NGOs want protection for home-based workers
LAHORE, May 2: Home-based workers must be given protection under the law and the forthcoming national census, to be held in October, should include home-based workers, according to non-governmental organisations Aurat Foundation and HomeNet Pakistan.This was stated in a meeting between the two NGOs and women members of National Assembly and the Punjab Provincial Assembly entitled ‘advocacy meeting with women parliamentarians’ here on Friday.
Ume Laila Azhar, of HomeNet, Pakistan, said: “One of the most crucial things the new assemblies must implement is some form of monitoring system, whereby legislators’ progress can be checked on a regular, perhaps yearly basis, as opposed to only at the end of their five years tenure.”
She said the contributions of home-based workers, more commonly known as housewives, continued to be ignored by the community and that the government must take a more pro-active stance by enacted legislation to protect such workers.
Asad Rehman, of Aurat Foundation, said raising awareness on the issues of equality and rights ought to be the role of the state as opposed to civil society organisations, but where the state had failed to fulfill its responsibility civil society organisations did.
Citing the Indian model of devolving development responsibilities to the district level, particularly in the state of Kerala, he said that the key to progress lay in the hands of the people and that bureaucrats should play a lesser role. In Kerala, he said, development duties had been delegated to home-based workers who held weekly meetings to collect data from their neighbourhoods and set priorities which the local governments were then duty bound to abide by.
Arifa Khalid, an MPA for the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), said: “Legislators rely on NGOs to gather data and advise us on policy. In a country like Pakistan, they can be our think thanks, and we appreciate their efforts.” She said an often over-looked problem was discrimination by women against women of lower socio-economic status and that the key to resolving the issue lay in changing mindsets.
Amna Ulfat, an MPA for the PML-Q, said women legislators from all parties must rise above partisan lines to work diligently towards empowering women.