SIALKOT: In Sialkot, as many as 4000 jobless home based women workers out of total 16000, most of them the hand stitchers of the footballs, have been adjusted in the other jobs through their micro entrepreneurship development, while another batch of 2000 more such female stitchers would also be adjusted in their new jobs within a stipulated period of a next year.
In Sialkot, the soccer balls industry’s as many as 16000 female stitchers, indulged in the hand stitching of the footballs, had been rendered jobless due to the change of the trend of the foot balls’ production from hand stitching to the machine stitching about four years ago.
Sialkot based soccer balls manufacturers and exporter Prof. Safdar sandal, Khalid Mehmood, Muhammad Iqbal, Ghulam Husain and other said that hand-stitched inflatable soccer balls had historically been the Sialkot’s major product. In recent years the mechanization of the manufacturing process of inflatable balls had drastically reduced the demand for hand-stitched balls.
As a result, more and more international buyers were demanding machine-stitched inflatable balls rendering hundreds of thousands of home-based-soccer ball stitchers jobless, they added.
These female workers, rendered jobless, were the only source of income of their families and after becoming jobless it had become very hard for them to feed their families as well.
Labor policies (National- 2010 and 2015- Provincial) and law do not legally recognize these workers in the informal sector as “workers’ so they cannot have claims in labor courts to protect their rights. Left on their own, a majority of these workers lacked skills, expertise, competence and linkages needed to access the income generating alternatives.
UN-WOMEN, Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and NGO “Baidarie-Sialkot” successfully launched a welfare project “Integrated Support for Socioeconomic Rehabilitation of the jobless/ vulnerable women home based Soccer Stitchers in Sialkot -Pakistan” here several years ago.
The goal of this project was to ensure the maximum empowerment of these 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.
“ It has taken about four years to us to provide them the necessary training of the other alternative skills and to provide them their new jobs to as many as 4000 female workers out of total 16000”, said Prof. Arshad Mehmood Mirza (Executive Director NGO Baidarie-Sialkot.
He said that another batch of such 2000 more female workers would also be adjusted in the alternative jobs within a year in active collaboration with the UN-WOMEN in Sialkot.
He said that some effective and urgent joint efforts were being made for the skill development, capacity building and access to the local job markets for these 16000 jobless home based women workers (HBWs) in Sialkot by taking all the stakeholders on board towards this goal on harmonious grounds.
In Sialkot, the thousands of the house based women workers have stressed upon the need of early policy making and necessary legislation for their welfare.
They have also urged the government to ensure the capacity building of the home based women 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.
They urged the government to take these vital steps to save voiceless and ignored home based women workers from further exploitation , urging that the Punjab government should approve and adopt Policy on Home Based Workers s in line with ILO Convention 177 to ensure Decent working environment on gender responsive basis, expedited necessary legislation for accomplishment of the policy objectives, awarding legal status to HBWs, provision of legal minimum wage to HBWs, ensuring safe and healthy working environment, admissibility of HBWS for social security, old age pension, worker welfare grants and other legal entitlements, provision of access to job diversification arrangements i.e. skill training and access to job opportunities for home based women soccer stitchers in Sialkot.