MOVEMENT BUILDING..... MOVEMENT BUILDING...... AMONG HOMEBASED AND OTHER INFORMAL WORKERS WORLDWIDE: FOCUS ON SOUTHEAST ASIA
Informal Employment in Asia Overview: Informal Employment in Asia formal economyIn the whole of Asia, the share of employment in theformal economy for both men and women tends to be relatively low – for both men and women, informal employment usually provides the majority (65 percent) of non-agricultural employment. In the member countries of Homenet Southeast Asia, the percentages are 78 percent for Indonesia, 72 percent for Philippines, and 51 percent for Thailand. (ILO 2002).
Informal Employment in Asia The informal economy has been growing due to the combined effects of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization which drove out millions of workers from the formal economy. But women have been the mainstay of the informal sector even before the onslaughts of globalization since informal work (e.g., homebased work) is compatible with their reproductive work (child care,domestic chores).
Informal Employment in Asia Women are particularly involved in informal employment (averaging 65 percent of all women in non-agricultural employment), and when agriculture is added in, womens share of informal employment goes way up, since women tend to be very much involved in agricultural work.
Strengthening of Workers Organizations Homeworkers and other workers in the informal economy hope to realize their economic, political, and social rights through the strengthening of their own organizations and networks, the improvement of their working and living conditions, the enjoyment of income and employment security, including social protection, and participation in governance related to homeworkers and informal workers concerns.
Inspiring Strategies from SEWA Among homebased workers in Asia, their organizing herstory/history drew inspiration from the Self- Employed Womens Association (SEWA) in India and its multi-pronged approach to womens empowerment- --- mass mobilization and negotiation along industry lines (particularly in the case of the bidi workers); formation of production and service cooperatives; establishment of a bank where even illiterate women can borrow; provision of insurance and other social protection schemes; and engagement in trade facilitation, international advocacy and networking.
Organizing Women Informal Workers SEWA (India) SEWA's main strategies are: – increasing employment opportunities for women ; – developing women's assets; – capacity-building and leadership development of rural women; – providing food and social security; – becoming self-reliant, economically
Emergence of HOMENET SOUTHEAST ASIA In Southeast Asia, there are national homebased workers networks - HomeNets - in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines They emerged as part of a major subregional project undertaken from 1988 to 1996 by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and funded by DANIDA. Network now includes Laos,Cambodia
Responding to the Changing Global Employment System Homenet SEAs persistent advocacy towards the ratification of ILO Convention on Homework aims to protect millions of homeworkers in terms of their right to organize, non-discrimination in employment and occupation, attention to occupational safety and health, ability to access and receive capacity development training in various aspects, and obtaining other entitlements to be of equal status with workers in other occupations defined as employee.
Homenet Thailand Serves 6,637 homebased producers and homeworkers (5, 031 females and 1,606 males) as well as concerned NGOs active in five regional networks located in the Northeast, the North, the South, Central, and Bangkok.
Homenet Thailand Homenet Thailand has had high visibility in advocating for occupational safety and health, and for the approval of the 30 baht health insurance scheme for all. It has had the most success in focusing on OSH issues through its OSH project for homebased and other informal workers conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Labor and Health
National Network of Informal Workers (PATAMABA) - Philippines PATAMABA is a peoples organization led by grassroots women who sought to empower themselves by founding and running their own organization. Its main strategies are: 1) participation in governance and institution building; 2) human development services; 3) socio-economic assistance; and 4) networking, advocacy and para-legal work.
National Network of Informal Workers (PATAMABA) -Philippines PATAMABA has expanded its membership to more than 16, 295 members in 276 chapters in 12 regions and 34 provinces. It has 2,567 members under subcontracting, 12,069 are self-employed, and 1,524 are both.
National Network of Informal Workers (PATAMABA) - Philippines Networking spans a wide range of different sectors and groups - from informal ones to official policy- makers, formal academic institutions, trade unions and women's organizations. Advocates and lobbies for legislation through Homenet Philippines and MAGCAISA (Magna Carta for the Informal Sector Alliance.)
