Millions of workers, most of them women, carry out different forms of paid employment in their homes. But because they work behind closed doors, their work is invisible and rarely recognised. Since the 1970’s there have been organisations working with homebased workers to make them visible; fight for recognition of their rights and for improvement of their living and working conditions.
The first of these organisations was the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), of Ahmedabad, in India, a trade union for women workers in the informal sector, including homebased workers. Other groups have been set up in South East Asia; South Africa; North America and Europe that partner with a lot and different organizations, government structures and online businesses (for example this and this) In some cases, new women’s trade unions have been set up; in others, non-government organisations have formed networks or cooperatives for homebased workers.
There have been growing contacts between different groups in both North and South. In 1994, a meeting was held to set up an international network – HomeNet – to extend these contacts and to coordinate international lobbying work, focusing in 1995 and 1996 on the International Labour Organisation.
The aims of the network are:
- To build an international network for homebased workers and their organisations as well as NGOs, cooperatives, trade unions, researchers, women’s groups etc. including all those directly or indirectly undertaking work in this field.
- To coordinate an international campaign for the improvement of homebased workers conditions of work at national, regional and international levels.
- To collect and disseminate information on homebased work to members of the network and other interested organisations.
- To assist in obtaining technical assistance for, and act as a channel of the same to homebased workers.
The network publishes a regular newsletter as part of the process of exchanging and disseminating information on homebased workers and their organisations. We welcome comments, criticisms and contributions to the newsletter.