O.N.E April 2011

Page 1

April 2O11

Typhoon survivors in the Philippines show their products funded through a conditional cash grant

WELLBEING – a comfortable, happy, healthy life ONE PERSON Roger Ricafort, International Programme Unit Director

HOME AS FACTORY IN INDONESIA Millions of women earn an

of Oxfam Hong Kong, discusses wellbeing.

income by working at home – sewing shoes, assembling electronic parts, rolling cigarettes and more. Yet their work is often not respected by their families or by the women themselves, reports Siti Maimunah.

HUMANITARIAN WORK AND WELLBEING Survivors of Typhoon Parma in the Philippines (pictured) say they value material assistance as well as being able to participate in decisions about the aid, states Honorio B. de Dios, Programme Officer with Oxfam Hong Kong’s Humanitarian and Disaster Risk Management team.

FAIR TRADE AND CONSUMERISM IN HONG KONG If everyone lived a similar lifestyle to people in Hong Kong, the world would need the equivalent resources of 2.2 planets, writes Sharon Poon.


8 NEW PARTNERS, with a highlight on the Education, Science and

projects, people plan, build and manage their own water systems, and local governments are now using this methodology in their own programmes, writes Mark Blackett, Country Programme Manager.

Technology Bureau of Zheng’an County, in southwest China.

SEXUAL MINORITIES AND WELLBEING Navin Vasudev, Regional Programme Coordinator in southern Africa, explores discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and inter-sexed people (LGBTI) in southern Africa, China, around Asia, and in the workplace.

WELLBEING By Roger Ricafort

From the ground… Nawalparasi in Nepal was one cold place in January, and not even the fantastic taste of roadside donuts and samosa helped. I was in the district for an Oxfam International visit and had the opportunity to meet old friends from our local partner organisation, SAHAMATI. An interesting part of the discussion was their work on embedding

Zambia: Villagers, partners and Oxfam Hong Kong colleagues discuss wellbeing.

Nepal: Children are already skilled in basket weaving.

…back to a familiar place…

in relation to our concerns about gender,

Bangladesh, I had the opportunity to listen

All of the above, and everything in

have also held two wellbeing workshops

to a partner, Centre for Resource Studies,

between, have been exhilarating

in China. Incidentally, last month, in

present on what responsible wellbeing

developments. It brought to mind the

March, the Chinese National People’s

meant for them. There, our consultants on

time in Hong Kong in 1999 when we

Congress discussed “happiness” as its

our livelihoods strategy also talked about

started preparations for Oxfam Hong

strategic slogan for the coming years. In

agency and resilience towards responsible

Kong’s new strategic plan, and I was

Hong Kong, we will soon be working with

wellbeing. In Zambia, our partner HODI

reflecting on the strategic direction for

youth volunteers in the Oxfam Club on an

(which means ‘May I enter?’), had earlier

OHK and the question of the “end” of our

exploration of “responsible wellbeing.”

submitted their new strategy built on the

work. It became obvious to me that my

responsible wellbeing framework.

more than three decades of work – with

Through all this work we seek to

peasants and farmers, industrial workers,

understand better local concepts of

…to high levels of government and multilaterals…

church groups, political movements,

wellbeing and test our framework, which

students, cooperatives, non-governmental

is based on four inter-related dimensions

organisations and humanitarian workers

– self-sustenance, self-esteem, self-

– all point to one thing: after all is said

determination and social responsibility.

About 2,500 government leaders, policy

and done, people everywhere share an

This is an exciting development of

makers, statisticians, researchers and

aspiration for a “good life”, for “wellbeing”.

discovery and rediscovery.

in the city of Busan in South Korea to talk

The idea of “responsible wellbeing” was

The idea of wellbeing is not new; the effort

about “measuring the progress of societies”.

incorporated in the 2001-2006 strategic

to understand it and make it operational

Under the aegis of the Organisation for

plan and became enshrined in our

within development practice is novel. I

Economic Cooperation and Development

vision – a world where people are free

have seen the excitement among different

(OECD), the organisation of the 25 richest

from poverty and enjoy both rights and

people dealing with it; at the same time, I

economies in the world, the conference

wellbeing. The next step was to make this

understand the challenges and difficulties.

discussed the need to revisit how we

concept concrete and operational in our

But this is true of all new ideas and

understand, and measure, progress.

development practice.

discoveries – it takes time, nurture and

“responsible wellbeing” in their programme planning and monitoring system – something we had begun talking about two years ago. Four months earlier, in

resilience and sustainable livelihoods. We

development people recently converged

The concept of “wellbeing” took centre

patience. What is important is that we

…and out again…

allow people to work with it, understand it,

luminaries as Richard Layard of the London

Since 2007, we have organised wellbeing

own, and develop their own narratives and

School of Economics, Joseph Stiglitz from

exploratory workshops in Zambia, in

stories around the basic idea. The different

the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi commission (which

Nepal, and in the Philippines, starting

strands and storylines will ensure that

was put together by French President

with “curiosity” as a theme. It is great that

we will have richness and robustness; to

Nicolas Sarkozy to develop alternatives

curious people and groups from all over

aspire for orthodoxy and systematisation

to such traditional measures as the

the world are working with the ideas of

very early will only serve to kill it.

