E-discussion on: Domestic Workers Count Too



Please note that the e-discussion has now been closed. To read the consolidated reply, please click here.

Domestic Workers Count Too: Visibilising and Protecting Women Migrant Domestic Workers through Legal and Social Protections


In collaboration with UN Women in New York and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the EC-UN Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) is pleased to present this e-discussion on “Domestic Workers Count Too: Visibilising and Protecting Women Migrant Domestic Workers through Legal and Social Protections”. This discussion is formally launched today on 8 March 2011 to celebrate International Women’s Day. Dr Jean D’Cunha, UN Women’s Global Migration Adviser, together with Maya Gurung, a domestic worker and member of Pourakhi (an organization of returnee women migrant workers in Nepal) guest launch the e-discussion.


Please access the background paper to this discussion here.


Worldwide, many migrant women and girls, especially from developing countries, are employed as domestic workers. Conservative estimates from the ILO suggest that there are at least 112 million domestic workers from twenty-nine countries in the world’s five regions – Asia, Africa, Oceania, the Americas and Europe. Despite its importance to development, domestic work is not considered formal employment because of its private nature and because it carries the low value of women’s unpaid care work, often perceived as innate to women’s nature and being. As a result, domestic workers are subject to a range of social and legal human rights violations.


Maya Gurung, a domestic worker and member of Pourakhi, a Nepal-based organization founded in 2003 to advocate for women migrant workers’ rights with support from UN Women, has kindly agreed to co-launch this e-discussion by sharing her experience. She writes:


I am Maya Gurung from Nepal, a returnee women migrant worker [who was employed as a domestic worker in] a Gulf country. Before going into foreign employment, I worked in a day care center in my village. I was forced to migrate for work to pay off debts. I left behind my young son and daughter, husband & in-laws and went to a Gulf country as a housemaid after paying US$ 500 to [an employment] agent.


I went to the Gulf country via New Delhi without any papers, training, or the address of my employer. When I reached the airport, I was taken to an agency where I was informed that I would be given 35 dinar (US$ 125) per month.  My employer kept my passport and other documents. I had to take care of a big, three-storey house with five family members and many relatives who would stay there. My main duties were cleaning, washing and ironing clothes, preparing food and taking care of children from early in the morning to late at night (5 am to 1 am). I was not allowed to rest and my only meals were leftovers from my employer’s plate, which I could not eat.  So I survived on bread and black tea for 15 days.


After that I was placed by my agent with another employer. I used to receive only 10 or 15 dinar (US$ 50) per month instead of 35 (which I would often spend to make phone calls to my children).  After 11 months, I left with nothing. I found out that my fellow villagers/relatives were also living in that country. One of these relatives was an employment agent, so I used to live with them and cook, clean and attend to other Nepali housemaids. These fellow villagers never paid me a penny, or tried to find any work for me…Desperate, I made a complaint to the police for help as I had no access to an embassy. Instead of justice, I was convicted and sentenced to a jail term of 2 years….


Finally, I came in contact with a Nepali worker who facilitated my deportation with the help of the Nepali Embassy in Saudi Arabia. I returned to Nepal after serving 14 months in prison….my bills were piling up when I was approached by Pourakhi. Pourakhi provided me with a shelter and paralegal help….Now I am a Pourakhi member, I see a ray of hope in my life. I have been working in Pourakhi's training center for the past three months…. I was able to share my experience at the Global Forum for Migration and Development in Mexico in 2010 with the help of Pourakhi and UN Women. Since then, I feel much more empowered and confident. Now I feel that I have to help Pourakhi advocate for the rights of domestic workers and women migrant workers.


Maya’s story illustrates the abuse, discrimination and exclusion from legal and social protections faced by many domestic workers. Empowering workers like Maya involves catalysing a gender-sensitive policy and institutional environment and strengthening the capacity of women migrant workers to claim their rights and celebrate their economic and social contributions to development.


We would like to address the following questions during this e-discussion:


Week One

  1. What are the key obstacles to formulating and implementing legal and social protections for domestic workers?
  2. How can international agencies, policy-makers, civil society organizations, academics and activities working for domestic workers, address these obstacles?


Week Two:

  1. Can you identify and briefly discuss good practices in formulating and implementing legal and social protections for local and migrant domestic workers?
  2. What factors contributed to the success of these good practices?


Week Three

  1. How can existing good practices be up-scaled, modified and replicated elsewhere? Please provide examples.  


We warmly encourage members to forward this message to your networks and invite them to contribute also. The e-discussion will run for three weeks from 8 March to 30 March 2011. Please participate by emailing m4d@groups.dev-nets.org or by posting your comments online in the Migration4Development forum here. Please note that responses are not automatically shared but go to the facilitation teams for compilation.


The results of this e-discussion will be presented in a consolidated reply. We look forward to a rich and active discussion. Thank you for your participation!


The M4D-net Facilitation Team, UN Women and IOM

Dear Ray

Many thanks for your interest in this e-discussion!

Please share with us your research experience on migrant domestic workers in Lebanon and Egypt - in particular we would like to hear your thoughts on the questions raised in week 1:

  1. What are the key obstacles to formulating and implementing legal and social protections for domestic workers?
  2. How can international agencies, policy-makers, civil society organizations, academics and activities working for domestic workers, address these obstacles?

Also, please sign up for a profile on migration4development.org by clicking here . To receive responses from other members of the Community of Practice click here.

Thank you,

Oliver Hudson

JMDI M4D net Facilitator


Dear Members of the M4D community,

At its 301st Session (March 2008), the ILO Governing Body decided to place an item on the agenda of the 99th Session (2010) of the International Labour Conference with a view to setting standards on decent work for domestic workers. 

The first discussion on the question concerning decent work for domestic workers with a view to elaborating new instruments on decent work for domestic workers took place at the 99th Session (2010) of the Conference. Following that discussion, the International Labour Office (the “Office”) prepared and communicated Report IV(1)1 containing a proposed Convention supplemented by a Recommendation based on the Conclusions adopted by the Conference at its 99th Session.

In accordance with ILO procedures, governments were invited to send, after consulting the most representative organizations of employers and workers, their suggested amendments or comments. Governments were also requested to inform the Office, whether they considered that the proposed texts provide a satisfactory basis for discussion by the Conference at its 100th Session (June 2011) and to indicate which organizations they had consulted. The results of the consultations should be reflected in the governments’ replies. Last week (March 2011) the Office released a Report IV (2B) containing the English and French version of the proposed texts, c, amended in the light of the observations made by governments and by employers’ and workers’ organizations. At the time of drafting of this report, the Office had received replies from constituents from 93 member States. It is worth highlighting the uniqueness of the ILO tripartite negotiation process.

