For millions of women in Pakistan, the line between their home and their workplace is blurred. “Our homes are used as a factory,” Zehra Khan, the General Secretary of the Home Based Women Workers Federation says. “Many women are engaged with this – and their children also, their mothers, their elder sisters.” Home is where they craft bangles, stitch beads on garments, assemble electronics and toys, and package and label products. Over half of these home-based workers are based in Southeast Asia, and 80% of them are women. They form the foundation of not only national but global economies, with the fruits of their labor often travelling all the way back up global supply chains to large corporations in Europe and North America.
But because they are women, and doing this work at home and out of public view, not only do their contributions go undervalued, but their rights as workers are denied – in fact, they are not even recognized as workers under the law in the first place.