The majority of homeworkers are women, who take up this form of employment as a way of earning an income to support themselves and their families. Homework is seen as a way of combining the unpaid work of family care, with earning a paid income. While there are positive aspects to home-based work, such as flexible hours which allow women to carry out their home-based work around their family responsibilities, women often turn to home-based work due to lack of necessary qualifications and formal training, absence of childcare support, social and cultural constraints and lack of alternatives. Families need cash income for their survival. Loss of informal employment and reduced returns from agriculture often result in men migrating to urban centers, leaving behind women and children. With home-based work being the only alternative available to the poorest communities, it is not confined only to women but also involves children, particularly girls.

In general, people who find it hard to find employment due to various reasons such as cultural or legal restrictions, discrimination and lack of qualifications wind up doing home-based work. Some men and boys are included in this category. Those with a disability also often choose to work from home due to inaccessible transport systems and work places.

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