In South Asia, home-based workers form a vital part of the informal economy. However, they remain unrecognised by governments, policy makers, and, even, the general public. HNSA works to build visibility for economically and socially disadvantaged women home-based workers and to strengthen their collective voice so that it is heard across regional, national, and international platforms. We also advocate for and influence policies, programmes, and legislative frameworks that address the concerns and needs of home-based workers. We work to address issues like social security and protection, violence against women, and country / provincial policies for home-based workers.
Areas of Work
With ‘Strength in Solidarity’ as its guiding principle, HomeNet South Asia pursues an agenda of empowerment for women, home-based workers across South Asia. We ensure that this agenda is responsive, democratic, and representative. These are the key areas we pursue initiatives and programmes in:
Networking and Cross-Country Learning
HomeNet South Asia continues to make strides in building solidarity among home-based workers and their representative organisations in the region. As a regional network, we encourage micro and macro learning initiatives amongst our member organisations. We constantly build and strengthen the links between organisations and ensure exchange of ideas, strategies, and best practices that, in turn, empower women home-based workers and help them improve their lives and livelihoods.
Organising and Capacity Building
Our member-organisations, who work at the grassroot-level, often face difficulties when it comes to optimising their potential and efficiency. They face roadblocks in many spheres - from organising and establishing their organisation to promoting capacities and building leadership. Accessing financial resources remains a key challenge for them. By providing technical expertise and enabling capacity building, HNSA helps its member organisations overcome these challenges, by backing them in the areas of organising home-based workers, building membership-based organisations, and enhancing leadership skills. Our efforts are also directed towards improving governance and organising home-based workers on issues like collective bargaining, gender-based violence, access to basic services, and social security. We actively organise dialogue programmes that result in exposure for our members and create partnerships between stakeholders. Additionally, we engage with our members in the areas of strategy development, resource mobilisation, and networking.
Advocacy and Engagement
Home-based workers are largely seen as working on a hobby or to ‘pass time’ despite being contributors to their nation’s economy, their community, and their families. Their work and contributions go unrecognised largely because they remain invisible and unrecognised as workers. This leaves them without a voice at the societal, political, and economic levels. With the backing of ILO’s Convention 177 on Home Work and national policies for home-based work, we strive towards changing this scenario. We strongly advocate for the identity and recognition of home-based workers as workers, for their voice to be heard and for their rights including social protection.
We engage with local urban bodies to ensure a good governance agenda that includes feasible interventions in urban planning, housing and basic infrastructure. Through our work in these areas, we have been instrumental in bringing women home-based workers out of the shadows and ensuring that they count in State-backed programmes and policies, achieve better recognition in global and domestic supply chains, and are supported during times of crises. The research – that in recent years has focused on topics like the impact of COVID-19, violence in the world of home-based work, climate change, and promoting decent work – has been pioneering in establishing evidence on the challenges faced by women HBWs and outlines solutions - involving a wide array of stakeholders – that will ensure that no woman HBW is left behind.
Statistics and Research
We recognise that a key aspect to ensuring the visibility of home-based workers is by convincing various stakeholders to acknowledge their presence, their contributions, and their issues and concerns. There is also a pressing need to provide feasible and sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by women home-based workers in South Asia. HNSA’s dedicated efforts in the areas of action-based research and statistics have proved to be a powerful tool of advocacy for our member organisations. We also undertake academic research and set agendas with our members. Studies undertaken by HNSA push for the recognition of HBWs in domestic and global supply chains in order to ensure decent work and fair wages.
Market Linkages and Economic Security
Home-based workers find it difficult to attain economic security because of irregular work and low wages or piece rate. On one hand, the self-employed, own-account workers do not have access to market intelligence or competitive markets. On the other hand, home-workers are routinely exploited by middlemen and sub-contractors. HNSA develops programmes that focus on skill building. It also nurtures organising efforts that result in home-based workers voicing their concerns and negotiating better terms for themselves. We also back initiatives that create access to markets, build social enterprises, and promote ethical supply chains.
Social Security and Intervention Portfolio
Home-based workers have poor access to social security benefits especially healthcare, insurance, pensions, maternity benefits and childcare. The lack of social security adversely affects the productivity of home-based workers. Additionally, HBWs usually live in informal settlements that lack basic services like toilets, individual water connections, electricity, paved roads, and drainage. As home is the work place for home-based workers, affordable, adequate and secure housing is of prime concern. While some government programmes exist, they are rarely geared towards the needs of home-based workers. Our programmes facilitate access to housing, social security schemes and also improve their living conditions.