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Research and Insights

HNSA is implementing the European Union’s co-funded “Hidden Homeworkers” project across India, Nepal and Pakistan. Within this project, wage cards were developed and distributed by HNSA grassroots project partners to assist home-based workers in habitually recording the nature of their work, the number of orders they receive, piece rate wage, details of work provider/contractors, etc. This report captures the details of the wage card study, which was conducted across all four regions of South Asia.

The Eastern Himalayas straddle three South Asian nations, Nepal, India, and Bhutan, which also happen to be the main producers of large cardamom, a specialty spice that enjoys wide appeal across South Asia and the Middle East.

For SEWA Ruaab the pandemic provided a unique scenario – a chance to reinvent, breathe life into a struggling enterprise. Founded in 2010, Ruaab is rooted in the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). It started off in these very lanes of Ashok Nagar and other settlements in New Delhi. Initially looking to collectivise women so that they could access markets and source work from domestic and international brands. However, a few years later, the orders began to dry up and the enterprise despite its best efforts started to slow down.

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How A Grassroot-Level Organiser, In Ahmedabad, India, Gave Up Her Daily Wages In Order To Organise Her Community And Link Them To Basic Services. Ramilaben lives in a crowded settlement of over 300 houses in Ashapurinagar that’s part of the larger Amraivadi locality in Ahmedabad, India. She has lived here for over 20 years and for much of it has worked as a home-based worker. From her compact house, Ramilaben tailors blouses, kurtas and other women’s apparel for the customers in her community and beyond. However, in the recent past, Ramilaben’s reputation has gone beyond her work.

How A Newly-Confident Grassroot-Level Organiser Helped Hundreds Of Women Access Work During The First Wave Of The Pandemic. “I wouldn’t even have the courage to speak,” Noorbanu says, recalling her struggle to use her voice. But that changed when she participated in a three-day in organising training – held in February, 2020 - by SEWA Academy in partnership with HomeNet South Asia.

During the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis, that became a reality soon after the training, Noorbanu took charge of her community. For over 20 years, the home-based worker tailor has called the busy settlement of Vatva, in Ahmedabad, Gujarat (India), her home. For the past two years, Noorbanu has also been involved in SEWA’s organising initiatives in the area. However, it was during the pandemic that Noorbanu used her voice and skills to bring relief to her community.

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“We are struggling for our basic meals and are under a lot of stress.”These words by Shabnam Shaikh, a home-based garment worker from India’s Ahmedabad, resonate with the lived experience of over 61 million invisible home-based workers from across South Asia. Since the beginning of 2020, when the novel coronavirus started to grab headlines across the globe, home-based workers have had to face monumental struggles to simply ensure survival.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the country went into lockdown on 24th March, resulting in a widespread humanitarian crisis for the many informal workers stranded without work or shelter, for many of the workers relied on a daily wage.

New Delhi – India’s capital – is battling a particularly rough 2020. In February, 2020, riots broke out in large parts of the city. And just while the capital was limping back to normalcy, COVID-19 followed. At the time of publishing, Delhi is one of the worst-affected by the pandemic, in India.

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Between 2011-12 and 2017-18, the number of home-based workers decreased significantly. The drop was greater than the drop in India’s total employment and was largely due to the significant decrease in the employment of women in home-based agricultural work.

The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted global garment supply chains causing brands and retailers to close shops and cancel orders from sourcing factories. This has resulted in mass layoffs and has had a devastating effect on the livelihoods of homeworkers – who form the lowest tiers of supply chains.

The spread of COVID-19 across South Asia has resulted in the large-scale shutdown of business operations. While almost all industries have been adversely affected, the garment industry is one of the worst-hit. This has left export houses and domestic manufacturers without work orders and with no guarantee of future work. However, with the onset of the disease, the demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline workers has seen an increase. And many garment manufacturers have looked to capitalise on this opportunity.

The Second Draft Code on Social Security (2018) Vs The Third Draft Code on Social Security (2019) - A Comparison From the Perspective of Unorganised Sector Workers.

The terms ‘invisible’ or ‘hidden’ are often used when referring to women homeworkers in garment and footwear supply chains. Their work is often undervalued and remains unseen by the retailers and brands they produce for. Because of the hidden nature of their work, they are vulnerable. And face issues like, unfair pay, irregular work, poor working conditions, lack of worker rights, human rights abuse, violence and harassment by contractors, and occupational health and safety risks.

This year, the Australian Open brought cheer to India’s leading garment hub – Tiruppur. The Hindu, a national daily, reported that ball boys and girls along with courtside statisticians, at the tournament, donned clothes especially tailored in Tiruppur. And these were no ordinary uniforms either. A local export house – NC John & Sons – crafted around 25,000 garments using close to 200,000 PET bottles. This is a massive conservation effort at a time when the global garment industry has come under increasing scrutiny for the damage it causes the environment.

This report is the outcome of a study titled ‘Impact of Demonetization on Home-based Workers of Jaipur and Mumbai’ commissioned by WIEGO in  February  2017. It is part of a larger study,  which started with the  objective  of examining  the impacts of demonetization on the work and lives of  different sections of the urban poor in India’s informal economy.

India’s growth story is a paradox. While India has seen impressive growth in its Gross Domestic Product and per capita income, these gains have not been evenly distributed.

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How A Social Enterprise In Udaipur Organises And Links Home-Based Workers To Global Supply Chains It was a quiet day, when we arrived, in Kamli Ka Guda. The expansive highways that stretch out of Udaipur give way to the less-travelled road that leads to Delwara. Once a dukedom of the princely state of Mewar, Delwara is, today, a popular temple town. Much of its hustle bustle is centred around a famous Shiv temple that draws in devotees from around Rajasthan and around the country.

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A day in the life of Maya - “I can just about feed my family, why do I need a policy for home-based workers?” laments Maya, a home-based worker. Maya, lives with her husband, a daily wage labourer, a father-in-law who is bed-ridden and three children in one of the suburban slums in the sprawling capital of India, New Delhi. Her life reflects none of the glitter or power of the city. She wakes up before sunrise and starts her domestic chores of fetching water, cooking, cleaning, and getting her children ready for school.

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The Homebased Workers Policy workshop was held on 7th and 8th March 2017, at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi and attended by participants at Annexe 1. The agenda is at Annexe 2.

Earlier this year, during a two-day workshop, we invited various civil society organisations, the ILO, NGOs, and academics to share their recommendations and ideas on the initial draft of the National Policy for home-based workers in India. In the months following the workshop, we have extensively reviewed the draft and have incorporated many of the suggestions put forth by all of you. We are happy to inform you that a new draft is ready and you can access it here. We invite you all experts, practitioners, students and citizens to go through the prepared draft and share your thoughts on it on or before January 30, 2018.

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Visit to one of the slum areas in Ahmedabad was undertaken with the purpose of getting better understanding of the work related to surgical devices that was given to HBWs. On exploring the area and interacting with the residents, it came to light that HBWs of the area were primarily into assembling of surgical devices such as chamber used in Syringe and regulator in drip syringe.

We, the members of 60 networks, associations and trade unions of home-based workers, together with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and researchers from 24 countries, met in New Delhi on the 8th and 9th of February 2015 at the Global Conference of Home-based Workers.

Resources

Home-based workers produce goods or services for the market from within or around their own homes. In developed, developing and under-developed economies, they produce a wide range of low-and high-end goods and services for domestic and global markets.

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The Government of India is committed to inclusive growth, where the benefits of development also reach the last person in the remotest village or most inaccessible informal urban habitation of India.

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