Activists seek social protection for home-based women workers

KARACHI:Non agricultural home-based women workers in the country have more than doubled from around 680,000 in 2013/2014 to two million in 2017/2018 while their share as contributors to the economy have grown from 21 percent to 28 percent in the same period yet they remain denied of critically needed social security.

Dr. Umme Laila Azhar, an economist and researcher discussing the contribution of women towards fiscal development of the country, in a webinar organized by HomeNet Pakistan, marking International Labour Day, reminded that a huge majority of women in the informal home-based sector are part of the invisible workforce that needed to be recognized by the government .

In her detailed presentation, she said a huge workforce of women in the home-based sector are working in the garment, textile and industry supply chains but goes unrecognized and unaccounted.

“More than 80% of the ready made garment industry consists of small and medium enterprises that are largely informal,” she said adding that SMEs also cater to the needs of the domestic market.

The workers hired for these SMEs were said to be mainly women, engaged directly and mostly on piece rate or daily wage with absolutely no social protection.

This was further cited to be in a scenario where country’s textile manufacturing industry absorbing 40% of the country’s workforce is considered to be the most significant pillar of manufacturing sector and key contributor to the GDP annually.

The activist recommended that record keeping and proper contract with workers doing sub contracted work for the first and second tier of manufacturing companies must be ensured under available guidelines ensuring that these home-based workers are extended safe and decent work and adequate minimum wages.

“It is time to count these women and get them included in the labour workforce,” she reiterated mentioning that due to series of factors more and more women are joining the field and that it was collective responsibility of each and every stakeholder to help them get a decent working environment as well as remuneration.