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The story of ManjitKaur and empowering Punjab’s women domestic workers

Published on: Thursday, 28th June 2018

Poverty pushed ManjitKaur, from NangalKhurd village in Mansa district, Punjab, into domestic work at the house of a local landlord. Manjit would usually spend some 4 hours every day cleaning the landlord’s house, washing dishes and clothes, and tending to their animals. And all that she would get at the end of the month was Rs. 200!

Rural Human Development Center (RHDC) has been working with our North Regional Office since 2015 and is engaged with the Dalit women doing domestic work in 60 villages of Mansa, Patiala and Sangrur districts of Punjab. Over the span of our intervention so far, we have been able to bring together over a thousand such women, raising awareness among them on issues of bondage and minimum wage, and mobilizing them for their rights and entitlements. RHDC, with active support from our colleagues, organized regular meetings to sensitize community members on issues such as minimum wage and government entitlements.

“It was through ActionAid and RHDC that we first learnt that we are entitled to Rs. 32 per hour of our work. Only then did we start asking our employers to increase our pay,” says Manjit, further adding, “ActionAid and RHDC also supported us in applying for various government schemes.”

As a result of our intervention and the efforts of women like Manjit, 706 domestic workers are now part of village-level groups and over a thousand of them have applied for social security schemes and entitlements. Manjit’s pay has increased substantially, but more needs to be done to get the domestic workers in Punjab their just dues.

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