Working from home is profitable too

Updated: Jan 21 2007, 06:36am hrs
Not many know that for a commodity that costs them Rs 100, the home-based worker receives Rs 15 in zardozi and as little as Rs 2.30 in the agarbatti-making industry. That the incense-stick industry contributes $300 million annually to production in India including an export value of $ 56 million is but a fact known well. Clearly, the macro picture often overshadows micro facts like these. Out of the 50 million home-based workers in South Asia, 30 million are based in India.

In fact, in every country, over 65% of the workers are in the informal sector. And if agriculture is included, it will be more than 85%.

In an attempt towards strengthening home-based workers and organisations in South Asia, cabinet secretary B K Chaturvedi formally launched HomeNet South Asia (HNSA) at the end of the three-day Policy Conference on Home-Based Workers (HBW) of South Asia in the Capital today jointly organised by United Nations Development Fund For Women (UNIFEM) and Self Employed Womens Assocation (SEWA).

Unveiling the strategic action plan, South Asia Regional Program Director of UNIFEM Chandni Joshi said: an action based research conducted by HNSA shows that HBWs across the South Asian region share certain sources of vulnerability, but the heterogeneity within the sector is a strong argument in favour of locale-specific approaches. The economic insecurities of HBWs are linked to low earnings, seasonality, stagnant markets, competition from new products/ markets, and also to lack of credit and training support.

The action plan called for including the rights and concerns of home-based workers as priority issues in the upcoming SAARC summit in April 2007, formulating national policies for HBWs, providing them retail platforms and ratifying the ILO Convention 177. It requires countries to adopt, implement and periodically review national policy on homework that promotes equality of treatment between homeworkers and other wage earners.