Organizing Women Domestic Workers for Basic Rights

The Situation: In Pakistan, domestic work is an unregulated, unorganized and undervalued form of employment. Current legislation excludes domestic workers from the legal definition of ‘worker’, and so they work without basic benefits such as holidays, maternity leave or sick pay. In 2011, violence against women domestic workers increased dramatically in Khyber Pakhtunkwa, with cases ranging from instances of false accusation to theft and rape. In the absence of a legislative framework and legal system for complaints, domestic workers could not claim their rights before their employers.

The Rapid Response: Iris Development Organization (IDO)’s mission is to inform and encourage Indigenous women’s full participation in decision-making processes that affects their lives, children and communities. After meeting with women domestic workers in Abbottabad, IDO recognized the need to organize the first Support Group/Union to assist women domestic workers with their cases and reduce instances of violence. IDO used Urgent Action Fund support to form and register the Support Group/Union, hold rights trainings for women domestic workers to increase their awareness of their rights, and conduct a campaign to collect signatures from domestic workers to be presented to the Ministry of Labour calling for recognition of their rights.

The Impact: The final report for IDO is expected in late 2012.