Most middle and upper class families employ maids in Pakistan. Although these women are working, the environment they work in does not really do much to empower them. Hired below minimum wage with no respect for labour laws, it is no wonder that so many cases of domestic help being abused are routinely discovered. The 20th of this month has been designated as World Social Justice Day, and in light of that, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), along with the Punjab Women Development Department (PWDD) is providing training to domestic workers and then assigning them jobs in households.
While the effort must be applauded, one can only wonder if this training will actually help improve the conditions of the work environment for these women. One of the biggest issues for these women is that they do not get nearly enough money for the work they do. Half of them have full time jobs at rich households and then come back home and do the same work all over again for free, with no freedom in using the money earned. What sort of training are the ILO and the PWDD planning to give to these women that will empower them when they will still be working in houses? How will their rights be safeguarded after the training process? Why will people want to hire ‘trained’ domestic workers for a higher price if they have cheaper alternatives available?
Both organizations claim that this training will improve the employability and the working and living conditions of women, but they fail to mention how this will be practically implemented. The plight of domestic workers is linked directly to the mindsets of the people who employ them, and though a stand taken by one side will help the situation, it is the attitude towards servitude that is most in need of reform. Targeting this modern form of slavery is what World Social Justice Day is all about. The labour laws of minimum wage and protection from abuse at work are only there in name. Alternative means of employment for these women after training would be a better way to tackle the problem, instead of sending them back into the houses that sustain the cycles of abuse.