PROGRAMS, PROJECTS AND ACTIVITIES
Aside from organizing and strengthening homeworkers’ networks at the national and regional level, HomeNet Southeast Asia has been preoccupied with the following areas of work: planning and coordinating, mapping and other forms of research, leadership training, social protection, and policy advocacy. In these endeavors it has been supported by a number of international organizations, including CIDA-SEAGEP, UNIFEM, Ford Foundation, and the Dutch trade union FNV.
To provide an opportunity for Homenet Southeast Asia members to review and plan their activities at the national and regional levels, the Southeast Asia workshop was organized during September 20-21,2000 ,in Bangkok under the auspices of CIDA-SEAGEP. Forty-eight participants and observers put their heads together in charting the path for the national and regional networks in the first years of the new millennium.
To oversee the implementation of the regional and national plans, regional and national coordinators have been designated and are being supported by UNIFEM and FNV.
In July 2003, members of the Asian Regional Coordinating Committee (ARCC) created under the UNIFEM-FNV Project entitled “Strengthening the Network of Homebased Workers in Asia” met at the UNIFEM Regional Office in Bangkok, Thailand, 28-29 July to review and assess the progress made covering the period September 2002 to June 2003, as well as to identify requirements for future actions. (See related story on the ARCC meeting in the section on SUBREGIONAL AND REGIONAL MEETINGS).
Where are the homeworkers? What work do they do? For whom and with whom do they work? What resources do they have? What are their working and living conditions. their problems and needs? These are some of the questions that could be answered through mapping as a research methodology.
Homenet Southeast Asia conducted a mapping workshop on March 15-16 ,2001 with the support of UNIFEM and ILO /EASMAT in Bangkok . There were about fifteen participants at the workshop ,including the delegates from Indonesia ,Thailand and Philippines. The workshop enabled the participants to understand the meaning of home-based work, the forms it takes, and the methods of data collection and analysis. involved in mapping..
Soon after the workshop, HomeNet Thailand, with the support of HomeNet International, launched its mapping exercise in May 2001,after the finalization of the survey form for all their members.The training of the homeworker leaders to collect the information was held in four regions and they completed the data collection at the end of July 2001. (For a summary of this, see HomeNet Thailand website).
HomeNet Indonesia focused its UNIFEM-supported mapping exercise on women homeworkers in the putting out system in Surabaya and Bali. The project, envisioned to form part of its membership expansion efforts in the target research areas, commenced with a planning meeting in September 2001 and ended March 2002 with the finalization of the report. (This report appears in summary form in the HomeNet Indonesia website).
In the Philippines, PATAMABA (with UNIFEM support) commenced their mapping efforts in November 2001, targeting 500 of its homeworker members in four areas: Bulacan, Rizal, Iloilo, and the National Capital Region. In addition to a survey, PATAMABA area leaders conducted focus group discussions with their members and documented best practices. An important component of the mapping project is the built-in training for PATAMABA leaders and staff in computer-based data encoding, processing, and analysis, a step forward in their own empowerment in the area of research. (For a summary of the mapping report, please see the PATAMABA website).
All three HomeNets came together in a subregional workshop in Crown Peak Hotel, Subic, Zambales, Philippines on 19-20 October 2002 to present and learn from the results of all their mapping efforts. (See related article on the subregional workshop on sharing mapping results in section on SUBREGIONAL AND REGIONAL MEETINGS).
The HomeNets in the region have also been involved in a number of other multi-country researches. PATAMABA and HomeNet Indonesia conducted studies on the impact of the Asian financial crisis on selected homeworkers in the garments, food and other affected industries with the support of the World Bank. HomeNet Thailand did a similar project with ILO support, and recently came out with a book on the research. All three national HomeNets were also involved in a recent UNICEF study on subcontracted women and children in various manufacturing industries. In 2002, HomeNet Southeast Asia (Thailand and the Philippines) embarked on a research on social protection for informal workers in the garments industry with the support of the ILO. (See subsequent section on social protection).
HomeNet Southeast Asia, with support from CIDA-SEAGEP, initiated its Leadership
Training Program in 2001 to strengthen the capacity of homeworker leaders in Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia. The Program was designed together by a planning committee in which the three countries were represented The committee agreed on the component modules of the Program, and it was implemented in the three countries from October 2000 to April 2001 .