MWPRI (National Network of Friends of Women Homeworkers) - Indonesia MWPRI has 42 collaborating NGOs serving 19,248 homebased workers (12,609 of whom are subcontracted and 6,639 are self- employed) in 9 provinces. MWPRI has been instrumental in the formation of HWPRI as an independent association of Indonesian women homeworkers.
MWPRI - Indonesia In terms of homeworkers access to social protection benefits, the unsuccessful effort to push for their social security coverage from state funded social security institutions gave way to the development of indigenous social protection schemes such as the social welfare scheme, health scheme, savings loan scheme and the arisan.
CDEA - LAO PDR CDEA Laos affiliated with Homenet Southeast Asia in 2006 and is now engaged in organizing and consolidating homeworkers groups engaged in various product lines into Homenet Laos. CDEA is an organization that also draws together sustainable community and environmental development that acknowledges the co-dependency of people with their environment. One of the objectives of the CDEA is to empower women by creating a strong platform for building income generating activities and social welfare initiatives.
CDEA began undertaking occupational skills development training for women in year 2004, with support from Homenet SEA through Homenet Thailand. Social development is practiced in Laos by giving out loans for education, health, maternity, etc. and organizing savings groups as well as village banks where members can obtain benefits/interests have been highly encouraged.
ARTISANS ASSOCIATION OF CAMBODIA Fair trade group comprised of craft producers and sellers, including landmine and trafficking survivors, people with disabilities, etc. Promotes networking, advocacy, business development, marketing and promotion, design and product development, direct sales assistance
Homenet SEA: Meaningful Successes Towards Achieving Common Goals HomeNet Southeast Asia, now based in Manila, enables the four countries to coordinate their activities particularly in advocacy work at subregional level. Expansion to Cambodia is ongoing.
Regional Networking and Advocacy Channeled through Homenet SEA are common goals -- greater visibility, recognition and participation of homebased workers in the ASEAN context ; access to resources and social protection (including occupational safety and health); and better policies and programs through improved legislation and the ratification of ILO Convention 177 on Home Work.
Meaningful Successes… Homenet SEAs ability to sustain subregional, regional, and global networking despite limited funds, holding three subregional workshops (on sharing mapping results, social protection, fair trade and social marketing), launching a newsmagazine as well as a website, and consolidating expansion work in Laos. Substantial membership increase in all the national Homenets. Acquiring a legal personality and clear mandate to empower the network of homebased workers through the approval and registration of its Constitution and By-Laws.
Meaningful Successes… Enhanced homeworkers and informal workers access to social protection. Advocacy within ASEAN Participation in various regional and intl fora Linking the micro and the macro through fair trade advocacy and practice
Some Challenges Ahead The challenge for Homenet SEA has always been to find ways of continuing and sustaining activities already built up through years of collaboration with main partners. Thus, attaining sustainability remains a lingering challenge among the Homenets, at the institutional and financial levels.
Some Challenges …. Homenet SEA must continue to strengthen and institutionalize itself, in order to serve as an effective mechanism for the various Homenets in the subregion to project themselves, strengthen their international visibility, generate resources, exchange information, coordinate their efforts, motivate and inspire each other.
Women and Labor Movements women have always been under- represented at the leadership level Why are women not more assertive in the trade unions? – women have more responsibility in the family and therefore lack time for union work – society has a negative attitude to such involvement – women workers low self esteem; their belief that unionism is a male turf Time to build the formidable alliance between feminism and labor, by addressing proletarian anti-feminism Time to build the formidable alliance between feminism and labor, by addressing proletarian anti-feminism
Much more needs to be done - Strengthen membership-based organizing - Homeworker-members of Homenet SEA & workers in the informal economy are still very much in need of pivotal support in order to --- improve their productivity and harness their potentials; for better access to resources, technology and social protection; and for responsive policies and laws that will make their working environment conducive to the realization of their rights and simultaneously supportive of social enterprise development.