Representatives from the various Homenets in Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand) met in Bangkok May 10-11 at the UNIFEM Regional Office in order to evaluate work in connection with the FNV-supported project “Strengthening the Network of Homeworker” which ends this year, to imagine the future in the next five years, and plot out the next steps.
Lucita S. Lazo, Regional Program Adviser for UNIFEM ESE-Asia led the evaluation meeting, assisted by UNIFEM Program Officer Amalin Sundaravej, and by Ana Lisa Magno who acted as documentor. Participants included Hesti Wijaya, Cecilia Susiloretno, and Judarman Soedarmo from Homenet Indonesia; Rosalinda Pineda Ofreneo, Primar Jardeleza and Calixtra Patacsil from Homenet Philippines; and Rakawin Lee, Phan Wanabriboon, Orapin Vimol Pusit, and Sutaree Seng-Ging from Homenet Thailand.
Part of the main agenda was the review of the outcomes at both subregional and national levels of the project’s objectives:
- Strengthening home-based workers, their organizations and networks in Southeast Asia;
- Support for the development of policy frameworks and advocacy on key issues affecting homebased workers;
- Support for pilot approaches for the provision of social protection for homebased workers; and
- Promoting fair trade practices at the national level to ensure more favorable working conditions for women homebased workers.
It was acknowledged that although there were external constraints such as the lingering effects of the Asian crisis, the frequent changes in political leadership, the outbreak of SARs etc, as well as internal constraints such as delayed and inadequate funding and reliance on a few key leaders, there have been positive achievements in the last three years.
Homenet Southeast Asia has sustained subregional, regional, and global networking despite limited funds, holding subregional workshops, launching a news-magazine as well as a website, and commencing expansion work in Laos. Membership in all the national Homenets has increased substantially, and in the Philippine case, this has expanded to other workers in the informal economy. Numerous capability building activities for homeworkers in the areas of leadership, entrepreneurship development, occupational safety and health, computer connectivity, etc. have been conducted in the three countries. There have been increasing visibility and recognition through the mapping project in Indonesia, policy and implementation advances in terms of health insurance and occupational safety and health in Thailand; and progress in terms of informal workers’ representation, access to resources, social protection coverage, and local government initiatives in the Philippine case.
Three goals for next five years
Through a series of discussions, participants agreed on three major goals for the next five years.
Under the first major goal of “Strengthening the organization and the network of women homeworkers in Southeast Asia”, the following sub-goals were identified:
- Homeworkers will have their own organizations using bottom-up approach and thus empowering themselves (NGOs will play advisory capacity);
- They will have the capacity to run their own organization (including resource mobilization); and
- They will be able to represent themselves both at national and the international levels
The second major goal is “Economic security and rights – Building the economic sustainability of the homeworkers and their networks” Its sub- goals are:
- Employment promotion;
- Market access and development;
- Promotion of decent work;
- Fair price;
- Occupational safety and health and clean technology ;
- Gender respon-sive mainstreaming as well as application of rights based approach; and
- Right to social protection
Under the third major goal of “Political Rights, Governance and Participation”, participants men-tioned the following subgoals:
- Visibility for home worker;
- Representation; and
- Influence on macro economic policies (national and international)
Next Steps for 2005-2006
Within the next two years, participants agreed that subregional initiatives will include: document-ation (i.e., sharing of best practices, tools, manuals, resources); knowledge building; cross border issues; capacity building on lobbying, advocacy, and networking; website management; exchange visits, developing e-commerce; a sub regional workshop on social protection; and strategic planning for marketing and distribution of homeworkers’ products.
There were plans to set up more formal policies, procedures, mechanisms to guide the operations of the subregional network. These would include formalizing membership to the network; clarifying decision-making and representation issues; and systematizing activities with annual plan-ning/assessments and dialogues. Crucial to the process would be the holding of annual coor-dination meetings with homeworker representation, including bi/triennial assembly with ten homeworker delegates per country and some NGO represen-tatives , possibly commencing in 2006.
Another issue to be tackled is the envisioned formation of Homenet Asia, with Homenet Southeast Asia and Homenet South Asia as its major wings.