Giving rights and a voice to domestic workers

There are at least 53 million domestic workers worldwide, 83 per cent of whom are women. In Latin America and the Caribbean, approximately 17 million women are domestic workers. 78 per cent are in the informal economy.

People somehow think that because domestic workers work in private homes, they’re not part of public policy. We need a mind change, that’s the first step.

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General

Red de Mujeres LatinoamericanasThe region is a pioneer in the ratification of the Domestic Workers’ Convention, 2011 (No. 189). Uruguay was the first country to ratify it, followed by Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guyana, Nicaragua and Paraguay. In Uruguay the ILO provided technical comments during parliamentary meetings and worked with the tripartite Committee on Equal Opportunities. In Brazil the ILO facilitated dialogue between constituents and other stakeholders, which contributed to the enactment of a constitutional reform establishing equal labour rights for domestic workers. In Argentina a new law defined domestic workers’ rights at work, including overtime pay, sick leave and maternity leave.

Regional networks for domestic workers were supported by the ILO. Within CARICOM the Caribbean Domestic Workers’ Network was launched. The network contributed to the ratification of the Convention in Guyana; the formation of a Domestic Workers Section in the Antigua Trades and Labour Union of Antigua and Barbuda, which serves both local and migrant domestic workers; and the establishment of a self-help information service in Guyana.