Gross Domestic Product) and various

“wellbeing”, “responsible wellbeing” and

governmental leaders who are working to

“quality of life”. We have explored these

address the question of quality of life and

concepts in planning and evaluating our

wellbeing in their societies.

work in Cambodia and Timor Leste, and

stage – with presentations and proposals and debates between and among such

mould it, experiment with it, make it their

Roger Ricafort is Director of Oxfam Hong Kong’s International Programme Unit. Based in Hong Kong, he has been with the agency since 1997. Photos supplied by the author.


Wellbeing as humanitarian goal By Honorio B. de Dios

What is a happy life?

dimensional. We call it responsible

really value in emergency relief? Is it

wellbeing because it has both individual

the material benefits, or do they find

Understanding the quality of life and

and collective dimensions and because

any social and psychological gains as

wellbeing that poor people aspire to –

it highlights the responsibility we have for

well? Do beneficiaries see a link with

what is a comfortable, healthy or happy

contributing to each other’s wellbeing.

relief and the other dimensions of their

life 1 – is an important starting point


Humanitarian relief should promote responsible wellbeing

OHK’s experience with the Typhoon

of personal and collective fulfilment,

The goal of any humanitarian relief is

2009 provides us with insights on how

and a balance and integration of

to save lives and reduce the suffering

beneficiaries link humanitarian response

four main aspects: self-sustenance,

of disaster-affected people. Hence,

and responsible wellbeing. Beneficiaries

self-determination, self-esteem and

emergency response projects focus on

identified several aspects of the relief

responsibility. OHK understands that

identifying what people need in order for

items that for them matter the most: the

poverty (ill-being) has both material

them to survive a disaster quickly and

quantity, the quality, and the manner by

and nonmaterial aspects and therefore

effectively. But it would be interesting

which the items were given.

achieving wellbeing must also be multi-

to ask: What do people in disasters

for Oxfam Hong Kong’s development programming. For OHK, the goal of development is achieving ‘responsible wellbeing’, where people obtain a sense

Parma emergency relief and early recovery projects in the Philippines in


crib made in Urbiztondo, Pangasinan. Other products and their makers featured on the front cover. / Photo: Madeleine Marie Slavick TOP Officers

of the Project Management Committee in Dorongan Valerio, Pangasinan, Philippines, review the list of beneficiaries. MIDDLE Volunteers

from the community help in the relief distribution in Mangatarem, Pangasinan. BOTTOM Training


on simple bookkeeping

Wellbeing – n. the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy. Oxford dictionaries. See http://www.oxforddictionaries.com


Early recovery and responsible wellbeing

of Dorongan Valerio in Mangatarem,

recovery and in effect provide them with a

The early recovery components of the

my loan and was able to lend money

sense of security. Quoting one beneficiary:

project provided beneficiaries with the

to others.” A colleague at CONCERN

“We were able to save, because we

means to engage in livelihoods of their

concurs that the project “brought

had rice to cook for three weeks. We

choice. It consisted mainly of support

the people together and helped the

used the money we saved on food for

such as farm inputs (seeds, fertilisers,

beneficiaries become more organised,

other household needs. This reduced

tools), conditional cash grants (for

responsible and accountable to each

our worries and allowed us to focus on

small enterprises such as vending,

other in order to sustain the project.”

recovery for the following days.”

livestock raising), and food for work (farm

Having the appropriate quantity is important as it allows people to bridge the gap between the relief phase and

Pangasinan.“I bought piglets from my profit from my harvest. I paid for

rehabilitation activities). These projects

In terms of community livelihood

Good quality relief items can also bring

immediately enabled people to earn

mechanisms, PDRN and CONCERN

good feelings to beneficiaries. A health


created community-managed revolving

worker in Pangasinan Province told

funds as a strategy for sustainability

us, “Some were even dancing after

But again, the question is how can

as well as to encourage community

receiving the good quality hygiene

livelihood recovery promote the different

responsibility. It is too early to say how

items.” Is this promoting wellbeing after

dimensions of responsible wellbeing?

successful the revolving funds will be in

a disaster? Maybe, but one thing is sure:

Perhaps one critical element is to create the

the long term, but what can be said is

the beneficiaries feel very satisfied and

appropriate processes and mechanisms

that the scheme is already preventing the

proud of the relief items they received.

that allow beneficiaries to regain their self-

beneficiaries from further indebtedness

confidence, recover their sense of worth,

to loan sharks, and is promoting people’s

“We are glad that we had the chance

and experience working together towards

dignity. Once the revolving funds become

to help those who suffered like us

the goal of achieving wellbeing. The three

more established through the regular

from this disaster. We are very happy,

OHK partner organisations in the Typhoon

repayment of borrowers, they will be able to

even though we are tired,” says Eliza

Parma response – People’s Disaster

serve other residents, thereby encouraging

Tapidos, a beneficiary of typhoon relief in

Risk Reduction Network (PDRN), Center

responsibility for the wellbeing of others.