The proposed norms reaffirm the protections to which domestic workers are already entitled to under existing ILO standards, while recognizing their special employment relationship and providing for specific standards to make these rights a reality. The decision to discuss such a norm on decent work for domestic workers reflects the ILO’s commitment, as embedded in its Decent Work Agenda, to bring workers once deemed to be outside its constituency into its mainstream work. It recognizes that domestic workers are real workers and takes account of the fact that the overwhelming majority of domestic workers in the globalizing economy are women.

Mobilisation of all actors is greatly contributing to promoting discussion and exchange of knowledge and experience from different parts of the globe, so that a new international instrument is designed to effectively respond to the needs of this category of workers and finally recognise their labour rights. ILO tripartite constituents around the world are feeding the process and campaigning for the adoption of such convention.

The recently released report and other information on decent work for domestic workers, including research documents, technical cooperation projects, campaign materials, etc can be found on this web site: https://www.ilo.org/travail/areasofwork/lang--en/WCMS_DOC_TRA_ARE_DOM_EN/index.htm

Kind regards

Maria Gallotti Migration Policy Specialist ILO Brussels

Dear M4D Community of Practice,

DIVERSITIES Female Migration Outcomes: Human Rights Perspectives

This is to inform e-discussion followers of a recent UNESCO publication on the human rights of migrant women for free download at www.unesco.org/shs/diversities.

Diversities, Vol. 13, No 1, 2011, "Female Migration Outcomes: Human Rights Perspectives".

Diversities is a scholarly and professional journal, published jointly by UNESCO and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, to provide a platform for international, interdisciplinary and policy-related social science research in the fields of migration, multicultural policies, and human rights.

The issue is dedicated to female migration outcomes and was published this year on the occasion of International Women’s Day (8 March). Guest Editors were Nicola Piper and Amber French.

Diversities is a continuation of the International Journal on Multicultural Societies (IJMS), which is published by UNESCO since 1999.


How do women benefit from migration? This special issue of Diversities is focused on how migrant women fare in terms of human rights, gender justice and gender empowerment. The Journal takes an innovative human rights based approach in defining migration outcomes beyond the more conventional economic approach. Papers in the issue provide a broad geographic perspective, including migration following the Haiti earthquake in 2010, South-South migration in Latin America, and migration from Africa to Europe. Data and analysis is provided on the way to measure the outcomes of migration for female migrants in gender equality terms.


• Do Women Benefit From Migration? An Editorial Introduction, by Nicola Piper, Arnold Berstraesser Institute, Germany, and Amber French, UNESCO

• Peruvian Domestic Workers in Chile: The Migrant Experience and Migrant Rights, by Claudia Mora, Alberto Hurtado University, Chile, and Nicola Piper

• Transnational Migration & Changing Gender Relations in Peruvian & Bolivian Cities, by Tanja Bastia (University of Manchester) and Erika Busse (University of Minnesota)

• Social Change and Female Involvement: Sinthiane’s Associations at Home and Abroad, by Georgia Barbara Jettinger (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, Chad)

• Measuring Women’s Empowerment through Migration, by Amie Gaye and Shreyasi Jha, Statistics Division, United Nations Development Programme

• Shaking up the Grounds for Human Trafficking on Hispaniola, by Bridget Wooding, Latin American School of Social Sciences, Dominican Republic

Amber French a.french@unesco.org www.unesco.org/shs/diversities

I would very much like to join this discussion. I have some research experience on migrant domestic workers in Lebanon and Egypt. Regards, Ray Jureidini

Dear CoP,

Thanks for the initiative. I choose to celebrate March 8 joining the e-discussion and share it with my network of Latin American people.

I think one obstacle that domestic workers face is the gender, racial/ethnic discrimination that comes attached to work that is not socially valued because it is done in a private area of life (domestic), usually done by women, and with no requirement for academic education. Everything that has no social value attached to, and the discrimination plays a role when comes to request legal and social protection. Civil society and others can address this obstacle through campaigns not only on rights but human dignity, raise awareness about the violations and abuse that migrant domestic workers suffer, challenge the racial and social paradigm attached to domestic work, build a symbolic value to domestic work not only attaching economic value but social value.

I remember when Casimira Ramirez, from Bolivia, former president of the Confederation of the Latin American domestic workers, showed us a video of a TV debate where she discussed the law the organization was pressing the state that would recognize the domestic work. In the debate we saw not only the disagreement with the law, but the hate on the words that were directed to Casimira, who is a indigenous woman in Bolivia.

Rosangela Oliveira

Dear Members,

Below are some of the obstacles to formulating and implementing legal and social protection for domestic workers:

1.      Culture and tradition of some countries can lead to such formulation to be implemented in some countries.

2.      Level of poverty contributes to implementation of such

3.      Lack of relevant information on domestic workers

4.      Access to relevant agency to give necessary information by the domestic workers

How can international agencies, policy-makers, civil society organizations, academics and activities working for domestic workers, address these obstacles?:

1.      International Agencies can help by monitoring the implementation i.e. domestication of such conventions agreed to by other countries especially developing countries.

2.      Policy makers should respect any international treaties signed on behalf of their countries.

3.      Academic organisations can research into reality of such and make literature and reports available for wider distribution.

4.      CSOs can embark on sensitization of the populace.

5.      CSOs can engage policy makers, especially law makers, to make policies that are friendly to domestic workers in their countries.

6.      Networks of practitioners on the plight of domestic workers can be formed to eradicate such in our society.

7.      Street theater can be staged in towns and villages where such practices are common to discourage such act in our society. As in the case of our own JMDI project in Nigeria and it really send the necessary message on the reality of irregular migration (N-055). For further information please see Irregular Migration: Filling the Information Gap – Migrants Aware


Lukman A. Adefolahan
Programme Officer
Childolescent and Family Survival Organisation (CAFSO)

Plot 5, Akingbade Street, Off Old Ife Road, Ibadan, Nigeria +2348027942603

Dear CoP,

The main problem that prevents the effective legal and social protection of migrant domestic workers is the very nature of the work and the 'workplace' - the home of other people!

Private homes cannot be regulated by 'policing' measures, by control. Domestic work can best be regulated by incentives. Employers who respect the law, pay welfare contributions, provide for appropriate free time, sick leave, holiday pay, need to be rewarded with tax returns (see the 'voucher' system put in place in Belgium, France and Sweden).

