Home Based Women Workers (HBWW) is a struggle for the recognition of HBWWs in Pakistan as formal labour and the extension of labour laws and rights to HBWWs. Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) is a registered trade union for organising and advancing the labour and economic rights of HBWWs in Pakistan.
While HBWWF is a countrywide network, for the purpose of this case study the struggle across Sindh (with a particular focus on Karachi and Hyderabad), and Punjab (primarily Lahore) is analysed.
The HBWWF’s struggle is differentiated across provinces as labour laws are a provincial subject. It is most active and has the greatest gains in Sindh where it has a decade-long history of mobilizing the HBWWs from the ground-up. Due to these efforts the struggle has already achieved its demand for a comprehensive legal framework on home-based workers in Sindh. In Punjab, on the other hand, the struggle is still focused on building pressure for a political consensus on legislative reform. Thus, while the struggle in Sindh is about legal implementation, that in Punjab and other regions is about legislative reform.
HBWWF faces varying backlash based on geographical regions, for example: the backlash against the struggle in Sindh is specifically in the form of bureaucratic delays in implementation of the law, whereas, the broader backlash across other regions includes lack of legislative reform (all regions except Sindh), and challenges emerging from interaction with other trade unions and employers within the relevant sectors (all regions).