the village of Urbiztondo. Her comment

for Emergency Aid and Rehabilitation

reflects an equally important aspect of any

(CONCERN) and Cordillera Disaster

Clearly, there is a strong link between

humanitarian response project that clearly

Response and Development Services

emergency relief, recovery, and wellbeing

promotes responsible wellbeing: the

(CORDIS-RDS) – did this by organising

of disaster survivors, individually and

participation of the beneficiaries and other

groups within communities and helping

collectively. The experience in OHK’s

community stakeholders in designing,

them strengthen their livelihoods capabilities

Typhoon Parma response shows that

implementing and evaluating the relief

which hopefully will contribute in building

beneficiaries value the material/physical


their resiliency to disasters. It is expected

benefits of humanitarian assistance as

that these groups will continue working

well as being able to participate in the

together even after the project has ended.

decision-making of the projects, in the

Just as it is important to determine the

short and long term. Participation, then,

most appropriate relief package based on the needs of the beneficiaries, it is equally

As the beneficiaries were organised,

seems to be a necessary aspect in a

important to ensure the participation of

the grounds for working together were

comfortable, healthy or happy life; a life

beneficiaries and other stakeholders

effectively laid down. There was clear

with self-determination, self-esteem, self-

in the process. In the Typhoon Parma

distribution of tasks among the members

sustenance and responsibility (wellbeing),

response project, beneficiaries,

of groups formed for project management

for the individual and the community alike.

community representatives and leaders

and monitoring. Beneficiaries also

contributed significantly in defining the

attended basic training sessions in project

selection criteria of who received relief

management to enable them to manage

supplies (there is not always enough

and sustain the project beyond the

for everyone, so priorities need to be

project period. Beneficiaries of projects

made), identifying the beneficiaries based

run by PDRN, for instance, are now able

on those criteria (names are put on a

to prepare simple business plans, run

list and agreed to), and organising the

group management systems, do finance

distribution of relief items. Decisions and

management, and are aware of the basic

resolutions to problems were made with

principles of disaster risk reduction.

Honorio B. de Dios is Programme Officer with Oxfam Hong Kong’s Humanitarian and Disaster Risk Management team. Photographs supplied by the author.

the participation of the stakeholders – this promotes volunteerism, strengthens the

On a personal level, a sense of dignity

solidarity of a community, and facilitates

and responsibility can clearly be seen

wellbeing for all.

from the reflection of Lolita Solomon, a woman farmer beneficiary from the village

Beneficiaries in Abulug, Cagaya, showing their corn harvest; the low-interest loan project is being managed by the farmers themselves. The author of this article, Honorio B. de Dios, is second from right.


Water, Wellbeing and Initiative in Vietnam By Mark Blackett

Oxfam Hong Kong has been supporting Vietnam’s poorest and most vulnerable communities for almost 25 years, since 1987. Over the years, the country has made phenomenal economic growth, with Vietnam emerging as a middle income country; however, some people have clearly not benefited, especially ethnic minorities living in remote mountainous areas along borders with China, Laos and Cambodia. In these rural areas, it is common for nine out of every ten people to be trapped in poverty, and it is in these areas that Oxfam Hong Kong has focused its support. These communities often prioritise clean water for drinking, washing and cooking. For example in the district of Ky Son, which is located in Nghe An Province, near the Laos border, Oxfam has supported water and sanitation for about 7,000 people in 20 communities. Oxfam could provide clean water by sub-contracting to an outside engineering company, as local government often does. However this simple approach often does not provide a system that the community wants and these systems often break down within two years. In contrast, Oxfamsupported water systems tend to work at full capacity for a decade or more.

Behind the success

Drowning is the leading cause of child injury deaths in Vietnam, as children are often swept away in rivers when collecting water for the family. This child should lead a safer life, with a new water tank in Ta Ca. / Oxfam Hong Kong

Why are Oxfam’s programmes so

In the development of water supplies,

the technical support of an engineer; this

successful? It is not only what you do, it

this means that communities form

ensures they get the water system they

is how. In Oxfam projects, communities

committees to plan the location of water

want. Finally, they create a maintenance

are in charge of what they want to do,

sources, choose where tanks are located,

and operations committee that monitors

how it will be done, and how they will

organise community members to assist

water supply use and sets a small user

maintain the initiative. Communities are

with the construction, oversee the tender

fee which ensures that there is a budget

empowered every step of the way, with

for construction contractors, and monitor

to cover future repairs.

wellbeing created throughout the process

the work of these contractors. Crucially,

as well as in the outcomes.

