A million tonnes of cotton are hand-picked by women and girls every year in Pakistan’s ‘cotton belt’. Despite their evident contribution to the economy, the pickers’ fates remain invisible in the daily headlines on cotton production as well as in academic research. The present article tries to address this blind spot while focussing on the working conditions of Pakistani cotton pickers. It investigates the determinants of their work, wages and occupational safety and health, and questions whether the link with the global cotton chain benefits labourers in Pakistan’s cotton fields