KARACHI - District Action Committee (DAC) of Home Based Workers - Karachi and HomeNet Pakistan have called for urgent implementation of provincial policy related to home based workers (HBWs) and approval of the related law.

Rehana Yasmin, a senior HBW, representing DAC - Karachi accompanied by HomeNet Pakistan’s Umme Laila Azhar, Naheed Syed, Aurat Foundation’s Mehnaz Rehman and Gender Interactive Alliance’s Bindya Rana addressing a press conference also urged the authorities to initiate early registration of home based workers in Karachi and later in other parts of the province.

Rehana Yasmin said after decade of long hard work and struggle, the policy of HBWs has been approved and it was high time that it is implemented in letter and spirit.

“We can link this HBWs empowerment to international commitment but the federal and provincial governments have to immediately approve the HBWs law and allocate appropriate budget for social security,” she emphasized.

Mehnaz Rehman representing Aurat Foundation - Karachi chapter said HBWs must come under the social protection mechanism and the Sindh government should look into the development informal workers and utilize its potential for generating revenue for the province, and fulfill international commitment.

Sindh government was urged to proactively approve and adopt the HBW legislation, which has been finalized and awaiting approval of the parliament.

Umme Laila Zahar said Pakistan has achieved milestone in policy formulation but it was equally important to ensure practical implementation of policy.

“HomeNet Pakistan itself has strengthened HBWs movement in Pakistan and set an example of organizing informal sector, thus we demand policy approval of HBWs and Government of Sindh must initiate pilot projects for socio-economic development of urban-rural HBWs,” said the senior economist cum activist.

Naheed Syed said HBWs are joining the major activities being organized in Karachi and other districts showing their solidarity with women across the globe. This is a sign of empowerment.

Millions of HBWs are awaiting the approval of legislation for HBWs which would give them right of a worker, Tehreem Khatoon, a HBW leader from Korangi Karachi.

Bindiya Rana representing the transgender (TG) community said they stand with HBWs and want the home base work to be introduce in their community so that the (TGs) too may have decent livelihood and become economically empower.

Representative of DAC said that HBWs issue is a labour agenda and they demand the approval and safe passage for the HBWs law and call for immediate action as a large portion of women are workers too.

Activists reiterated that HBWs,pertaining to all categories need social protection, coverage, and government must bring them under social protection framework.

It was emphasized that adequate allocation of budget must be a mandatory provision so as to stream line the process of empowering HBWs comprising mainly women but with also a sizable number of transgender, persons with disabilities and HIV-AIDs carriers.

It was regretted that despite being the significant proportion of the workforce  HBW were denied the basic rights.

Umme Laila Azhar mentioned that International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s Home Work Convention, 1996 (No. 177); the Kathmandu Declaration of 2000; and the South Asian Regional Plan of Action for Home-based Workers, 2007, ask the identification and recognition of home-based workers.

The conventions signed by Pakistan also expect signatory countries to ensure mainstreaming of home-based workers into national and provincial economies, formulation of national and provincial policies for home-based workers, integration of home-based workers into national and regional markets; and sought to raise  visibility, voice and concerns, said Ume Laila, Executive Director HomeNet Pakistan.

Naheed Syed in reply to a question said objectives of the DAC is to raise the issues and challenges of homebased workers with holistic approach and coordinated efforts so as to work as a pressure group for advocacy on policies and laws of HBWs.

DAC member organizations present on the occasion included activists from Aurat Foundation, Women Development Foundation, Hunar Ghar, Rana Liaquat Crafts Center, Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum, Gender Interactive Alliance, Entrepreneurship Community Development Institute, HRCP, National Development Foundation, Bridge  Consultant Organization and Disable Welfare Association.