KARACHI: Representatives of home-based workers from all over the country as well as from India and Nepal will participate in the first convention of the Home-based Women Workers Federation being organised at the Arts Council on Monday.
Speaking at a press conference at Karachi Press Club on Friday, HBWWF General Secretary Zehra Khan said that there were over 20 million home-based workers in the country and over 75 per cent of them (15 million) were women who did not have any rights that were available to workers associated with the formal sector.
She said it was unfortunate that home-based workers were not even legally considered workers as they did not have any proof of their employment with any particular industry. They did not get any benefits — pension, etc — from their employer or any social welfare scheme of the government such as the Social Security, Employees Old Age Benefit Institution, Workers Welfare Board because they could not get registered there, Ms Khan said.
She said that home-based workers had vulnerable working conditions. They had little health facility or social security and got low wages despite working for long hours. She said that her federation was working to get a bill passed through parliament so that home-based workers were first recognised as workers in legal terms and subsequently have better working conditions and benefit from various social welfare schemes.
Ms Khan said that home-based workers were involved in many sectors and trades, a few of the known trades and sectors were bangle industry, cropping work, carpet weaving, zardozi, traditional embroidery work, pottery and sports industry, etc. Referring to their share in the GDP, she said that their share in the garment industry sector only came to over $ 4.5 billion.
She said that representatives of home-based workers from India and Nepal would also be participating in the convention on Monday to share their experiences with their Pakistani counterparts.
However, she criticised the attitude of Pakistani high commission staffers in Dhaka for not issuing visas to the Bangladeshi participants.
Shehla Rizwan, Shamim Begum, Jamila Baji and other HBWWF representatives were also present at the press conference.