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Supporting Domestic Workers; Strengthening Grassroot Feminism

The project “Supporting Domestic Workers: Strengthening Grassroot Feminism” is funded by   Women Fund Asia aims at organizing domestic workers at the community level in different district of Punjab. The purpose of this project is organizing awareness sessions on labor rights, decent work and minimum wages, facilitate legal registration of domestic workers, and provide legal assistance to workers facing exploitation.

WISE is undertaking capacity-strengthening training for domestic workers so that they are able to negotiate better working conditions and work towards strengthening the implementation of the Punjab Domestic Workers’, Act 2019. Through this work, we aim to target the invisibilities and devaluation of domestic workers in Pakistan.

Accomplishments (January 2023 to March 2024):

  • Organized 240 women domestic workers into 12 groups across three districts: Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, and Lahore.
  • Conducted 70 awareness sessions, reaching 1260 domestic workers, covering topics such as the Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019, the role of helplines in addressing violence against women, and negotiation skills.
  • Engaged 686 domestic workers in 6 seminars on various occasions including International Labour Day, International Domestic Workers Day 2023, and Climate Change impact on women and vulnerable communities.
  • Mobilized 780 domestic workers in 7 walks, demonstrations, and protests advocating for various causes including implementation of minimum wage for domestic workers and ending violence against child domestic labor.
  • Facilitated 862 participants in 3 Virtual Cafes and 1 Twitter space discussing topics such as violence against domestic workers and climate change impact.
  • Organized 1 media forum with Urdu Daily Express for International Labour Day and 1 press conference with Child Rights Movement on stopping violence against child domestic labor.
  • Developed 5 flyers highlighting the importance of various topics including the Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019 and International Labour Day.
  • Provided legal assistance to 11 domestic workers.
  • Supported the strengthening of 3 registered Domestic Workers Unions including Women Domestic Workers Union Punjab, Parkash Domestic Workers Union (East) and Layalpur Domestic Workers Union (West), Faisalabad. And established the Women Domestic Workers Union Punjab office in Egerton Road, Lahore.
  • Drafted rules of business for the implementation of the Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019.
  • Conducted a situational analysis on the Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019.
  • Created a booklet documenting the transformation journey of domestic workers.
  • To build the capacity of the domestic workers, four training workshops were organized on “Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019 – Review and Reflection”, Women Leadership and Negotiation skills”, “Safeguarding and Pro-Women Laws in Pakistan”, “Psycho-Social Well-Being and Stress Management” and “Exposure Visit for members of domestic workers unions”. A total 242 women domestic workers, involving; a) Lyallpur Domestic Workers union (West), b) Parkash Domestic Workers union (East), c) Sitara Domestic Workers Union, Toba Tek Singh and d) Women Domestic Workers Union, Punjab from the targeted districts of Lahore, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad and Toba Tek Singh and community focal persons joined these training workshop
  • In district Lahore, WISE established learning centers in four areas: Kot Lakhpat, Township, Rewaz Garden, and Boota Park Shahdara. These centers have been operational since October 2023, with 80 women domestic workers enrolled in basic literacy classes. This initiative underscores WISE’s dedication to promoting literacy and education among women, fostering their empowerment and skill development within these communities.
  • In Faisalabad, a Stakeholders Consultation on the “Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019 – Progress and Way Forward” was organized. The event witnessed the participation of 51 attendees, comprising government representatives, labor unions, media personnel, civil society representatives, and women domestic workers from four districts.

Legislative Achievements:

  • Minimum Wage Notification: In November 2023, The Govt. of Punjab issued a Minimum Wage Notification, after discussions and negotiations with employers. This notification, in accordance with Section 17 of the Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019, empowers the declaration of minimum wage rates for domestic workers. The specified rates are as follows:
  1.  Rs.32,000/- per month (for 26 working days)
  2.  Rs. 1230.77 per day (for 8 working hours)
  3.  Rs.153.84 per hour
  • The formulation of Rules of Business has been completed and is awaiting cabinet approval. These rules are integral for facilitating the application and enforcement of legal provisions. They outline the establishment of committees, policies, and mechanisms, creating a structured system for effective implementation of the law. This strategic approach aims to ensure the formation of committees that will play a crucial role in enforcing the law efficiently.
  • PESSI Regulations: A positive amendment is currently being discussed regarding the regulations of the Punjab Employees Social Security Institution (PESSI) concerning the registration of Domestic Workers. The proposed amendment suggests that for registration with PESSI and qualification for the social security card, employers would be required to contribute a one-time fee of Rs. 5000, while employees would contribute Rs. 300 per month.

Support Initiatives:

  • The department of labor has established a helpline 1314 for the domestic
  • The Women Domestic Workers Union, Punjab, formed by WISE, has also established special desk to address the urgent complaints of the women domestic

Empowerment of Workers:

  • The registration of the Women Domestic Workers Union – Punjab has been accomplished with the Labor Department, marking it as the 2nd-ever union of its kind in the region.