Receiving countries need to codify the working hours - clarify whether 'hours on call' are working hours or not, especially for live in domestic workers. Codify the nature of the job as in Italy - specifying the tasks, the hours, the minimum pay. This is a good start - but as mentioned above, to be enforced you need to motivate the employers (not just frighten them with sanctions).

Also what can be regulated by control measures is the work of 'employment agents' who operate nearly at the margins of the law, charge exorbitant fees, withhold people's documents. It may seem that the life story of the Nepalese worker in a Gulf state is 'science fiction' but such things of withholding passports and extreme exploitations have been happening in European democracies too, towards for instance central and eastern European women in the 1990s. Now of course those women who in the meantime became EU citizens because their countries joined the EU have been able to negotiate better work and life conditions because they had the EU citizen protection and could not be so easily blackmailed. But issues of abuse remain, especially towards non EU citizens who work as domestic workers in the EU.

For the social protection of the workers, the role of NGOs is crucial. NGOs need to do information campaigns, informing migrant domestic workers, in languages that they understand, about their rights and how to achieve them. NGOs and trade unions are CRUCIAL for providing legal aid in case a domestic workers is trying to get back unpaid salaries, sick pay or other money owed to them or if they need to go to court because they have been abused. Migrant domestic workers can rarely do such things by themselves or simply with the help of their family members (assuming they have any in the country of residence).

The role of lawyer associations here could be crucial too as well as that of anti discrimination bodies.

Academics and international organisations can play a role in doing comparative studies and presenting results in the media and to policy makers to highlight where the problems are, what are the dynamics, and how these problems can be addressed.

Thank you,

Anna Triandafyllidou
Professor (part time), European University Institute (EUI), Florence, Italy
Senior Fellow, Hellenic Foundation for Europea and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), Athens, Greece


Dear members of this e-discussion,

  1. What are the key obstacles to formulating and implementing legal and social protections for domestic workers?

While there are many local obstacles that others can detail, I'd like to point to the macro obstacles.  Poor women around the world are buffeted by policies that undermine their ability to earn a livelihood in their home.  After 30+ years of neo-liberal policies; over-exploitation of fossil fuels; and resource wars, we are seeing the consequences in economic impoverishment; food scarcity and rising prices of food; climate change; and war.  Each of these is forcing migration-- from rural to urban areas, and across borders.  A large percentage of domestic workers are migrant women-- internal or international migrants.  They are made vulnerable by macro policies that exploit their paid and unpaid labor without valuing them or their human rights.  Add to this the fact that race, ethnicity, caste and national origin are significant factors in who is relegated to some of the most exploitative work as domestic workers.  The historic gap between "public" and "private" spheres of work has made it hard for domestic workers to be considered workers legally and to organize with others in similar situations.  Fortunately, through amazing organizing efforts more domestic workers are joining organizations to advocate for their rights.

  1. How can international agencies, policy-makers, civil society organizations, academics and activities working for domestic workers, address these obstacles?

While it is necessary to develop specific policies to address the current needs of domestic workers-- both in sending and receiving countries-- that will guarantee their labor rights and human rights, it is also necessary to address the policies that are forcing women into exploitative situations.  These include challenges to trade policies that undermine national food sovereignty and industrial development and to PRSPs/ SAPs, or whatever the current name for austerity programs.  It includes challenges to gender stereotypes that relegate women to work only in the domestic sphere.  It includes investment in the public sector-- particularly in education and health care; it means policies that support women's role in agriculture and shore up domestic agriculture as well as job creation in jobs that pay living wages.  It means programs that acknowledge differential access to education, resources and jobs for women of oppressed racial/ethnic/caste groups, and affirmative action programs that address these imbalances. 

Of course this is vast-- but as we begin this conversation, let's not forget that creating an "enabling environment" is essential to truly address the human and labor rights of domestic workers and of all migrant women.  In Mexico at the People's Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights in 2010, Mexican colleagues spoke of "The Right to Stay."  It poses the question, "What development and rights have to be in place so that people have a choice and are not forced to migrate in search of  livelihoods and decent work?"  With this in mind, our challenge is to put in place short term micro policies, but also to keep our eyes on the macro environment that is creating a crisis of exploitation for domestic workers around the world. 

Kind regards,

Carol Barton

United Methodist Women
United States

Dear Members of this e-discussion,

Key obstacles to formulating and implementing legal and social protections for domestic workers include:

  1. Lack of political will at state and system levels. As mentioned in the background paper, domestic workers remain excluded from labour laws and social protections.  Lack of formal regulations regulating domestic migrant work . Some national labour laws exclude domestic migrant workers.
  2. Attitude: As indicated in the background paper Domestic work is not considered as work
  3. Lack of statistics - The bulk of domestic workers are undocumented. This make it difficult to extend legal and social protections
  4. Many states are not parties to international labour migration instruments some are parties but have not ratified these instruments at domestic level.

I will soon respond to the second question for week one.

Dear all at the discussion forum.

I would like to participate and I posted this contribution and I hope it reaches you,

It is great that such an important issue has been given attention and been discussed in your online form.

Domestic work has turned into becoming a  new form of slavery...there are many obstacles in implementing laws and rules for social protection, because it is difficult to situate domestic work within a framework of any sort of work that is legally binding, and I think it is high time that we start approaching the ethics of domestic work and why it does exist and how we can regulate and present disciplinary measures to avoid abuse and the enslavement of domestic workers that take place nowadays.

In my mind I have particular worries about the whole work situation and domestic workers in the wide Arab world, particularly the Gulf and Saudi Arabia - brutal crimes are committed against domestic workers on a daily basis in these countries, especially the Ethiopian and Asian workers. On a weekly basis a domestic female worker is sent back in a coffin from these states. It seems that the force of politics and the power of oil has left nations without protection or decency to acknowledge that the allies of the West have been constantly practicing discrimination, abuse and brutality against the workers from poor nations. 

These issues could be addressed by clear laws and regulations that help protect domestic workers. An agency of the UN and the international community should be active and working in protection and monitoring and regulating domestic work globally. Academic disciplines produced a robust theoretical work on domestic work as a site of abuse and as a production of a modern time slave like practices.

I hope the discussion would lead us towards directions that establish organs and bodies that can work effectively on issues of full protection for domestic workers across the globe.

Thank you again for this opportunity and I hope to read all your valuable contributions and thoughts.


