ILAPI Colloquium

Back in Manila, results of the Philippine study on community-based initiative featured in the new book were again presented by Dr. Ofreneo in a colloquium on “Workers Portection in the Informal Economy Through Occupational Safety and Health, Social Health Insurance Coverage and Self-Help Schemes in Social Protection” sponsored by the ILO Association of the Philippines at the ILO Conference Room 3 July 2006.

Other speakers included representatives of PhilHealth, Dept. of Labor and Employment, Occupational Safety and Health Center and ILO-SEARCO.

Homenet SEA now WIEGO member

A ten-member contingent representing Homenet Southeast Asia, Homenet Thailand, Homenet Indonesia, and Homenet Thailand crossed continents to participate in the First General Assembly of Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) held in Durban South Africa April 21-23 .
The Assembly approved WIEGO’s new governance structure and Steering Committee, and gave inputs to WIEGO’s five programs: organizing and representation, social protection, research and statistics, urban policies, and global markets.

WIEGO is a network of researchers, activists, and policymakers who are trying to help informal workers on a global scale.It is a network that started out as a collaboration between women activists and informal women workers in India on the one side, and researchers at Harvard University in the U.S. on the other side. It then expanded to include informal workers’ organizations across Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe,North America, and elsewhere.

One important part of WIEGO’s work is to coordinate and work with the Homenet organizations in South East Asia and South Asia. WIEGO also works closely with trade unions, international organizations, universities (including many prestigious universities and research institutes throughout the world), and statistical offices. This last tie – with offices of national statistics – is particularly important because it is always necessary to point out that in most developing countries, the vast majority of workers are informal workers (and not formal sector workers), and that national and international policies must now focus on the needs of informal workers because, in so many countries, informal workers are the workforce. In many countries, it is also the fastest growing part of the workforce.

In all, 100 participants from 32 countries participated in the General Assembly; 38 of the participants were delegates from the 14 member-based organizations , including the various Homenets.. An additional 70 persons participated in the Urban Policies Colloquium called “‘World Class Cities’ and the Urban Informal Economy: Inclusive Planng for the Working Poor” co-organized by WIEGO, StreetNet International and the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu Natal on April 24-25.

During a typical Durban dinner, WIEGO participants feted Ela Bhatt, the out-going and founding chair of WIEGO and founder of the 700,000-strong Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India. Her autobiography entitled “We Are Poor But So Many” was also launched in Durban.

Homenet Southeast Asia Subregional Council members (Rosalinda Pineda Ofreneo, Kanoknart Ngamnetra, Hesti Wijaya, Lourdes Gula, Hesti Wijaya, Primar Jardeleza, and Josephine Parilla) together with other delegates (Sujin Rungsawang and Nunuk Setyaningwati, and Orapin Wimolpusit) took advantage of the opportunity to hold an informal meeting for updating and planning particularly for the subregional workshop on fair trade and marketing to be held in the Philippines in Novemeber.

They also attended the meeting called by Karin Pape of the Global Labour Institute to discuss plans for pushing for ratification of the Convention and/or national policies based on the provisions of the Convention in different countries.

38 participants to the WIEGO conference were delegates from the 14 member-based organizations including the various homenets


SUSTAINABILITY: A Challenge for HOMENET Southeast Asia (2005-2006)

The recently concluded UNIFEM- FNV supported project entitled “Strengthening Home Based Networks in South and Southeast Asia – Phase” has successfully promoted women’s empowerment, as manifested in HBWs’ changes in attitudes, values, personal self-image, and confidence. While this has resulted in a number of notable achievements, the present challenge now is one of sustainability – at the institutional and financial levels, and in terms of a sustainable policy environment.

For Phase 2, UNIFEM will address the ‘sustainability nexus’ utilizing a multi-pronged, rights based approach for the achievement of the goal ‘Ensuring the full realization of human rights of women home-based workers (HBWs) in Asia.’ The project’s successful implementation will yield the following outcomes: existence of sustainable organizations of HBWs and their networks at national and sub-regional levels in South and Southeast Asia; existence of enabling policy environment for women HBWs / informal sector workers in South and Southeast Asia; and improved response from government and private sector on social protection measures and schemes for HBWs.

The increase in institutional and financial sustainability of HBW networks in South and Southeast Asia will be achieved through the following strategies: advocacy and policy dialogue, for stronger implementation of commitments to issues of women HBWs; building sustainable knowledge and action networks, that bring women HBWs, and other actors together to affect policies and programmes affecting HBWs; capacity-building of women HBWs, their networks and relevant key actors to influence the priorities, policies and programmes; disseminating knowledge on emerging issues and innovative solutions with regards to women HBWs, through effective use of new and traditional information and communications; and experimentation on the ‘how to’ of improving the lives and livelihoods of women HBWs, through strategic piloting.

