LAHORE: The district governments could play a very important role for the promotion of women home-based workers at grassroots levels which are from the informal sector of economy and lack some of the most basic facilities of life. This was highlighted during a day long ‘provincial consultation on local governance issues of home-based workers’ arranged by HomeNet Pakistan under the auspices of Oxfam and UN Women here Tuesday. Local bodies could greatly benefit the women workers, who need facilitation such as access to markets,transportation for their goods, skill trainings, along with health, sanitation facilities for themselves and education for their young ones. “We want empowered local governments that could truly facilitate the grassroots workers, especially the skilled women who work from homes”, said Begum Mahnaz Rafi, social activist and politician, who commended support by these workers for their families and contribution to the economy. These local governments must have funds according to demographic needs of the districts, she added. In truly democratic countries the need of local governance has been realised fully and translated into reality, she elborated, adding, “We must have reliable complete statistics quite from the UC levels which also reflect the skilled workers functioning in the informal sector of the economy.
Sources from the host organisation informed that a national policy draft for homebased workers has already been presented to the Punjab government and the dialogue was ongoing. Another proposal that calls for allocating space for home based women workers in Sunday bazars in the towns of Lahore has also been presented to the Punjab government, it was learnt.
According to a survey by HomeNet,Pakistan has a very large informal sector in which 20 percent growth was recorded in 2007. According to conservative estimates out of $ 160 billion size of country’s econom,$ 32 billion plus is in the informal sector”. A number of community based district coordinators, women workers, along with representatives of labour and social welfare departments were present on the occasion and came up with various suggestions to improve their income generating activities. Some women workers from Lahore while talking to this scribe regretted that middleman, in their case middle women, get lucrative returns as they have direct access to markets which they do not have. The situation in the small towns is even worse,they regretted.