Ameena Alrasheed,
Costa Rica and Leeds UK   

Dear Community members,

Some of the obstacles to formulating and implementing legal and social protection for domestic workers are:

  1. Privacy: domestic work is carried out in the privacy of homes and the law is generally reluctant to get into the private sphere of people, especially so where the migrants are afraid of speaking out.
  2. The level of poverty faced by these women from their home country makes them to see the slightest improvement on that as heaven. So poverty is a major constraint.
  3. The level of education of most migrants who work as domestic workers is next to nothing. They are therefore ill informed about their rights or what they can do to redress them when violated. It is worthy of note that poverty still plays a major role here too, this is because even when some of them know their rights and what to do, the fear of going back to a bleak future keeps them going.
  4. Lack of commitment by most countries of the world to the observance of economic, social and cultural rights.

The way forward:

  1. Civil society organizations and other stakeholders must keep up the advocacy work in this respect.
  2. In this century countries of the world must be alive to their responsibilities to their citizens as this will go a long way to reduce desperate migration.
  3. The destination countries need to do more than they are currently doing with respect to the protection of the rights of migrants.
  4. Obsolete laws needs to be revisited and made alive to the yearnings of the people.
  5. Policy makers needs to be well informed of the true situation just as they also have to look beyond their comfort zones in formulating policies.
  6. The world generally needs to act instead of paying lip service to women issues.

Olufunke Alunko-Daniels

Coventry University, UK

Dear Members of this e-discussion,

I believe that women migrant domestic workers play an active role in the labour market, since they contribute to economic and social life in receiving countries. However, their work is often invisible, particularly when they work as unpaid members in family business, as home-workers or poorly paid jobs in certain sectors.

But why are migrant women preferred as domestic workers? I think that the answer is not just the cheapness of their work, but that there are also other reasons related to the racial, sexual and domestic nature of migrant women from poor countries; it seems that they can be perceived as “subservient” or even “exotic”.

In my opinion there are three main obstacles that legislators and policy-makers need to deal with in implementing measures concerning domestic workers, particularly women. The first obstacle is related to the informal rules that govern the sector of domestic work: the low pay, the long working hours, the irregularity of the work and the consequent absence of social security cover. The second obstacle is a consequence of the fact that domestic workers are educationally disadvantaged in the secondary education system and training, and this condition obviously limits their job opportunities. The third obstacle is the risk of discrimination, not only on the ground of their gender, but also because of ethnic, racial and religious stereotypes. In fact, often there is a stratification among migrants on the grounds of nationality, religion, race and language skills that leads to different work conditions and pay (for instance, according to the study conducted by Victoria Chell “Gender-Selective Migration: Somalian and Filipina women in Rome” – in R. King and R. Black (eds.) Southern Europe and the New Immigrations, Brighton, Sussex, 1997 – Filipina women in Europe are generally viewed as the most valuable domestic workers, being Christian and well-educated, while women from African countries are often considered less valuable and therefore have less negotiating powers with their employers). This problem has arisen the debate on the issue of multiple discrimination, that refers to those situations where discrimination occurs on more than one ground. In the field of multiple discrimination, as well as in the field of domestic workers’ rights there is still a lack of legislation and public awareness both at national and international levels.

At national level, receiving countries need to implement legislation that defines what domestic work is and all the conditions related to it, such as working hours, minimum pay, and insurances, but they need also to adopt measures to promote equality of opportunities between nationals and non-nationals.

At European level, there are two main Directives adopted in 2000 (the so-called Race and Framework Directives) that deal with discrimination of third-country nationals. The entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, however, did not create new mechanisms for the implementation of non-discrimination principles, with the exception of the right of “citizens initiative” which can potentially help organizations working against discrimination or in favour of workers and women’s rights to pursue their aims. Furthermore, the Treaty does not change the status of third-country migrant workers, who are still subject to a lesser protection than EU citizens, particularly with regard to welfare rights. And of course, this situation affects especially migrant women, who are the most vulnerable subject in the context of domestic work.

A possible solution at the EU and international level could be a bilateral agreement between sending and receiving countries in order to provide a solution to improve the condition of women migrant domestic workers and to provide them with a solid legal status, including their rights to reside, work and to welfare. However, it should be noted that these agreements usually concern border control and security measures more than human and social rights.

The role played by academic and researchers in the field of migration has become particularly important in the last few years and its relevance is strictly related to the implementation of migration policies. For instance, the European Commission has founded a Programme of migration-related research through the Research Framework Programmes to complement the work of the European Migration Network, which carries out studies and provides information on migration at national, EU and international level, mainly to inform policy makers, but also to achieve a better understanding of migration-related issues, such as the rights of migrants in receiving countries.

Also NGOs and international organizations play an important role, not only in promoting women migrant workers’ rights, in informing workers about their rights and in sensitizing public awareness on this issue (campaigning), but also in influencing the decision-making process (lobbying).

Finally, the different initiatives undertaken by migrant women themselves should also be considered, since they could represent the means to stimulate the debate over migrant workers’ rights and to discuss the future prospects of their integration in the host society.

Serena Natile,



Dear M4D Net CoP,

Please find below  the Gender, Migration and Development Programme’s (UN Women Santo Domingo) contribution to the discussion “Domestic Workers Count Too”: Visibilising and Protecting Women Migrant Domestic Workers through Legal and Social Protections.

What are the key obstacles to formulating and implementing legal and social protections for domestic workers?

There are many obstacles to social and legal protection of domestic workers

-    The fact that domestic work is socially not considered a real job constitutes the main reason why domestic work is located at the spheres of the informal economy. Domestic Work is not considered a real job, because it is undertaken within homes (private) where relationships between employers and employees are regulated in terms of “favors” (she is as part of the family), rather than in terms of labor rights.  
-    The fact that domestic work is undertaken within the private-domestic sphere of homes makes the performance of inspection work difficult, and hinders determining if legislations are being obeyed. Furthermore, in some countries legislation’s the right to inviolability of homes prevails, which hinders the possibility of carrying out inspections, as with the rest of jobs. 

  • On a global level, legislations that regulate domestic worker’s protections are discriminative. Frequently, whenever one tries to debate domestic worker’s  work conditions in equivalence to the rest of workers, false debates emerge, such as:Increasing social protection means increasing the cost of domestic work. Since domestic work is being used by many middle class families, it is considered that increasing the cost of domestic service will lead to more informality in the sector.
  • This increase in cost would signify that women working outside their homes would return back, thanks to the fact that they have a domestic worker engaged in their homes.  

These false debates are supported on one side on social devaluations of what carers are subject to and on the other side on the fact that homes are managed like companies. Regarding the first aspect, in many cases it is not so much that homes cannot assume the costs and the consideration that this type of employment “does not require much money”.  Paradoxically, many homes are willing to take on significant debts and expenditures to change their cars, buy bigger houses or more luxurious appliances, but are not willing to do the same when it comes to paying the person that is responsible for their home care needs.  This means that in the scale of social values, care is clearly undervalued, which influences its translation in terms of money and rights that is believed domestic work deserves. 