they also lead the approval process with


The new tank provides clean, fresh and abundant water for all. Every community has a committee which leads with the maintenance of the water supply system, and every two weeks, there is a public cleaning day for the entire village. / Oxfam Hong Kong

People as drivers

Save time

Providing a simple water system is

A water supply right in the village saves

therefore much more than a contract

time. Water collection is traditionally

with an engineer. It is about allowing the

done by women or children, with every

communities to be in the driving seat. This

household needing at least one member

allows them to show that they are capable

to walk up to two hours to reach the river

of self-determination, thereby challenging

and collect 5 to 10 litres in bamboo pipes

mainstream perceptions that poor people,

or water buckets. This translates to about

especially ethnic minorities, can only ever

1,000 hours a day in an average village. A

be passive recipients of donor aid. Instead,

water tank in the village can cut this down

the communities plan the water system,

to minutes, with women and children now

bringing in their extensive knowledge of the

having more time for leisure, education

area. This knowledge is often ignored by

and income-generating activities.

outsiders, which is often a leading cause of project failure: wells dry up or become contaminated. Villagers also acquire construction and maintenance skills, and

Government to use Oxfam methodology

they find confidence to challenge poor

In all, a community-run water supply

workmanship of contractors, which is

project brings its individuals better health

another frequent problem.

and a greater sense of cohesion, selfdetermination and overall wellbeing.

Levelling the ground for a new water tank in the village of Khe Nap. Oxfam has supported about 20 communities in the district to build a water supply system, benefiting about 7,000 people. / Oxfam Hong Kong

Save lives

The success of Oxfam Hong Kong’s

With a clean water supply, the incidence of

requesting the agency’s support to use this

waterborne disease has been reduced by

methodology in their own programmes,

90 per cent in a five-year period (see chart)

with local governments willing to fund

as are the costs for medical treatment.

the construction costs for water supply

Secondly, people no longer have to run

systems. This initiative, which began in

the risk of using the river for bathing and

2010, is a remarkable step forward. It

collecting water, and the risks are real:

allows Oxfam to assist more people in

Drowning is the leading cause of child-

impoverished communities and to make

injury deaths in Vietnam, and the rates are

a significant impact in national poverty

likely to worsen, as increasingly, climate

reduction and water supply programmes.

work has led to local governments

change and watershed degradation lead to severe flash floods.

Mark Blackett is Country Programme Manager for Oxfam Hong Kong in Vietnam. He is based in Hanoi.

Reduction in disease burden in Huu Lap Commune, Ky Son District following Oxfam Hong Kong water supply projects 250

Gynaecological diseases


Diarrhoea 150

Red eyes 100

Skin diseases




Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5


Silence and Stigma:

Discrimination against Sexual Minorities By Navin Vasudev

Development organisations working on

men but who do not perceive themselves

a clinic, most of them are ridiculed and

gender equality often build strategies

as gay or bisexual.

pushed away. One transgendered person

which strive to empower women,

says, “Doctors look down upon us as

Why is there discrimination?

freaks who don’t deserve good health.”

of this intervention is to combat gender-

A main reason why sexual minorities

recently signed a bill into law that now

based violence. This is an important

are discriminated against is because

also criminalises sex between women.

element of Oxfam Hong Kong’s work on

there is so little understanding of the

livelihoods and security. In areas where

issues around sexuality, especially

In fact, homosexuality remains illegal in

we work, however, we also come across a

homosexuality, which is often shrouded

much of the region, and while government

minority group – sexual minorities – who

in stigma, silence, taboo and shame.

programmes such as PEPFAR (President’s

suffer no less from violence, discrimination

This lack of awareness and acceptance

Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) fund

and prejudice. They frequently face

extends beyond the individual level

the purchase of condoms, it does not

heinous forms of discrimination and

to the institutional, including the non-

cover the purchase of water-based

prejudice often similar to those faced

governmental organisation (NGO) world.

lubricants, which are necessary to prevent

by women: they lack a public voice, are

In 2010 for instance, when two gay men in

the tearing of condoms during anal

rendered invisible by family and society,

Malawi were hounded by the media and

intercourse. A number of studies around

and are often treated violently. In some

the general public for outing themselves

the world show that LGBTI persons are

countries, homosexuality is considered

and declaring their wish to be married,

a high-risk group to HIV infections, yet in

so criminal that a conviction may bring

Oxfam Hong Kong learned that some civil

Malawi and Zambia, there are virtually no

more jail time than rape or murder; it may

society groups, including an NGO which

anti-AIDS programmes to assist sexual

lead to a death sentence. Yet, the sexual

Oxfam supports, were in support of anti-


minority community is seldom considered

homosexuality, which is the predominant

or included as part of a development

stance in the country.

strengthen their skills in leadership, augment their decision-making abilities and improve their wellbeing. A key area

agency’s gender work. Thus, there is a need for more organisations to work towards acknowledging the rights and needs of sexual minorities.

