Bhanu Ben Jadav earns her daily wage by stringing beads together into necklaces. She lives in Vasant Nagar, a slum in Ahmedabad in western India. She earns around 2,500 rupees, or $30 a month, to feed her family, but the work requires patience, concentration, and cool weather—which has, of late, become near-impossible with the mercury reaching 46°C (114.8°F) this week. In recent days, at least 96 people have died from the sweltering heat in two of India’s most populous states.
“I get headaches, nausea, and vomiting, and my capacity to work shrinks,” 44-year-old Jadav tells TIME over the phone. “I lose so much in this extreme heat.”
Women like Jadav make up 65% of the world’s home-based workforce, which consists of informal workers who produce goods or services in or near their homes for local, domestic, or global markets. Around 42 million of these workers are in India. Now they are bearing the brunt of deadly heat waves across South Asia, which experts say could halt or even reverse India’s progress in reducing poverty, food and income security, and gender equality.
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