Pakistan's Home-based Workers Build Voice & Visibility

This is one in a series of WIEGO Network impact stories. View all impact stories.

Home-Based worker, Pakistan

 

Through the collective action taken by membership-based organizations (MBOs), home-based workers in Pakistan are finding voice and making local authorities in Pakistan listen.

Fighting Against Mega Infrastructure and for Community Safety

An MBO of home-based workers in Gujranwala (a city in northeast Punjab) was formed by HomeNet Pakistan in an area that is the part of the industrial city, Mor Eminabad. The MBO named itself Kiran Group and comprises around 35 home-based women workers. All are working at their places to earn income for their families. After getting linked with HomeNet Pakistan, these women organized themselves as an MBO and over the years learned the benefits of organizing.

One of the benefits they received was shared by their group leader, Shahida, during the follow up meetings in the following story.When the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) installed its new network of high extension power supply over their houses, the women of the group felt that it would be a threat not only to themselves but to their children who play outside and are mostly out of the homes in open fields. The matter was discussed in the MBO regular monthly meeting. Realizing the consequences of high density power supply crossing their community, which is not properly constructed according to urban planning, they felt the need to take up the matter. They all joined together and took the other women of the area along with them and visited the WAPDA office in Gujranwala. They discussed the issue with the local WAPDA officer and explained their concerns for the safety of their homes and children.

The relevant officer, realizing the need, agreed but warned them that if changing the installation meant the whole area would have to bear a power breakdown for at least 3-4 days, which would be unbearable for the community in summer season.

The women home-based workers discussed this issue among themselves and then assured the WAPDA officer that their commitment was strong, and they would bear the summer heat with no electricity for three days rather than live under the threat of harm to their children’s lives. The dialogue with WAPDA bore fruitful results as WAPDA changed its installation plan and shifted the high extension power supply wires form that location to another open place.

Fighting for Basic Infrastructure: SUI Gas Installation

Razia was one of the members of the MBO in Gujranwala. She shared her own experience that after learning the benefits of organizing, she had formed a group in Bhakkar Mandi. During an election campaign, the local candidate for the Punjab Assembly from Pakistan Muslim League (N) visited the area and urged the constituents to vote for the party. The women members in Razia’s group had already met, decided on and prioritized the issues that they wanted addressed. On the basis of this, the home-based workers collectively negotiated with the candidate of from PML(N) for installation of sui (natural) gas in their area. They openly informed the candidate that unless the community got the gas connection, it would not vote. The candidate noted their demand and within days new gas supply lines were installed in the area. He visited the community after the installation of pipelines and promised the women that as soon as the Party PML-N would come in government the gas supply would start. After this commitment, women home-based workers agreed to vote for PML(N).

This is one in a series of WIEGO Network impact stories. View all impact stories.