Regarding the second aspect, when homes are managed like companies, domestic workers are forced individually to face expenses. Assuming there is no social responsibility towards care, then consequently the access to care depends on their private available resource (which supposes the achievement of decent care for one part of the population, at expense of domestic workers rights and by leaving another part of the population without access).  If carers are valued as the basis of the whole socio-economic system and constituting a pre-requisite for any other objective of collective wellbeing, homes cannot bear complete responsibility of “who will pay”. The answer to this question is transferred to homes, the state and to social responsibility. 

All described elements hinder the establishment of laws that adequately protects domestic workers.

How can international agencies, policy-makers, civil society organizations, academics and activities working for domestic workers, address these obstacles?

-    Social debate needs to be promoted and this debate should not solely be restricted to the situation of household employment, but rather on how household employment constitutes an important aspect within a set of resources that societies have in order to meet care needs. It is possible that in many cases the solution is more focused on the creation of care services where the State has a strong responsibility and where workers have good working conditions, rather than by encouraging the expansion of domestic service.
-    Promote the association of domestic workers, bearing in mind that the particularities of the group, leads to specific difficulties for collective articulation.
-    Work for unions to endorse the claims of domestic workers.


Kind regards

Gabriela Horbaty Gender, Migration and Development Programme UN Women Santo Domingo


Dear CoP,

Given below are some thoughts to questions 1 & 2.

In the context of sending countries, it is important that their governments and policymakers believe that migration for employment is a fundamental human right in any demographic/gender context. It is then the responsibility of sending country governments to ensure that the right protection mechanisms are in place for domestic workers. This is not only about given them free education and training about use of appliances, housekeeping, language etc. It is more about protecting their very own citizens from all forms of abuse, protecting their citizens from disease and HIV and protecting their citizens legal rights. If Governments are enjoying the massive foreign remittance flows from domestic workers then they have an obligation to protect the very citizens that bring in such foreign remittances to their home countries. Governments cannot afford to turn a blind eye towards a worker seeking redress from her employer.

It is important that Governments demonstrate a humane policy towards labour migration. Such policies will cover not only the human resource function but more importantly the human rights function of the domestic worker. These factors in human rights such as health and legal rights and other standard labour rights should be included in bilateral agreements and MoUs between the sending and receiving countries.

International players, CSOs, TUs and States can play a bigger role by way of agreeing to international instruments/recommendations, agreeing to sound and inclusive bilateral agreements and believing in and respecting CSOs and TUs to perform their capacity building and advocacy interventions at national, regional and international level.

In conclusion States should look at migration beyond the physical numbers and remittances alone. There is a stronger and more responsible human factor that cannot be overlooked. It is here that the migrants workers rights and especially the migrant domestic workers rights should be upheld.

Andrew Samuel Community Development Services Sri Lanka


Dear M4D Community of Practice,

  1. Can you identify and briefly discuss good practices in formulating and implementing legal and social protections for local and migrant domestic workers?
  2. What factors contributed to the success of these good practices?

In relation to these questions, I had once implemented a project manager the Philippine component of an ILO project on the Protection of Domestic Workers from Trafficking for Forced Labour way back in 2004-2006.  In this project, the following were done among others: Continued advocacy for the passing of the national law for domestic workers, mobilization of advocacy groups, capacity-building of the domestic worker organization, SUMAPI, parallel advocacy for the Philippine ratification of  migration-related ILO conventions, active social dialogue among homeowners associations and employer organizations, trade unions, domestic worker organizations, government and recruitment industry.  Some concepts applied in overseas employment programme of the Philippines such as domestic worker  orientation and education, upgrading of provisions of the employment contract to include social security, medical assistance, free transport (from source community to place of work), regular day-off and so forth were drawn into active debates and discussions for possible application in the domestic setting.

Conceptually, the Philippine reforms on the domestic worker policy in 2007, upgrading the training and competency level along with the minimum wage standard was a good policy statement.  Shortly after that a wave of individual efforts from other labour sending countries to demand higher wages or fairer treatment of their domestic workers was observed.  A regional approach to this may have had more sustainable and authoritative impact on the betterment of the terms and conditions of employment and recruitment of domestic workers to more countries.

I hope this little quick thoughts help.

Ricardo R. Casco National Programme Officer/Head Labour Migration Unit IOM Manila Tel:  +632 8481260   Ext. 180 Fax:  +632 8481259 Email:  rcasco@iom.int Mobile:  +639188040752

Dear Members of this e-discussion,

I wanted to share the experience, supporting decent work for domestic workers.

Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, mainly from Indonesia, has many problems such as underpayment, no holidays and pay a very high placement fees (HK $ 21000-30000) is in pay during the 7-10 months of salary (minimum wage per HK $ 3,580 months) this condition we call " work like slavery " , the cost of agent / renew contract cost is very expensive (HK government has set the agent fee is only 10% of first month's salary or HK $ 358) but many agency violate the law, holding of documents by the Agents and the employers and discrimination against foreign domestic workers from Hong Kong goverment like : NCS two week rule, Exclude foreign Domestic Worker from Minimum Wage law 

If I read the story above, the main source of the problem of domestic workers is the agency. Agents always cover the rights of domestic workers and have violated the law and the rights of domestic workers to make a profit of - magnitude.

Domestic workers as the most vulnerable group because of work in the house, no working hours and vulnerable to physical and sexual violence, should be processed by the government directly without going through agents. But now the government view of domestic workers is an export commodity that could push the country's economic growth and delivery handed over to private parties such as the government agency wanted to escape the responsibility of the sending of foreign domestic workers.

The lack of government support for sending and receiving countries of the ILO convention for domestic workers increasingly show an attitude of the recognition that domestic workers are workers.

