16000 female home workers of hand stitched soccer balls rendered jobless


SIALKOT: In Sialkot, as many as 16000 female home based workers, related to the hand stitched soccer balls, have been rendered jobless due to growing trend of manufacturing the footballs from machine-stitching due to which these jobless workers and their families have been suffering from great financial crisis. They are the only to feed their families to earn a low income by stitching the footballs at their homes in and around the city. They have no scope to be inducted in the production of manufacturing the soccer balls through the machine-stitching in city here.

The consultants, speakers and the stakeholders disclosed this while addressing the participants of an orientation Session on Integrated Support to HBWs in district held at the auditorium of Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), mutually organized by International labour Organization (ILO) and local NGO “Baidarie” here on Tuesday. Ms. Sajila Khan the Gender Advisor International Labour Organization-ILO Islamabad, Karachi based consultant Naveed Hussain, Khawaja Zaka Ud Din one of the pioneers of Sialkot’s soccer balls industry, Acting President of Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) Mian Muhammad Anwar and Arshad Mehmood Mirza the Executive Director NGO Baidarie were present on this occasion.

The consultants pointed out that the above-mentioned 16000 jobless female home based workers were willing to indulge themselves into other jobs or to run their own small businesses but they could not do it because of having no skills and no capacity of doing other jobs rather than stitching the footballs with their hands and they have also been suffering from serious health hazards. They stressed upon the need of making some effective and urgent joint efforts for the skill development, capacity building and access to the local job markets for these women workers (HBWs) in Sialkot and all the stakeholders should come forward to proceed towards this goal on harmonious grounds.

Karachi based consultant Naveed Hussain said that ILO and GO Baidarie have jointly conducted a study on the problems of home based Women Workers (HBWs) in Sialkot, saying that according to this study report, these jobless HBWs only know a single skill of stitching the footballs with hands at their homes and now the manufacturing machine-stitched footballs was on peak in soccer balls manufacturing and exporting factories in Sialkot. They do not have the knowledge of their rights.

Ms. Sajila Khan the Gender Advisor International Labour Organization-ILO Islamabad, on this occasion said that ILO would ensure the maximum empowerment of the HBWs in Sialkot through ensuring the early training of some other skills for their capacity building, enabling the HBWs to start their small businesses, besides ensure the early provision of safe and secure working environment in the local work places.

She also stressed the need of establishment of the strong linkages between the HMWs and the job providers in Sialkot, globally known for producing the world class sports gears. She said that International Labour Organization (ILO) would provide all the technical and financial assistance to the HBWs in Sialkot.

All the stakeholders were astonished to tell that no department has the actual record and data of the Home Based Women Workers (HBW) in Sialkot district, amazingly.

The House was told that the ILO and NGO Baidarie-Sialkot have started training of advanced skilled and capacity building of as many as 100 selected jobless female home based workers in Sialkot’s three village Roras, Mehadpur and Korowal, besides, establishing a stitching-cum-production center at village Roras-Sambrial.

They also stressed upon the need of early policy making and legislation for the welfare of the house based workers, urging the government to ensure the capacity building of the home based workers (HBWs), provision of better working opportunities to them, their training regarding the advanced technologies, home based workers’ access to the markets and equality in their salaries as per the salaries of their male colleagues at local level.

Addressing the participants, Prof. Arshad Mirza demanded that amendments should be introduced in the Social Security Ordinance to provide similar facilities of Social Security to the workers in informal sector as are being given to the workers in the formal sector of economy. Special mechanism should also be developed to ensure that the Home Based Workers also get legal minimum wage.

On this occasion, Khawaja Zaka Ud Din one of the pioneers of soccer ball industry of Sialkot called upon the Civil Society Organization working for the rights of the Home-Based Workers (HBWs) to join hands and forge unity among them for raising collective voice to attract collective actions for empowerment of the social and economic of the workers whose voice is not heard most of the times.

Acting President of Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) Mian Muhammad Anwar suggested that there is an urgent need to develop a comprehensive system for registration of all the Home-Based Workers at district, provincial and national level bringing into existence accurate and authentic database of the Home Based Workers whose numbers are rampantly increasing.

He added that if training on alternate income generating skills is provided, resources are provided for development of entrepreneurship and linkages needed for access to market are provided the knowledge about all of these resources is built in home based women workers, the lot of these workers can tangibly be improved.

The House declared that the Home-Based Workers (HBWs) are the asset of the country as this is the only segment that has provided big support to the retreating economy of the country.

The stakeholders also urged the government to play its role in assuring the wellbeing of the vulnerable workforce of Home Based Workers by taking up integrated and comprehensive measures.

The consultation concluded that the Home-Based Workers should organize themselves in groups to get the benefits of the Social security, saying that it was essential that somebody be responsible to pay their contribution by laws.

They also stressed upon the need for creating awareness among the Home-Based Workers about the interaction with the factories.

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