Maids (Masi) in Pakistan are a $16 Billion Help

This assured revenue stream is one of the buoyancy the country’s economy has that advanced nations up north don’t have

IRSHAD SALIM — And they are taken care of completely by the society akin to providing “guaranteed jobs” sans unemployment and health coverage related deductions from their paycheck.

This practice is culture driven for ages in the region, and an attribute of the value system that includes taking care of one’s grandparents –even in most cases the extended family.

36m households are served by this huge community of homeworkers (overwhelmingly women) whose number is also 36m. Here’s how:

With a population of 217m (2019 estimate), and 6 members in every household, the total number of households equals 36m.

Approx. a team of 3 helping hands (maid aka Masi) daily are engaged to take care of household chores (dusting & cleaning, washing dishes, washing/ironing linen. This trio covers on an average 3 homes every day.

In the urban (40% of the entire population), the number of helping hands is higher: a driver, a chowkidar (guard), a gardener, helping hand for cooking, etc. are additional. Total: 7. Assuming 70% probability that almost every household has such an arrangement, the number comes out to be approx. 5 persons.

In the rural (60% of the entire population), the number is lower: approx. 2.

Assuming 70% probability that almost every household in rural has such an arrangement, the number comes out to be 1 person.

The average number between urban and rural therefore equals 3.

These 3 people serve 36m households daily and covering 3 daily. In other words, 12m homes are served by the set of 3 people daily across the country.

The total number of these helping hands is therefore: 3 x 12 = 36m –nearly 17% of the population. A huge informal labor sector that is kept engaged by the populace rain or sunshine.

This huge community of helping hands is taken care of 100 percent by the society on its own in Pakistan — unlike abroad, where there are unemployment and health coverage for such help as part of their employment.

The Pakistani community wholesomely provides them the safety net and the “guaranteed job” without tax withholding and deductions.

Unemployment rate of this community is near to zero, with medium to high mobility between jobs and the demand for help has kept the wages going up in the urban.

How huge is this community financially, economically?

Approx, each of its member’s take home monthly wage is Rs6000 per each household served. That equals to: PKR6000 x 3 x 12m = 216bn Pak Rupee. And that’s every month. Yearly, that amounts to PKR 2.6 trillion.

In dollars (@Rs160 – US$1), the total is a whopping $16.25 billion community which participates along with the daily wage labors, etc. (informal economy) to lubricate the country’s overall economy. All this the society does without bothering the government and the state for a payback– charity and Zakat notwithstanding.

This community is generally classed as belonging to the low income group.

Yet, the assured service by the society in keeping this community engaged, and the assured revenue stream (cash) this community has and adds to the consumer base, is one of the buoyancy (takeaway) the country’s economy has that advanced nations up north don’t have.

For the local and multinationals (specially FMCGs) and fast food outlets, this community albiet consumer base is money in the bank.

The writer is an Islamabad-based business consultant, advisor and analyst.

All figures are rounded off.