Thank you,

In solidarity


Indonesian Migrant Workers Union (IMWU)
Serikat Tenaga Kerja Indonesia-PRT Hong Kong
Seceretariat: 4/F, Flat C, 32 Jardine Mansion, Jardine Bazzar, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.
Telphone: +852-23758337
Fax        : +852-29920111
: www.imwuinhk.multiply.com
Email     : imwu.hk@gmail.com

Affiliated member of:
Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Union (FADWU)
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Union (HKCTU)

Dear Members of the Community,

Raising awareness of rights with migrants before departure as well as contact details of organizations should form part of the induction process for domestic workers and or agencies that recruit them is critical. Black listing abusers so they don’t continue to employ domestic workers i.e. using the linkages of visas and supporting charitable organizations who provide legal and social protection is critical. The links below are part of the awareness process in host countries:

  1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/aug/30/migrant-workers-modern-day-slavery
  2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/7970416/Foreign-diplomats-abusing-immunity-to-keep-domestic-slaves-in-Britain.html

Kind regards

Dr. Titilola BanjokoMember, EC-UN JMDI Migrant Advisory Board

Dear Cop Members,

Followings are the identified best practices in formulating and implementing legal and social protection for local and migrant domestic workers.

  • Can you identify and briefly discuss good practices in formulating and implementing legal and social protections for local and migrant domestic workers?
  1. Involving local migrants and domestic workers in formulation of policies as it affects them.
  2. Inclusive legislation through popular participation.
  3. Complying with international treaties.
  4. Domestication of CEDAW at national levels.
  5. Access to justice during the time of rights abuse.
  • What factors contributed to the success of these good practices?

The following factors contributed to the success of these good practices:
1. Popularization of the international and domestication of such treaties at the national levels
2. Robust legislation between the representatives and the populace
3.Human rights abused documentation
4. Publicity of the government intervention as it affects the populace.
5. Sharing of the best practices among states.


Warmest regards,

Lukman A. Adefolahan
Programe Officer 1
Childolescent and Family Survival Organisation (CAFSO)
Plot 5 Akingbade Street, Opposite New Gbagi Market,
Off Old Ife Road,
Box 15060, Agodi P. O,
Ibadan 200003,
+234 80 27942603
Skype: Adefolahan3
http://www.internationalpeaceandconflict.org/profile/adekunle lukman 

French :

Chers membres,

Semaine Un:

1. Quels sont les principaux obstacles à la formulation et à l’application des protections juridiques et sociales en faveur des travailleurs domestiques ?

Les principaux obstacles à la formulation et à l'application des protections juridiques et sociales en faveur des travailleurs domestiques sont entre autre que:

- les gens en dehors des travailleurs domestiques ne sont pas conscients de leur exploitation

- ceux qui doivent formuler et faire appliquer ces dispositions en ont au moins 03 trois (jeune et filles) et ne leur accorde aucune considération humaine

- il n’y a pas de système d'auto-évaluation consciente des relations par les employeurs et leur employés

2. Comment les agences internationales, décisionnaires politiques, organisations de la société civile, monde universitaire et militants travaillant à défendre les travailleurs domestiques font-ils face à ces obstacles ?

Quelque fois des grandes conférences sont organisées pour aligner des gros ent étant loin de sa propre conscience. Aucun acte concret n'est posé. Les textes et les décisions écrits sur du papier ne peut pas apporter le changement sans la volonté et l'engagement de l'Homme

Semaine Deux:

1. Pouvez-vous identifier et discuter brièvement des bonnes pratiques au niveau de la formulation et de l’application des protections juridiques et sociales en faveur des travailleurs domestiques locaux et migrants ?

je propose que :

- les patrons donnent la chance aux travailleurs domestiques de dire ce qu'ils pensent de leur situation de travail sans un effet de renvoi

- l'éducation familiale intègre la dimension de la valorisation du domestique pour que les enfants grandisse avec l'esprit. Cela étant, l'homme faisant le grand changement sera prédisposé à le faire.

- chacun de nous participant à ce débat évalue la rémunération de son domestique et son temps de travail, son travail pour la vie de sa famille et le rapporte en exemple.

2. Quels facteurs ont-ils contribué au succès de ces bonnes pratiques ?

Les facteurs qui ont contribué à ces bonnes pratiques sont entre :

- l'éducation familiale et la socialisation qui mettent l'accent sur l'infériorité du domestique. Ces facteurs transmis de parents en fils, laissent à faire comprendre que toute personne qui vient travailler pour nous est notre objet de production. On doit l'entretenir comme une machine et non contribuer à son automisation

Semaine Trois:

1. Comment les bonnes pratiques existantes peuvent-elles être renforcées, modifiées et reproduites ailleurs ? Veuillez fournir des exemples. 

 Les mauvais exemples sont cités. Il y a t-il réellement de bons exemples ?

Combien sont t-ils parmi les mauvais.

Toutes mes excuses, pour moi personnellement il n y en a pas.

Drissa KONE de l'ONG  Groupe Action pour l'Enfance au Sahel (GAE-Sahel) Pour GAE-Sahel , il s'agit de'' faire vivre la solidarité pour faire mourir la pauvrété des pauvres qui migrent et s'exposent'' Tel: (223) 20 29 46 82 / 76 44 59 60 BPE: 3976 Bamako Mali -West Africa  


Dear Members of the Community,

Week One:

1. What are the key obstacles to formulating and implementing legal and social protections for domestic workers?

The main obstacles to formulating and implementing legal and social protections for domestic workers are:

- External people usually are not aware of the exploitative conditions that affect domestic workers.

- Who need to apply provisions in order to protect migrant domestic women, usually do not grant them any kind of protection, particularly with regard to young women.

- There is a lack of conscious evaluation in the relationship between employers and employees.

2. How can international agencies, policy-makers, civil society organizations, academics and activities working for domestic workers, address these obstacles?

- Institutions use to organize important conferences with the aim to clear (clean) their consciences. However, in order to obtain some substantial changes we need practical and reasonable measures, instead of empty words.

Week Two:

1. Can you identify and briefly discuss good practices in formulating and implementing legal and social protections for local and migrant domestic workers?

- Employers should give to their employees the opportunity to express their opinions without any consequences on their employment, such as unfair dismissals.

- Family education could be a good instrument to teach good values to the next generation, that would be probably able to change the World.

- All the participants to this e-discussion should evaluate the remuneration of domestic workers, their working hours and the important role played by domestic workers in the house management.

2. What factors contributed to the success of these good practices?

- Family education and the process of socialization are two important instrument to promote the human dignity and the rights of domestic workers.

Week Three:

1. How can existing good practices be up-scaled, modified and replicated elsewhere? Please provide examples.

- I am sorry, but I am not able to provide good examples.

Drissa KONE de l'ONG  Groupe Action pour l'Enfance au Sahel (GAE-Sahel) Pour GAE-Sahel , il s'agit de'' faire vivre la solidarité pour faire mourir la pauvrété des pauvres qui migrent et s'exposent'' Tel: (223) 20 29 46 82 / 76 44 59 60 BPE: 3976 Bamako Mali -West Africa

Dear Members of this e-discussion,

NO country in the world so far has a model legislative framework to protect both local and migrant domestic workers. i would suggest to refer to the new General Comment for migrant domestic worker, recently adopted by the International Committee for the protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers.

