After the recent protests in front of the Punjab Assembly held by hundreds of women health workers and health supervisors, there is no doubt remaining about the fact that the condition of workers’ rights in a supposedly flourishing province is still stagnant, if not downright deplorable. Led by Rukhsana Anwar and Noreen Munawar, women workers hailing predominantly from the health sector stated their complaints in front of a deaf Punjab Assembly: Demands included regularization of services, conveyance for women workers and a stipend for duty performance during anti-polio and dengue campaigns while many woeful workers complained about delayed salaries; a reality that no longer surprises the common Pakistani.

Whether it is local women’s health workers and supervisors or women in export processing zones, the truth of the matter is that 70 to 90 percent of the total labor force in Asia, Latin America and Africa is under-paid female labor. The jobs they are offered are increasingly unstable and unregulated while the environment they work within impacts their health in multiple ways, often irreparably damaging them. In addition to being denied regular pay and regular working hours, women workers frequently deal with sexual abuse, health hazards and egregious discrimination by their male colleagues and employers. In our own country, labor unions have tirelessly raised these ethical concerns but in vain.

After the demonstration officials stated as they always do, that they maintain “immense respect” for LHWs and LHSs and that “efforts would be made for resolving their problems” but anyone well-versed with how things are run in the land of the pure already knows how hollow these words ring. Both federal and provincial governments owe all workers dignified and stable employment without precarity. It should be obvious to our self-proclaimed caretakers that these are fellow human beings, not mules.