Discrimination in Southern Africa

In Malawi, where homosexuality acts between men are illegal, the President

Discrimination in South Asia A similar situation prevails in countries in South Asia where transgendered

In many countries in southern Africa

and inter-sexed persons, called hijras,

What is a sexual minority?

where Oxfam Hong Kong works, we see

live in the margins of society and have

a number of instances where people face

little or no social status. Hijras can face

Sexual minorities can be defined as

hardships. Many Africans who are visibly

extreme discrimination in health, housing,

persons of a sexual orientation which is

different – such as transgendered persons

education, employment, immigration

not part of the majority, or whose practices

– are not able to access appropriate

and law. This is largely due to the fact

differ from the majority of the surrounding

health education and health care, and

that the bureaucracy has been unable

society. Initially, the term referred primarily

their wellbeing is at risk. In Zambia, for

to place them into male or female

to lesbians and gays, but it has come to

example, discussions with transgendered

gender categories through which they

include bisexuals and the wide spectrum

persons reveal that when they try to enter

can claim their legal rights and access

Celebration with the legalisation of homosexuality in India / Foreskin Press

Gay march - Chennai, India / Foreskin Press

of transgendered people: lesbians, male homosexuals (gays), bisexuals, the transgendered (those whose gender identity does not match their assigned sex) and inter-sexed (those whose biological sex cannot be clearly defined as male or female). These days, they are often referred to in short as LGBTI. This term also includes people who may not identify themselves in any such category but may practice the same sexual activities. An example of this is men who have sex with


for promotion, and therefore one’s earning power and income.

What you can do A lot of work needs to be done, by schools, government, and community organisations to help address the basic rights of sexual minorities. Oxfam Hong Kong has taken some steps and will continue to remain vigilant. The agency’s personnel policies already include the protection of rights for sexual minorities, which applies for everyone at the Earnest Matsoalne from the Kambaka ‘Men as Carers’ project in South Africa facilitates a group of community members talking about HIV & Aids, condoms and sex. They use any building available to facilitate these discussion groups. Here a tavern is used during the slow hours of mid morning to run their programmes. Photo: M Willman/Oxfam

public services. The legalisation of

Environment (iSEE), works to raise

homosexuality in Nepal (2007) and

awareness on sexual diversity and

India (2009) has been a step in bringing

gender identity, and promote the rights

more recognition and equality for sexual

of LGBTI persons. iSEE says there has

minorities, but more progress is needed.

been some improvement recently, but stigma and discrimination against sexual

Discrimination in China

minorities prevail. A spokesperson recalls

In China, discrimination against LGBTI

Quang Binh Province was raped by three

individuals also occurs. One situation that

drunken men in April 2010. The local court

Oxfam Hong Kong observes is among

would not declare a case of rape because

LGBTI sex workers, primarily gay men

the victim was not legally identified as a

and transgendered individuals. The

woman. According to the court, a victim

agency currently assists low-income sex

of rape case can only be a naturally born

workers in various cities and sees that


a case where a transgendered woman in

headquarters in Hong Kong and at the field offices in a total of ten countries. In community development programmes in southern Africa, we are developing strategies within the gender portfolio to build awareness on the rights of sexual minorities. In Zambia, the new country strategy clearly highlights the need for building awareness on the rights of sexual minorities; consequently, programmes targeting this group will be put in place shortly. In Malawi, there is also a plan to raise awareness among staff of Oxfam and partner organisations of the rights of minority groups. Only when we are aware and fully understand an issue, can we then reach out to the community at large. As the political and spiritual leader, Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) said, “You

LGBTI workers face more extreme levels of discrimination, such as acts of violence

In the Philippines, discrimination of sexual

by their clients. Some LGBTI workers

minorities also occurs in various ways.

do not use hospitals, because they have

There are cases of LGBTI students

experienced mistreatment from doctors,

being denied admission to schools or

whom they say are disrespectful and

being expelled, of companies blocking

look down at them. Oxfam is supporting

the advancement of LGBTI employees,

local community groups to provide

and law enforcement agencies harassing

various support. This includes a referral

gay men. Since 2006, several anti-

system with professional and empathetic

discrimination bills have been filed and

doctors so that LGBTI sex workers can

are pending before the Philippine Senate

be properly assisted; establishing support

and Congress, but so far, there is no law

networks among sex workers who can

to protect LGBTI rights.

must be the change you want to see in the world.” Navin Vasudev is the Regional Programme Coordinator for Oxfam Hong Kong’s programmes in southern Africa. A gay man, born in India, married in Canada, and now based in Johannesburg, South Africa, he acknowledges contributions from Oxfam Hong Kong colleagues Genela Buhia in the Philippines, Nguyen Thanh Ha in Vietnam, Wang Jing in China, as well as from iSEE (http://isee.org.vn/isee-en/) and the Oxfam team in Malawi.

provide emotional and other support to each other; and various activities to maintain their self-respect and selfidentity. After all, tongzhi, the Chinese

Discrimination in the workplace

word for gays and lesbians, translates as

In developing and developed countries


alike, discrimination in the workplace is pervasive. Homophobia remains the norm.