The CEDAW General recommendation 26 for women migrant workers should also be the standard to follow.

South Africa has good looking laws with a standard contract attached to its Labour law. The contract specify the scope of work, number of rest days and other rights and it is enforceable in the law. However, enforcement still pose a challenge although labour inspectors are allow to inspect private homes under the law.

In formulating legal protections, the rights should be enshrined in the national laws of destination countries where work place violation occur for migrant domestic workers.

The expereince of CARAM Asia showed us that, MOUs and policies that are not backed by enforeable laws and punitive measures for violators do not work.

Although the Phillipines had demanded minimum wage, a weekly rest day and others from employers, the Phillipines' policy is enforceable in laws of the destination countries unless employers signed the Phillipines contract agreeing to the conditions.

No matter how good are the laws and policies in Sending countries are, it can only govern the process before migration to work or upon return.

For migrant domestic workers, their access to justice and other rights are also subjected to immigration laws that allow employers to cancel their work permit ie their right to stay easily. employers are also allowed to with held workers passports and other documents. Without their documentation, workers face the risk of arrest and deportation. Therefore, there should also be laws that prohibit another person from safe keeping migrant workers' documents. Workers pending to seek justice or redress should also be allowed to stay and work in destination counties pending their cases.

CARAM Asia is a regional network of CSOs advocating for the recognition of Migrant Domestic Workers' rights for the last ten years in Asia.

Vivian Chong Programme Officer on Foreign Domestic Workers CARAM Asia Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. www.caramasia.org

Dear Members of this e-discussion,

Week One

- What are the key obstacles to formulating and implementing legal and social protections for domestic workers and how can international agencies, policy-makers, civil society organizations, academics and activities working for domestic workers, address these obstacles?

• Recognition of domestic work as real work, deserving of equal workplace protections and benefits

• Recognition of the role that gender and immigration discrimination play

• Recognition of how the private and isolated nature of the workplace requires flexible and innovative strategies for monitoring and collective bargaining models

• Recognition of the global “push and pull” factors that contribute to migration for domestic work, as well as the race to the bottom for wages and working conditions in all sectors.

• Stronger regulation of labor recruiters and other intermediaries who profit from selling the labor of migrant domestic workers

• Promoting the human right to organize for all workers

• Passing and ratifying the ILO convention on “Decent Work for Domestic Workers” which includes minimal protections for both local and migrant domestic workers and can be used as a floor for in-country legislation.

Week Two

- Can you identify and briefly discuss good practices in formulating and implementing legal and social protections for local and migrant domestic workers?

• In formulating any legislation or regulatory reform, the participation and leadership of domestic workers is essential.

• Organizing and mobilizing for change on the local level concurrently with work on the national level- it builds momentum and makes real changes on the local level, but moreover it builds local organizing infrastructure necessary to achieve national victories. While we are still working on addressing inequality in Federal laws (e.g., exemption from overtime and minimum wage protections), we have adopted local strategies that have had big wins in the meantime.

o The State of New York passed the first Domestic Worker Bill of Rights in the country in 2010 : http://www.domesticworkersunited.org/rightsandresources.php

o A similar “California Bill of Rights” was recently launched in 2011: http://www.nationaldomesticworkeralliance.org/campaigns/ca-domestic-workers-bill-of-rights

o In 2008, Montgomery County, Maryland passed a domestic worker law, which requires written contracts and prohibits retaliation against workers who seek to enforce the contract. The county also created a model contract available in 3 languages: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/ocptmpl.asp?url=/content/ocp/domestic/faqs.asp

• For migrant domestic workers, one example of success has been the development of a strong anti-human trafficking collaboration between community groups and the Department of State over the diplomatic and international organization domestic worker visas.

o Some specific outcomes of this have been “Know Your Rights” pamphlet developed in collaboration with service providers and organizations of domestic workers

o Improved monitoring, banking requirements enforced by the Department of State, informed by our experiences

o We expect that later this year the State Department will roll out an enhanced domestic worker briefing that will be informed by domestic worker and anti-trafficking advocacy groups

- What factors contributed to the success of these good practices?

Success in implementation these measures requires maintaining the open, active lines of communication and collaboration between government, domestic worker organizing groups, employers of domestic workers, and advocacy/research groups that were developed during the formulation period. It also requires more outreach and education work AFTER the measure is passed- to teach employers about what they need to do, and to teach workers about exactly how to exercise their rights. Public education can also be important in transforming media and perception about the issues.

Kind regards,

Tiffany Williams, LGSW Adviser, National Domestic Workers Alliance Co-Chair, Freedom Network USA Policy Committee Advocacy Director, Break the Chain Campaign Institute for Policy Studies 1112 16th St. NW, Suite 600 | Washington DC 20036 202-787-5245 | 202-503-8604 (cell) twitter: breakthechainDC www.breakthechaincampaigndc.org

Dear all those working with or supporting the advancement for the rights of migrant domestic workers,

I work in the UK for Kalayaan, a charity that gives direct advice and support to migrant domestic workers, including helping them retrieve their passports. We also advocate for the rights of individual domestic workers, and all migrant domestic workers in the UK.

The UK has relatively good practices for protecting migrant domestic workers in comparison with other countries in Europe and around the world, however we still have a long way to go, particularly when it comes to tackling the issue of that minority of diplomats who abuse and exploit domestic workers. I have given some more details on these issues and the forum questions below.

There will be more detailed recommendations for improvements in the UK published in our new research due to be launched in the UK in May.

There will be a more detailed shared platform of recommendations on diplomats and migrant domestic workers from a coalition of NGOs across Europe in the forthcoming German Institute of Human Rights/Office for Security and Cooperation in Europe conference in Berlin in May.

Can you identify and briefly discuss good practices in formulating and implementing legal and social protections for local and migrant domestic workers?

After ten years of campaigning in the UK by migrant domestic workers and their supporters – the Unions, Kalayaan, the Churches - we now have basic legal and social protections for migrant domestic workers.

Migrant domestic workers come to the UK recognised as workers and are covered by UK employment legislation. This is hugely important, and combined with the fact that migrant domestic workers are allowed to change their employer has led to many domestic workers successfully enforcing their rights through the employment courts. Kalayaan and North Kensington Law Centre in the UK have helped migrant domestic workers to win more than half a million pounds over the last 2 years (although much of these awards are yet to be enforced).

