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South Asia: HomeNet Charter of Demands calls for interventions to protect home based workers from fall out of COVID-19 crisis

Author: HomeNet South Asia , Published on: 2 April 2020

“COVID-19: Impact on Home-Based Workers in South Asia, Charter of Demands by HomeNet South Asia”, 31 March 2020

South Asia, while not one of the first regions to be hit by the virus, has seen a steady climb in cases…Leading international organisations and health experts have recognised that South Asia is particularly vulnerable to the pandemic due to the large swathes of population that live in constricted spaces and the lack of widespread and competent medical facilities…

Apart from the health epidemic, nations, from the South Asian region, are also staring at an economic epidemic … [i]t is, again, the most vulnerable that face the most economic uncertainty. Without the backing of social security nets, informal workers are at the risk of slipping into a vicious cycle of poverty without access to income, food supplies, water and sanitation, efficient healthcare and reliable and feasible financial support.

Within the category of informal workers, home-based workers (HBWs) are some of the most vulnerable … It is estimated that South Asia is home to over 50 million home-based workers, a majority of whom are women.

Short-Term, Immediate Interventions

  1. Income support – including cash transfers and cash handouts …equal to the monthly minimum wage of the country/ state … for at least three months …
  2. Free rations … to all home-based workers for at least three months …
  3. Door-to-door delivery of services, when needed, including rations, soaps, basic medicines and other protective gear.
  4. Installation of mobile washbasins with water and soap in all low-income communities.
  5. Training and counselling services offered at local clinics, schools and other community spaces to combat the virus.
  6. Access to free-of-cost tests and healthcare facilities at public hospitals.
  7. Disseminate reliable information on emergency numbers and nearby health points to communities …
  8. Access to dedicated emergency services in case of domestic violence or other legal emergencies.

Long-Term Sustained Intervention

  1. Recognition of home-based workers, through policies and laws, will be key in protecting them during adverse situations like the coronavirus pandemic.
  2. Setting up of a Recovery Fund for informal workers including women home-based workers.
  3. Promote local economies through no interest loans and tax exemptions that are extended to home-based workers’ cooperatives and producer companies.
  4. Ensure employers (brands and large corporations) recognise home-based workers as part of their supply chains and that they extend minimum wages and social protection to home-based workers.
  5. Improve access to housing, basic services, public health facilities and childcare for home-based workers

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