Garment factories are plentiful in Rawalpindi streets. Mostly, they are found in Mohallahs. Nazia enjoys a high regard from her family members for her dedication to work. In the factory at Sultanpura, she has become a model employee. She earns Rs20000 a month, which is a good addition to Rs10,000 her husband gets a month now. "Ours is a contented family. Our combined income is very well to run the family. Our daughter and son go to school," says 25-year-old Nazia, sitting outside her rented one-room house.
Nazia is happy because her days nine years ago were really hard. Getting into marriage wedlock quite early, she at all times remained at odd with her husband’s earnings, just jobless then. The situation had gone from bad to worse after their daughter was born. "That was the time when we used to be concerned about our future a lot. Those were the days when we could not purchase milk for our kid," she says recollecting her not easy days.
Nazia attributes the betterment in her living condition to the hard work she does. These street garment factories employ thousands of people, most of them women like Nazia. “Without the job my family would have remained starved,” she adds.
The majority of the garment workers are women. This is a bright side of the story. But the dark side is that women are paid less than what is given to male workers in wages, even though they work the same hours. The disparity in wages between male and female garment workers is fairly disheartening. Female workers’ wages are much lower than the wages of the male workers.
The high positions in garment factories such as cutter, supervisor, operator and iron-person are usually reserved for male workers. This has led to the disparity in wages for male and female workers. Female workers suffer the wage disparity even though they are more committed to work.
A factory owner says, "We prefer female workers than the male workers. Women are more dependable." Nonetheless, they are deprived of fair wages for the reason they are humble not conceited, because they don’t by and large complain like men.
It’s right the street garment factories provide the poor women with jobs and security, but it is also a fact that these female workers deserve much more than they get in return for their hard work. Facilities for the female workers are in short supply. For example, they are left on their own to return home by public transport after work. There is no arrangement for their transportation. Anyhow, it is a good sign they earn an income, which enables them to live well.