Network of Homebased Workers
in South Asia

History of Homebased Workers

The unorganized sector workers of the informal economy are the largest group of workers. The informal economy accounts for nearly half of th total non-agricultural employment in East Asia and as much as 80% in other parts of Asia.Within this sector, homebased worker refers to the general category of workers who carry out remunerative work within their homes or in the surrounding areas.

The number of homebased workers is estimated to be around 50 million in the countries of South Asia. The numbers of women homebased workers are growing rapidly. In 2000, 35% of all women workers were homebased workers. In 2005, 51% of all women workers were homebased workers. There has been an increase of 16% in the proportion of homebased women workers in just five years.

Mostly the young work as homebased worker - 51% of the women workers are under 30 years, out of which, 8% of workers are children under 14 years.

Homebased workers contribute to the country’s growth and to its exports. For example, the incense-stick industry contributes $300 million annually through production in India including an export value of $56 million. The garment industry in Bangladesh contributes approximately $454 million to its national income and is the country’s largest export earner and fourth largest employer. Pakistan accounts for 80% of the world’s match-grade footballs and earns nearly $50 million in foreign exchange from this industry alone. This market is growing rapidly. In India, the handicrafts exports have increased by 67% during last four years (2002-2006) from $2.2 billion to $3.7billion. Despite its contribution, the true extent and nature of Homebased work has not been reflected in the official statistics nor perhaps recognized by the workers themselves. Homebased workers remain invisible and unrecognized and are also unprotected by the existing laws.

Women tend to work within the home, partly for cultural reasons and partly because they can combine work and family responsibilities. They learn the trade from their mothers and other family members and often assist such work in childhood.

There are two main types of workers: Piece-rate workers and Own-account workers.

The earnings of Homebased workers, especially women, are extremely low. According to National Sample Survey(NSS) (1999-2000) data (in India), the average earnings of a woman worker was about Rs. 27 per day, both for piece rated and self employed workers.

Homebased workers lack collective bargaining skills , lack occupational health and safety and social protection but the economic problems faced by them are different. Homebased workers face the problem ofexploitation, of low wages and lack of secure contracts. In addition, they have to pay for many of the non wage costs of production – costs of space and storage, utilities and equipment. To improve their situation homebased workers need the capacity to bargain. The self employed lack access to local markets and face competition. To change their situation, homebased workers need better access to financial markets and better capacities to compete in product markets.



(As approved by the Board of Trustees on 05.09.2014)


The structure of an organization or a network depends on what it’s purpose and strategies are.

Vision Statement

HomeNets in South Asia envisions a scenario in which Homebased Workers are visible, protected, promoted, empowered ..

Newsletter,Issue 1