Discrimination in Southeast Asia

Because many employers have no policy

In Vietnam, the law does not recognise

their sexual orientation from co-workers.

transgendered people. The Institute

This can negatively affect a person’s

for Studies of Society, Economy and

wellbeing, productivity and chances

on issues around sexual majority/minority, many LGBTI people feel forced to hide

Mbali Malevu from Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, at a youth camp on diversity. Photo: G Ndwalane/Oxfam


Home is my factory By Siti Maimunah

Modello, Scholl, Choix, and Rohde are

food products, wrapping, packaging,

the income from their home-based work

all high-end brands of shoes. One pair

assembling electrical or electronic parts,

can sometimes cover most household

can cost more than 300,000 Rupiah

making shoes and bags, making machine


in Indonesia, or about US$35. Before

components, food production, printing,

being exported to Malaysia, Singapore,

typing, data entry, rolling cigarettes,

Germany, and Dubai, the shoes may have

producing incense, making toys, crafts,

touched Fatihah's hands.

plant nursery and post-harvest processing

Fatihah, one of millions

The challenge is within ourselves

in fisheries and agriculture sectors, and

The situation outlined above is what many

many others. The list is long and may

home-based workers face – a series of

involve high- or low-end products, but

injustices with deep roots. Peni, head of

tends to be for higher priced goods.

the Association of Women Home-workers of Indonesia, says, "Nevertheless, the

Are most home-based workers women?

main challenge for home-based workers

Yes. In Indonesia and in many parts of

to stop considering their work as merely

the world, this has to do mainly with the

a part-time job, and thus only deserving

gender dynamics in the home, where

low payment.” The Association is an

the woman is expected to stay, as wife,

OHK partner organisation based in East

mother, and household manager. So, if

Java where, Peni adds, “we learn a lot

a woman wants to earn any income, she

about organisational skills and home-

has to do it in the house. Home-based

based worker awareness." The agency

work is thus seen as suitable, as gender-

works to effect change in formal labour

appropriate: Women can now handle

unions, government and the wider public.

Fatihah is a home-based worker in

both domestic and productive roles. Yet

They also publish Swari, a magazine

Malang, a district in East Java Province.

this is where the problem originates. The

with inspiring stories on organisations

She is paid 2,700 Indonesian Rupiah

domestic role of a woman predominates,

that make a difference, and on individual

(IDR), or about US$0.30, for each pair

acts as an obstacle that prevents a

women’s experiences as home-based

she sews. Even though she works 10

woman from getting out of the house, and


to 12 hours a day, she at most earns

it limits her job prospects. Essentially,

IDR27,000 a day, about US$3. She says,

home-based work can make women

"It's good to have something to do" and

trapped, by space, time and social status.

that it is the only job available to her.

Working 8 to 12 hours a day at home

actually is within the women themselves; that is, to change their way of thinking,

Legal protection, not slavery

confines women and isolates them from

"Home-based workers form a portrait of

For Fatihah and millions of other home-

others. They generally have little or no

modern slavery," says Ratno Cahyadi,

based workers around Indonesia, and the

time or energy to go out to socialise, to

who works with the National Network of

world, the house functions as more than a

energise, or to learn anything new.

Friends of Home-Workers, another OHKsupported organisation which advocates

place to sleep, eat, drink and gather with

Does the work help raise women's status?

for better legal protection. He says that

No, generally not. Women’s status as

because they are classified as workers

wives has already positioned them as

in the informal sector; yet actually, he

Jobs done by home-based workers

second-rate persons in the family; and

says Indonesian labour law protects both

in such a position, the women generally

formal and informal workers.

Sewing, knitting, weaving, embroidery,

family also do not feel – that the women

ribbon-making, weaving sports rackets,

workers deserve a decent income.

stitching sports balls, attaching

Families do not tend to view the women

In Indonesia, most of the available work

shuttlecocks, beading necklaces, preparing

as important breadwinners, even though

is in the informal sector, a trend that has

relatives and friends, but also as a place for production and income generation. The workspace may be the kitchen, living room, family room, or terrace.

people tend to view home-based workers as being out of government jurisdiction

do not feel – and other members of the

Informal the norm


been increasing since 1998, during the

and respected, to have a good sense

the organisation. Sadly, this strategy

economic crisis in Indonesia, and right

of wellbeing, to live well, and to be able

was not effective. We had tried various

before Soeharto ended his presidency.

to grow as individuals. She also wants

methods, but until we were introduced to

At that time, there were 57 million

government to provide home-based

Perempuan Inspirasi Perubahan (Woman

informal workers, or about 60 per cent

workers with social security, holidays and

Inspiring Change), it was difficult to

of the workforce. According to Statistics

other labour rights.

maintain the commitment and passion of

Indonesia, the number increased to 63.8 million people in just four years. Last year, in 2010, it reached 65.3 million.

our members. The theme of this training

Labour union, legal union

was Preman Super, or Independent Woman as the Source of Change."

