Khalida Niaz

NOWSHEA: A home-based woman worker in Nowshera says she can make bed sheets, curtains and clothes of every design, but the problem is that the people in village only buy cheaper commodities and she don’t have access to market.

Forty-year-old Rashda says after her husband fell ill, she instead of seeking help from others decided to earn livelihood with dignity and started home-based work. Rashda told TNN that her husband was diagnosed with cancer four years ago after which their family life became extremely difficult because he was the sole breadwinner for the family. She said she completed a sewing course and also did a beautician course and started working from home.

Rashda said she also brings cloth from market and sell it in her village and looks after her children and ailing husband. She said her income can improve if she starts receiving orders from the market. She said she tried to open a sewing centre for training of other girls, but failed after not getting help from anyone.

Rashda, when asked about working women’s rights, said she is unaware about such matters.

KP Workers Union president Tajmina said while talking to TNN that the main problem for women workers is lack of recognition. She said there is need of laws in this regard after which women workers will get social security cards and other privileges enjoyed by the workers.

Tajmina said home-based worker women get too little money as compared to their effort. She said bridal and other embroidery suits used in functions by people are expensive in the market and average price of such suits starts from 10,000 and the range gets higher as much as the buyer can afford. However, she said, the women workers, who work day in and day out on finishing of these suites, only get Rs500 or Rs600 for their work. She said the actual profit is earned by the middleman.

Tajmina said she has held a couple of meetings with female lawmakers over ensuring rights for women workers. She said MPA Zenab has assured her that she would definitely do something for home-based women workers.

Javed Khan, a middleman in a Nowshera market, told TNN that his work is not so easy because he has to go to every street in all kinds of weather conditions to collect orders. He denied the impression of taking more benefit and insisted that he hardly makes ends meeting with his meagre income.

MPA Aasia Khattak said there is no data about working women. She said she is making efforts to do something for home-based women workers. She said a bill is being drafted for home-based women workers and work on it will be completed after the situation gets better. She said working women will get registration and all other facilities like free education, medical treatment and other benefits after enactment of the law.

Tajmina said home-based women workers have formed a society and 800 women are members in it. She said a large number of women pack sticks for ice cream factories. She said there are about 900 sticks in a single pack, but women workers get only one rupee for one pack. She said women stitching clothes, making artificial flowers and doing packing are also not earning the income which they deserve.

Fashion designer Dur-e-Shahwar has found solution to this problem by employing five women with her brand without involvement of middleman. She said she is paying much better to the women workers for their quality work and also polishing their talent by giving them creative work.

KP Labour Department Director Irfan Khan said a law for home-based workers is on the cards and meetings are being held in this regard. He said home-based workers will get all rights after enactment of the law.