Early every day, groups of women dressed in vividly colored overcoats muster in two locations in Kokand, a city in Uzbekistan’s Ferghana Valley.
Throughout the morning, they are picked up, either alone or in small groups, by people looking for extra hands to do some construction work or farming. The money they get for their efforts is a precious lifeline in a region where unemployment is pervasive.
Mardikor is a composite Persian word that stands for a day laborer. Mardikors are traditionally a strictly male class, but with the economy in an unremitting funk, women are also resorting to this day-laboring way of life.
Nafisa is 40 years old and has only a basic education. Her husband scrapes together some occasional work in the city’s central market, but with four children to feed, his income does not meet all their needs. “Usually they hire us for farming work – digging and weeding plots and orchards, gathering fruit on private plots or farms, cleaning manure from cattle sheds. The standard fee is [around $5] for a day’s work,” Nafisa told EurasiaNet.org.
To read the full story