The field visits aimed to provide an opportunity for the delegates to interact with home-based workers (HBWs), gain insights into their nature of work, and understand the challenges they face.
On April 27, 2023, on day 4 of the HNI Congress, participants put their HNI t-shirt on, comfortable shoes and hopped onto 8 different buses that took each group to different locations in the outskirts of Kathmandu. Six home-based worker organisations led the hosting efforts: Home-Based Workers Concern Society Nepal (HBWCSN), SABAH Nepal, Women for Human Rights (WHR), Saathi, and Class Nepal.
South of Kathmandu city, the delegates visited traditional Newari settlements: Bugamati, Khokana, and Sunakoti in the Lalitpur. Home-based workers in these areas were involved in various crafts such as wooden handicrafts, knitting, embroidery, harpic and phynel production, liquid soap making, straw and plastic mat making, carpet weaving, soap making, incense making, food processing, and tailoring.
One of the groups visited SABAH Nepal’s office and Flagship Store in the Lalitpur district, south of Kathmandu City. SABAH Nepal is a community-based social business organization that houses its Trade Facilitation Center (TFC) at its office space. The TFC serves as a hub for product design, development, and marketing of HBWs’ products, connecting grassroots women’s products to national and international markets through trade linkages. During the visit, the delegates had the opportunity to explore different units within SABAH Nepal, including production, business, program, and marketing units, and interact with HBWs.
Further south of Kathmandu, delegates visited Godawari. HBWs in Godawari were engaged in various work such as knitting, pickle making, shoemaking, and beadwork. The participants interacted with HBWs to understand their nature of work, their challenges and marketing strategies while touring through the residential area where they lived. They also had an interactive session at the municipality hall to learn about HBWs’ work, their collective efforts, and their collaboration with local stakeholders for sustainable development.
Delegates also visited the eastern part of Kathmandu City, specifically Byasi and Manahora in the Bhaktapur district. In Byasi, they learned about Dhaka weaving, a traditional handwoven fabric, and interacted with HBWs. They also visited the homes of two HBWs. In Manahora, a slum area, they had an interactive session with HBWs from the Ujjwal Manohara Women Home-Based Worker Group. This group advocates for improving housing and the community environment while addressing various forms of violence faced by women and girls in the area.
In Mulpani, the majority of HBWs are piece-rate workers, with approximately 600 HBWs who are members of the Mahila Utthan Group, a Member-Based Organization (MBO). They are involved in the production of traditional children’s clothes, shawls, garlands, pickles, silver and copper statues, ladies’ shoes, incense, and disposable dishes made from leaves. During the field visit, there was an interaction with HBWs, a showcase of their products, and a visit to a newly opened store where HBWs’ products are displayed and sold to the public.
The last field route was in the North part of Kathmandu, delegates were taken to the Women for Human Rights (WHR) office in Budanilkantha. WHR focuses on single women’s issues and aims to change traditional stereotypes and mindsets that hinder their participation and access to resources. There are more than 500 informal workers, with 30 percent being home-based workers (HBWs), engaged in activities such as Dhaka weaving, incense making, shoemaking, and pickle making. WHR takes orders for stitching, which are provided to HBWs on a piece-rate basis. The organization markets and sells many of the products made by homeworkers, and it organizes bazaars at their office four to five times a year to support HBWs in selling their products.