International Domestic Workers’ Day: A Testimony from Pakistan

I am Fatima Hussain from Pakistan. I am 24 years old. I live in Lahore. I applied for many jobs in different factories but in vain. In our society, it doesn’t look good for a girl to have a job, people don’t like women workers.

I ended up deciding to work as a domestic worker because it is easier to get a job in this sector. But domestic workers are not paid well. They are paid PKR 1,500 per home (US$ 15). I was very disappointed by the low pay and the volume of extra work. I had to fulfill tasks that were not related to my job.

One day I met the YCW – that was a very beautiful day. In a meeting, I shared my experience as a domestic worker and the extra work.

We as YCW group wrote a letter to the Labor Council and requested it to increase my wage and make restrictions for no extra work for domestic workers. After a month, the management of the housing society where I work received a letter from the Labor Council saying that domestic workers had to be paid PKR 2,000 per home (US$ 20) instead of 1,500 and could not be given extra work. Now I earn PKR 8,000 for 4 homes. Although it is not enough to meet my daily needs, I am very happy and I attend the YCW meetings on a regular basis, hoping that I can do something more to change my life and that of other workers.

I dream of prosperity and peace for my country, with equal rights and no gender discrimination. I want to be recognized as a worker just like my counterparts working in factories and hospitals. I would also like to have social protection like pension when I retire, but most of all I want better wages and proper terms of work.”

This is the story of Fatima. Today is her day: 16th June is the International Day of Domestic Workers! Did you know this?

On this occasion, the IYCW expresses its solidarity with all domestic workers around the world. We are united in a common struggle. 67 million people globally, 83% of whom are women and girls[1], are employed as domestic workers in private households, not counting child domestic workers. Many of them are systematically discriminated, harassed, exploited and abused mentally, physically and sexually at work and in the society, as our International Council 2016 stated in its International Plan of Action. They face working hours as long as 14 hours a day and 7 days a week. Many of them work informally. It is not unusual that domestic workers migrate to another country and cannot leave it because their documents are confiscated by their employers.

There is also child domestic work! According to the International Labor Organization, 17.2 million children are domestic workers, while undetermined numbers of children are in domestic work as a result of forced labor and trafficking. Very often, this goes along with unhealthy working conditions as well as mental, physical and/or sexual abuse. Child domestic work affects all regions of the world![2]

This situation is clearly not acceptable. It is in contradiction with human rights, workers’ rights, children’s rights, the common values and the gospel. Young workers are worth more than all the gold in the world!

Young women and men must be freed from sexual, mental and psychological harassment. We as young workers demand respect for our right to just work and dignified life! This includes decent living income, free quality and progressive education, free and transformative social protection and the right to organize!

We demand all workers’ rights for domestic workers, including holiday entitlement and rest at weekends, a maximum number of daily working hours, fair wages and the right and possibility to organize! Stop gender discrimination at workplaces and in society. Abolish child domestic work. Conduct investigations and sanction with penalties those who enslave people by taking their passports!

For Just work, Equality and Dignified Life for all young workers!


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