The Association has worked hard for


home-based women worker organisations

Peni says Preman Super has helped

to be formally recognised as labour

officers of the Association to be fully aware

Jobs in the informal work sector are

unions. The beginning – in 2006 – was

that each woman has her own strength

often the jobs that people choose last,

not easy, but the advocacy done by

based on her own experiences, skills, and

when they have no other options in the

the village women of Selogudik was an

knowledge. The women organisers are

formal sector. Maybe the workers had

inspiration for the women. They held

introduced to methods to help themselves

been rejected for positions at government

many hearings with the Public Work

– and then other women – to articulate

offices, factories or companies. In general,

Office in collaboration with several other

their personal and group strengths. One

work in the informal sector is seen as only

institutions, and at the end of 2008, the

popular method is making a mandala diri

providing enough money to survive on,

Association was acknowledged as a legal

to understand oneself; other ways include

not to live well on.

labour union in Probolinggo and Malang.

using drama, song, poetry, drawings and music. Eventually, once identified

Yuni, an advocate for change

Peni, independent woman as source of change

and recognised, the women’s strengths are then transformed into a remarkable energy, one that helps restore a good sense of self and wellbeing. Based in Jakarta, Siti Maimunah was a consultant for documenting learning from the Oxfam Hong Kong labour programme in Indonesia. Oxfam Hong Kong has supported both the Association of Women Homeworkers of Indonesia and the National Network of Friends of Home-Workers since 2005.

In 2006, a worker named Yuni decided t o j o i n t h e A s s o c i a t i o n o f Wo m e n

Peni has been involved since 2007.

Home-workers of Indonesia. She had

Responsible to develop the Association in

friends, other home-based workers

18 districts, she faces many challenges,

who were members, and she soon

among them internal ones. “In 2007, we

felt empowered to form a group of

started to formulate the organisational

embroiderers in the village of Selogudik.

structure. We established some divisions

She says she received good training

including management, advocacy, and

from the Association, from leadership

economy divisions, but then we faced

and organisational skills to specialised

difficulties to find the right person for

training in embroidery. Yuni wants home-

each position. Eventually, the officers

based workers to be acknowledged

were spread to the areas to support

O.N.E APRIL 2O11 10

Fair Trade in Hong Kong:

Where is the ‘fair’ when farmers get 10 cents for $20 worth of coffee? By Sharon Poon

Who doesn’t love to shop in Hong Kong?

(called a premium) which is enough to

The city has always been known as a

ensure that children in farming families

shopping paradise and ‘shop till you drop’

are able to go to school.

seems to be the city-wide motto. Signs of Gucci, Louis Vuitton and agnès b. are

So why are the sales of Fair Trade

ubiquitous. The sight of a toddler sporting

products so low in Hong Kong? Is it the

a Burberry jacket is no longer a surprise.

lack of availability? A lack of education and awareness? Or do we simply not care

Even for those of us who do not claim to

about the lives of those less fortunate

be brand-conscious consumers, we must

than us?

Celebrities, legislators, activists and other guests at the opening

admit that shopping is a necessity. So, what does shopping mean to us? Is it a

About 27,000 Fair Trade products are

therapeutic activity? A channel to exercise

sold in more than 70 countries around

our power within the marketplace? Our

the world; these products are categorised

contribution to making a fairer economy?

into 20 product groups – from sports

A way to promote a sustainable livelihood

balls to rice, chocolate to tea, cotton to

for people in developing countries?

wine, honey to coffee. Actually, all but a few of these categories (flowers/plants,

The Hong Kong Ecological Footprint

fresh fruit and fresh bananas) are sold

Report 2010 recently announced that

in Hong Kong, with Fair Trade coffee,

if everyone in the world lived a lifestyle

tea and chocolate forming the majority

similar to ours in Hong Kong, we would

of sales. Fair Trade goods are sold or

need the equivalent resources of 2.2

served at 110 outlets across town, but

machines at schools and stocked in

planets. If we cannot cut down on our

many consumers are only aware of the

company pantries. Fair Trade education

consumption, the very least we should

goods at chain stores, such as Marks and

can be incorporated into the teaching

do is to support our world and the

Spencer and Starbucks. Some may argue

curricula. If all children grow up with

environment through our consumption

that convenience is ‘king’ when it comes

the belief that it is ‘normal’ to buy Fair

habits. Fair Trade is an option.

to shopping, but we often go out of our

Trade products, together they can be an

way to hunt down the best cup of coffee

influential social force that rewrites the

S u p porting Fair Trade through our

or dessert in town, so why not extend the

future of the Fair Trade market in Hong

purchasing behaviour is a way to promote

effort to Fair Trade? Who knows, perhaps

Kong, and ultimately those of producers

a fairer economy for people in developing

if more of us buy Fair Trade, our demand

in developing countries.

