Labor Rights, Fighting ExploitationLabor
Born in northern Pakistan, Hazer Gul began working as a firewood collector at the age of 8 and then as a weaver at the age of 16 to support his family. Although he worked over 9 hours each day, Hazer could never earn enough cash to feed his family and was caught in a cycle of bonded labor. Eventually freeing himself, Hazer has an intimate understanding of the problems that plague people working in home-based manufacturing throughout Pakistan, and has developed a plan to empower laborers involved in that sector.
The New Idea:
Pakistan has a thriving cottage industry of nearly 10 million home-based manufacturers -- renowned in South Asia for its expertise in textiles, weaving, woodwork, and pottery. Yet their sector remains largely informal in nature, leaving workers vulnerable to exploitation by middlemen and other industry power players. Through his organization, the Islampur Cottage Industries Association, Hazer educates laborers about their rights, organizes them to assert those rights, links them to banks and suppliers, and guides them through the process of producing and marketing their products -- all while providing a valuable but transformed role for middlemen. Hazer knows that in order to eliminate bonded labor in Pakistan, solutions must be led by the affected communities themselves.
Starting with the weaver community in Swat, Pakistan, Hazer has established rights awareness and is integrating informal workers as key force in the economy. In 2009, Hazer convinced the Ministry of Industries to declare Islampur village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province a model village. The government also agreed to provide 800 acres of land, over US$805,000 for the development of a state-of-the-art weaving college, 100 weaving looms, a school for workers’ children, a branch of the Industrial Development Bank to provide interest free and low markup loans, and small residential units for poor workers.
Invest in Hazer Gul:
With your support, Ashoka will help Hazer promote the rights and economic wellbeing of home-based manufacturers in Pakistan and throughout Asia.
This listing is for 1 month of the three years that Ashoka has committed to supporting Hazer's living costs so he can focus on his idea and expand his impact.
- Labor Rights, Fighting Exploitation
- Fellow Name
- Hazer Gul
- Amount Requested
- Date Posted
- October 08, 2012