right of Home Based workers.”

In addition, HNP held two press conferences: the first at Lahore Press Club on 17 October and the second at Jhang Press Club on 20 October. Key objectives of the conferences were to raise the concerns of home-based workers – including policy formulation, recognition in labour laws and national statistics, skills development opportunities, access to credit schemes and markets, social protection and livelihood security –and to emphasize the official observance of Home-based Workers Day by the government. Also raised was a ban on kite-flying and kite-making.

While HNP fully supported the government ban on Dor, razor-sharp kite string, which has caused many deaths and injuries, they assert that it is also important to consider the thousands of women home-based workers who made kites, and who have thus become jobless and now need to be given some alternative skills and provided with work to earn a livelihood. The press conferences were attended by current and former government officials, senior representatives of NGOs and civil society organizations, and the media.

Two Press Forums were also held with the leading National Urdu newspapers on 18 and 31 October. Key issues discussed included policy formulation, decent livelihood and the adverse affects of the kitemaking ban on home-based workers. The forums were attended by HNP staff, home-based workers and other partner organizations. In addition, a number of articles in leading national newspapers and magazines featured home-based workers. Two radio events – a discussion and radio play – featured the concerns of home-based workers and advocated for their voice and rights. The discussion was attended by HNP and other civil society organizations; the play, written by HNP Senior Program Officer M. Javed Pasha, covered issues of education and well-being of women and girls. For more details and information, please read the full report.