countries, where shopping is probably

can encourage more stores, such as

considered a luxury. A large majority of us

ParknShop and Wellcome, to stock it on

knows that Fair Trade means a fairer price

their shelves, at all of their locations.

for farmers and workers in developing countries, but it goes beyond that. When

Based on my interviews with Hong Kong

we purchase Fair Trade products, we

consumers, the reason people do not

are also supporting labour rights, a

know much about Fair Trade is due to a

cleaner environment, stable contracts,

lack of education. I certainly did not learn

and democracy, among other things.

about Fair Trade until a few years ago,

Our chocolate will not be coming from

when I stumbled across Oxfam Hong

cocoa plantations where there is bonded

Kong, one of the few organisations here

or illegal child labour. Our bananas will

which promotes Fair Trade.

Children learn what Fair (and unfair) Trade mean

You can find Fair Trade products here: http://www.fairtradehk.org/?page_id=601&lang=en While working as a volunteer at a coffee plantation in Costa Rica, Sharon Poon became concerned with poverty among labourers. She holds a Master of Social Sciences in Corporate Environmental Governance from The University of Hong Kong. She came into contact Sharon Poon with Oxfam Hong Kong while doing research on Fair Trade in Hong Kong and the potential of branding to increase support of Fair Trade. She submitted this article to O.N.E for publication.

not be loaded with prohibited pesticides. Farmers will certainly receive more than

To increase public awareness, we can

HK$0.10 for HK$20 worth of coffee. The

do a lot more. For example, Fair Trade

Fair Trade price includes an amount

snacks can be included in vending





Every day, Oxfam Hong Kong works alongside hundreds of groups around the world, from small NGOs to international bodies, from government departments of developing countries to community groups based in Hong Kong.



CHINA VOICES Speak Out Against Poverty in Mainland China

Here are 8 ‘partner organisations’ that we are supporting for the first time.

HONG KONG • African Studies Programme, University of Hong Kong


Gansu • • Guizhou • Sichuan • Yunnan • • VIETNAM •

Education Department of Huan County, Qingyang City Committee of Communist Youth League, Huan County, Qingyang City Education, Science and Technology Bureau, Zheng’an County Poverty Alleviation and Development Office of Cang Xi County, Guangyuan City Gongshan County Poverty Alleviation Office Women’s Federation of Longyang District, Baoshan City Avao People's Committee, Quang Tri Province

In this edition of O.N.E, we highlight the Education, Science and Technology Bureau of Zheng’an County, a government department in the province of Guizhou, in southwest China. The Bureau is mainly responsible for the development of education in Zheng’an, including basic educa ti o n a s w e l l a s occupational, adult, pre-school and special education. It promotes universal education for all residents (nine years of schooling), works to reduce illiteracy among teenagers, and inspects and assesses schools at all levels.

The Bureau is working alongside Oxfam Hong Kong to provide teacher training in Xiaoya Township, located 67 kilometres from the county seat. Currently, there are 150 teachers in the township, some of whom lack academic qualifications or teacher training. They may not be aware of the new curriculum or teaching techniques. In general, the government’s teacher training programmes have concentrated in urban areas, not rural ones such as Xiaoya. The programme trains teachers who can then train others. There are four scheduled training sessions, with a follow-up session for participants afterwards.

Oxfam Hong Kong has launched a book of stories and photographs that features the views and accounts of people whom Oxfam has met in 23 years of anti-poverty work in Mainland China. The publication depicts the lives of farmers, women, migrant workers, ethnic minorities and community workers in China’s impoverished rural areas. Available at Swindon Books, Kubrick Book Stores, Relay, Dymocks, CUHK Press, Times Publishing, Hong Kong Readers, MCCM Creations, Xiyao Book Store and Oxfam’s online shop at www.oxfam.org.hk

Oxfam and CSR Conference 2011


Oxfam Hong Kong’s Director General John Sayer will be a guest speaker at an upcoming conference on corporate social responsibility, which we have been promoting in Hong Kong for many years.

Oxfam News E-magazine is published every two months, at www.oxfam.org.hk/ONE. To receive a copy in your inbox, please subscribe – it is FREE. www.oxfam.org.hk/one/subscribe.html

CSR Conference 2011, MBA Programme of The Chinese University of Hong Kong 11 May 2011, 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, Wanchai, Hong Kong Oxfam donors and volunteers are entitled to a 20% discount on the admission fee. For more information visit http://cumbacsr.baf.cuhk.edu.hk/guest.html

O.N.E (Oxfam News E-magazine) is published every two months by Oxfam Hong Kong, 17th Floor, China United Centre, 28 Marble Road, North Point, Hong Kong. The publisher does not necessarily endorse v i e w s e x p r e s s e d b y c o n t r i b utors. For permission to reprint articles, please contact us; normally, we grant permission provided the source is clearly acknowledged. O.N.E is available free to all, in both an HTML and PDF version, and in Chinese and English.

Working with people against poverty www.oxfam.org.hk |

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