Each national HomeNet had its own customized modules for the Leadership Training Program, covering the following areas: (1) Economic Empowerment ( business management, product development, marketing , and finance), (2) Social Protection (including social welfare and social insurance), ( 3) Policy Advocacy , and (4) Organizing and Networking.
HomeNet SEA led a CIDA-SEAGEP-supported project on the documentation of social protection schemes in Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.. The project aimed to collect information on existing programs of social welfare, social insurance, and social assistance among workers in the informal economy in the three countries. The project has helped the three national HomeNets to review and compare the existing social protection schemes and enabled them to draw lessons and analyze the gaps in the schemes. The project was completed in book form by the three researcher-writers: Doanoi Srikajorn ( Thailand), Hesti Wijaya (Indonesia) and Lucita Lazo ( Philippines) who also served as the editor.
HomeNet Thailand, in 2001, initiated a pilot social protection scheme in Chiangmai. The homeworkers in the area began their health insurance scheme, with 110 members contributing their own fees.The financial support from UNIFEM for the pilot project was used for administration, as well as for the preparation and training of the leaders. Prior to setting up the scheme, a working group did a feasibility study covering eight private insurance companies and three hospitals.
In the Philippines, PATAMABA has been supporting alternative and indigenous social protection schemes – Paluwagan and Damayan. In Damayan, each member contributes a certain amount when a member dies. In Paluwagan (pooled money), each member pays a certain amount, agreed upon by all the members. The pooled money is then taken alternately by the members, who draw lots to determine the first beneficiary.
In the year 2002, it was the Philippines’ turn to initiate a pilot social protection scheme with UNIFEM support. This would require actions at several levels including technical studies to outline different options for providing social protection to homebased workers; policy support to address the overall policy framework that would affect homebased workers ability to sustain such schemes; and brokering of strategic alliances between homebased workers organizations and cooperatives, government agencies and the private sector including insurance companies and business people.
In the area of research towards policy advocacy, HomeNet Thailand and PATAMABA (HomeNet Philippines) conducted a case study on the garments industry in the two countries, focusing on social protection for workers in the informal economy. The results of the case study were presented in a technical consultative workshop in April 2002 convened by the ILO-STEP, WIEGO, and the World Bank in Chamonix, France. The two Homenet SEA coordinators served as presentors and discussants in the workshop..
HomeNet SEA sees the need for the development of national policies on homework that “promote equality of treatment between homeworkers and other wage earners” in such areas as the right to organize, protection against discrimination, remuneration, occupational safety and health, social security protection, and training. This is mandated by the ILO Convention on Home Work, adopted in 1996 after a coordinated campaign by homebased workers’ networks, but which up to now has been ratified by only two countries – Ireland and Finland. The adoption of this Convention is significant, because it means that ratifying countries will be obligated to convert its provisions into national laws. The Convention would oblige any ratifying member State to “adopt, implement and periodically review a national policy on home work aimed at improving the situation of homeworkers.” The challenge for HomeNet SEA is now on ratification and implementation of the Convention in order to translate the Convention into reality . The advocacy initiatives in the region are focused on developing the national policies in line with the ILO Convention.
In South East Asia, the financial and economic crisis of 1997 has led to growing informalisation since those who have lost employment in the formal sector have moved into informal employment thereby increasing the competition for paid work and scarce resources (i.e. Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia).
As women predominate in the informal sector, the development of appropriate informal sector policies is critical for women’s economic and social empowerment. The development of a strong information base complemented by research studies will serve as the back bone for advocacy and lobbying efforts at all levels for homebased workers to understand their own situation and for the government and the private sector to evolve appropriate policies and programmes. HomeNet SEA is also actively fostering links between relevant research institutions and experts in the region (such as Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing — WIEGO) in the hope of establishing a network of experts or fluid think tank which has as its focus, the researching and monitoring of the impact of global, regional and national economic trends on homebased workers and on women’s economic rights as a complement to the grassroots organizational work. HomeNet SEA Coordinator Rakawin Lee sits on the WIEGO Board, and is active in its Organizing and Representation Committee. Representatives of the three national HomeNets attended the WIEGO Annual Meeting in Ahmedabad, India, in January 2002.