KARACHI, Jan 20 (APP):Sindh Minister for Information and Labour Sindh Saeed Ghani on Monday said Sindh was the first province to have passed the Home-Based Workers Act in 2018, which gave these workers a recognition with social and legal protection like other workers.

He was addressing as chief guest in a two-day inter-provincial exchange of experience by parliamentarians and senior government officials on the economic empowerment of home-based workers (HBWs) in Pakistan, said a statement issued here on Monday.

The event was organized by UN Women Pakistan in collaboration with Labour and Human Resource Department (LHRD) Sindh.

Saeed Ghani said, “we are now working on Rules of Business and looking at finalizing them by mid of March this year. After which the Act will be implemented in the province.”

Out of the estimated 20 million HBWs in Pakistan, 12 million are women and according to UN Women’s Status Report 2016 on Women’s Economic Participation and Empowerment in Pakistan, women account for 65 per cent of the Rs 400 billion that HBWs contribute to Pakistan’s economy.

Provincial Information Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shaukat Yousafzai, Second Secretary of the Royal Norwegian Embassy (RNE) in Pakistan Ingvild Haugland Tokheim, MPA and Chairperson of Gender Mainstreaming Committee Punjab Uzma Kardar, Chairperson Women Parliamentary Caucus KP Maliha Asgher Khan, Deputy Country Representative UN Women Pakistan Aisha Mukhtar, Provincial Secretaries Labour Departments of Sindh, Punjab, KP and Balochistan and senior officials from government departments, UN Women and partner organizations and others participated in the first day of the event.

Ingvild Haugland Tokheim said, “I am glad to see that the home-based workers to whom Norwegian Embassy started to support by partnering with UN Women Pakistan in 2008 have now been recognized as an integral part of Pakistan’s workforce.” Women rights and gender equality are integral to all aspects of Norway’s foreign and development policy. “The fundamental aim of our gender equality efforts is to increase the opportunities available to women and girls, promote their right to self-determination, and further their empowerment.”

Aisha Mukhtar in her remarks appreciated all provinces for efforts around legislation to mainstream and empower HBWs.

Secretary LHRD Sindh Abdul Rasheed Solangi also said the government of Sindh had already recognized the Home-Based Workers in its policy to formalize the informal sector and resolve issues of HBWs.

Punjab’s Secretary LHRD Sara Aslam said, “Home Based Workers Policy of Punjab has been approved in 2015. HBWs Bill has also been passed by the Cabinet and we hope that it will soon be passed by the provincial assembly.

“This piece of legislation recognizes those who work at or from their homes as special category of workers with legal equality in status and rights at par with traditional market-based wage earners,” she remarked.

Director General Labour & Manpower Department Balochistan Saeed Sarparah said that in Balochistan a taskforce has been notified in order to approve the HBWs Policy and ensure its implementation for safeguarding the rights of HBWs. “In this regard, we are holding consultations with parliamentarians and stakeholders on draft Policy and Law,” he said.

Secretary Labour KP Khayyam Hassan Khan informed the audience that Labour Department KP had constituted a committee which had submitted its recommendations to the chief secretary for approval. “Subsequently, a Taskforce was notified by the chief secretary KP to build consensus on HBWs’ draft policy and bill.

This Taskforce will review the draft, consult with all stakeholders, incorporate their suggestions and finalize the draft of HBWs Policy and HBWs Bill by mid of March 2020,” he said.

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