The transition towards formalized, viable, home worker-driven networks with their own capabilities for resource generation, visible and recognized by governing institutions, and strong in their advocacy for policies will be supported by UNIFEM and FNV.

The direct beneficiaries of the project are the home worker members of the various national HomeNets. In Southeast Asia there are over 31,000 of them. Indirect beneficiaries are the families of the home worker members and the communities where HomeNet-initiated projects have had an impact.

Subregional Workshop On Social Protection

Advancing Policy Alternatives

On  25 – 26 October  2005, Homenet Southeast Asia, in cooperation with Homenet Thailand, sponsored a   Subregional Workshop on Social Protection  at the  Asia Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand with support from Ford Foundation and UNIFEM-ESE-Asia.  Joining the workshop were mostly homeworker-members of  Homenets in Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, and Laos. Official and representatives of  international development agencies,  the Thai national government and international NGOs  were invited to grace the workshop’s plenary opening, where Senator Jon Ungpakorn delivered an inspiring message on extension of social security to informal workers.

During this workshop, the research outputs  of the two-country research project entitled “Extending Social Protection to Homeworkers in Thailand and the Philippines: Analyzing, Evaluating and Sustaining the Work in Progress and Drawing Lessons from the Experience ” were  presented.

This undertaking  also served as a forum for sharing social protection experiences by representatives of  HomeNet South Asia,  Homenet Indonesia, and the CDEA in Laos ,  and advancing policy alternatives and plans of action among  participating countries at the national and subregional levels.

Sharing Of Social Protection Experiences

South Asia

Homenets Join 10th AWID Forum

The opportunity for Homenet Southeast Asia  to project itself  has been realized during the AWID Forum on “How Change Happens”.  With Homenet SEA Regional Coordinator Prof. Rosalinda “Inday” Pineda-Ofreneo as the session moderator, the interactive panel presentation on “Social Protection for Homeworkers in Southeast and South Asia”took place on  27 October 2005  at the Singapore Room, Shangri-La Hotel, in Bangkok, Thailand.

The  presentation drew largely from the results of a two-year participatory research project spearheaded by Homenet Southeast Asia and Homenet South Asia. The presentors were:  Dr. Donna Doane, on the comparison between South and Southeast Asian country studies and contexts; Boonsoom  Namsomboon (HomeNet Thailand), on the results of the Thai research study on Social Protection;  PATAMABA (Homenet Philippines) homeworker leaders, with insights on Philippine case studies; Dr. Hesti Wijaya (Homenet Indonesia) on the development of indigenous schemes as the best alternative to not having any means of  protection; and  Ratna  Sudarshan (Homenet South Asia), on the initial results of an on-going study on the social protection needs of home based workers in South Asia.

There were more than thirty  participants from Thailand, Philippines, Africa, Lao P.D.R., Indonesia, United Kingdom and Japan who attended the presentation.

Sharing Of Social Protection Experiences – Thailand

During the Subregional Workshop on Social Protection, Prof. Benja Jirapatpimol presented the results of the Thai research study involving 933 respondents in four regions. A survey, life stories and key informant interviews were utilized to surface risks and vulnerabilities of women homeworkers, their conditions within the household and the family, how they are addressing such risks and their methods of accessing social protection at the village level.

Findings show that the Universal Health Coverage policy and the 30 Baht Health Care Scheme are effective and accessible specially for the poor. The Village Fund is not very beneficial because the amount of loan is rather small and not quite substantial for investment. The Funeral Fund has not been very effective either, and majority are not officially registered except for one (Pre-chao-ta-kaew) which has systematized its collection procedure. Findings on the Credit Union Project show that majority of villagers, except in the southern part, l do not appreciate the importance of savings. Thus, more campaigns to raise awareness about savings are needed to lessen the economic risks of homeworkers.

Surfacing from the research was the reality that homeworkers, particularly those who live in the rural areas more than those in the urban, try to help one another in times of need. The relational ties or bonding among neighbors and relatives in a community is evident in the creation of two schemes that promote the common welfare – the funeral fund and the village fund.

Recommendations revolve around knowledge and skills enhancement of homebased workers and on the strengthening of their networks. Also, intensive campaigns to push for direct involvement of homebased workers in government- supported social protection schemes will be a continuing program. (For more information on the Thai research findings visit the website).