Inclusive policies for home-based workers, gender equality stressed

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LAHORE: “Women entrepreneurship is the way to economic success. Home-based workers (HBWs) are the key to the economic growth but they go unrecognised”. This was the conclusion at a roundtable conference held at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Monday.

HomeNet Pakistan in collaboration with LCCI organised the roundtable conference in which stakeholders shared findings of “gendered market survey for strategy and development and gender power analysis” conducted in Lahore and Karachi.

SMEDA Chairman Rehmat ul Javed said that the LCCI is already cognizant of women empowerment. There are prospects of establishing business centres in Lahore to provide facilitation for startups under one roof. “LCCI should support in finalising a holistic framework to market the products of home-based workers and to strengthen them. This would support women in having direct access to the market,” he said. He added that the findings of the survey would provide an insight into further enhancing the plan.

LCCI Director Research and Development Nadia Tahir said that HBWs have majority contributors in the informal sector. And it is important to include the informal sector in the planning of economic growth. In developing countries like Pakistan, women suffer major hurdles and obstacles due to their gender. “Women are getting lower wages as compared to men with a ratio of 60 to 40. When it comes to informal workers, the exploitation is even higher than it is seen in the formal sector,” she said.

HomeNet Pakistan representative Ume Laila Azhar said, “It is important to have a gender analysis and gendered market survey for ensuring women inclusiveness in economic development by leveraging their role as independent entrepreneurs within the supply chains.” The particular initiative, she said would enable the organisation to have a holistic picture of the market economy and positioning of the home-based workers in the regime of contract workers as a piece rate and low-level own account workers. Based on the analysis and the proposed devised strategy; HomeNet Pakistan would be able to improvise its marketing, enterprise development, and business strategies.

The findings of the gender power analysis and gender market survey strategy for women home-based workers would also be able to  provide an insight to support the provincial governments of Sindh and Punjab to develop provincial business development programmes for HBWs of Sindh and Punjab and enabling them in the home-based sector to adopt diversified roles as business entities; promote an enabling environment by creating opportunities for women to uplift their social conditions and positions within their households, communities, and markets.

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