An independent visa status is issued to migrant domestic workers allowing them to change employer (although not sector) and leading to settlement after 5 years continuous work and residence. The ability to change employer has proven instrumental in allowing migrant domestic workers who have been mistreated to leave their employer and pursue their rights through the criminal and civil courts, without fearing deportation, without losing their permission to work and without losing the ability to support their families. Many have been able to move on with their lives and get over any bad experiences by regaining their strength and self-esteem through a respectful employment relationship and the ability to give their families a better life.

Although we have these basic protections in the UK, there is still a long way to go:

Domestic workers who are brought to the UK by diplomats do not currently have the right to change employer. Kalayaan’s data show that they suffer the same abuse and exploitation as other domestic workers. There is already dramatic power imbalance in the domestic worker-employer relationship. Diplomatic immunity further exacerbates this power imbalance. And yet, we still have a system in the UK of tying these diplomatic domestic workers to their employer or at least to his or her mission which is effectively the same thing. The UK government are currently reviewing the overseas domestic worker visa system and this is one thing that must urgently be remedied.

The UK does not give migrant domestic workers information about their rights and who they can turn to for help as part of the visa application process. This should also be changed as a matter of urgency. In this way, we can prevent people suffering exploitation or abuse, simply because they think there is no other option. The information should in the workers own language and thus should be available online translated into all languages commonly (and less commonly) spoken by migrant domestic workers applying for entry, and then printed as needed.

There is still an exemption in the UK National Minimum Wage law for individuals thought of as ‘family workers’ meaning they are living and working and sharing tasks with members of the family. This is often used by unscrupulous employers for not paying the national minimum wage if their domestic worker lives-in and even employers who want to do the right thing are confused by this exemption. Migrant domestic workers, with the support of North Kensington Law Centre and Kalayaan are taking a case to our higher courts to challenge this exemption on the basis that it is highly discriminatory against women (who are massively disproportionately represented amongst live-in workers).

There is no way for migrant domestic workers who have lost their visa status through no fault of their own (i.e. where their employer has withheld their passport/deceived them about their visa status) to rejoin the system. This means that employers still weald excessive power over domestic workers, and thus a bridging visa system should be created (like the one in Ireland) to prevent both this excessive power, and also the invisibility and vulnerability to exploitation that is associated with undocumented work.

What factors contributed to the success of these good practices?

Two important factors contributing to the success of these good practices are:

Of course the courage of migrant domestic workers willing to speak out about their experiences to Government and the public. Organising and supporting each other both formally through groups such as Justice for domestic workers, a Union affiliated group formed in 2009 and informally through groups of domestic workers who help accommodate newly run-away domestic workers referred to them by Kalayaan and help them find new work.

Strong support from the Unions, particularly Unite (formally the Transport and General workers union), who were willing to stand up for migrant domestic workers when they were undocumented and have been willing to accommodate migrant domestic worker organising even though they often can’t comply with the normal union structures.

Kind regards,

Jenny Moss
Community Advocate
0044 7243 2942
My email is jenny@ and then our website

Dear M4D Community of Practice,

Thanks for the elaborate report on the Domestic Workers Protection Law.
Domestic workers are women also and need to be covered by women's rights. Many of them migrate from developing countries as a result of poverty so the issues relating them need to receive urgent attention by international organizations.

Sybil Nmezi

Dear Members of this e-discussion,

Unionising domestic workers.

Thanks for the interesting responses to this dialogue. I agree with the post drawing attention to the macro-economic policies that encourage migration of poorer people into exploitative labour conditions. It's important in all our advocacy to interrogate the causes, not just the symptoms.

In addition we can look at the achievements of other sectors to look at the 'good practices' that improve living conditions. As with most historical advances in labour standards, achievements in improving the conditions of domestic workers have usually come about through unionising the workforce. It is, of course, very difficult given the isolated nature of domestic work and the fact that most domestic workers don't even get one day off. Legal barriers to unionising exist in many countries (see some research we conducted on the barriers to unionising domestic workers in selected Asian contries http://ufdwrs.blogspot.com/2010/11/new-ufdwr-publication-right-to-unite-...

But some attempts to give domestic workers a collective voice have worked. In Hong Kong Victoria Park on Sunday has become a regular organising site and the conditions workers gained there are much improved. Other organising strategies have involved establishing stalls at fruit and veg markets, balcony to balcony organising and using radio to communicate with domestic workers.

It would be good to hear about other successful organising tools for domestic workers.


Kate Lappin
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
Co-secretariat for United for Foreign Domestic Worker Rights

Dear M4D Community of Practice,

Contribution to the second week:

- Can you identify and briefly discuss good practices in formulating and implementing legal and social protections for local and migrant domestic workers?

- What factors contributed to the success of these good practices?

1. Good Practice 1: Dialogue between domestic workers, migrant associations, feminist movements,  government and labor unions. 

Location: Spain (Year 2009 and 2010)

Implemented by former UN-INSTRAW


  • Discriminatory Legislation: Its Reform was announced three years ago, without concretizing. Besides:
  • Domestic workers are not the government’s direct reform negotiators (only main trade unions are called in for negotiating, for whom domestic work has never been a priority).
  • Domestic worker’s associations have a table of long-standing claims, but specifically migrant women’s claims (more than half in Spain’s household sector), are very weak. 

During 2009’s last trimester and during 2010, former UN-INSTRAW (now UN Women), supported an interesting process to promote dialogue and exchanges among three actors (domestic worker’s associations, associations of migrant women and organizations of the feminist movement), which all have common interests, but so far had shown little or no intersection between them in relation to improving domestic worker’s rights. Historical claims of domestic worker’s associations when passing from the special regimen to the general regimen were enriched by incorporating the specificity of migrant’s women’s problematic, who work in the sector (presently, a majority in the case of Spain).

As a result from this process of sharing and working together, all organizations managed to agree and publish a set of proposals that has had an impact on three important areas: a) domestic work, b) the specific situation of migrant domestic workers and c) the broader framework of the social organization of care as an essential component of development models (and as a strategic junction of the link between migration and development).  

This set of proposal was presented to government representatives and major trade unions for its discussion at a key moment when the special regime reform, that regulates domestic work in Spain, was being discussed.  Even though it wasn’t possible to attain a compromise on behalf of the Government and of the Trade Unions, in order that that all presented demands should be incorporated, they all became more visible. At the same time, the domestic worker’s movement was strengthened and migrants associations started to incorporate domestic worker’s problematic in their efforts to defend migrant’s rights.

2. Good Practice 2: Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights 

Place: New York


31/8/10. David Paterson, New York Governor, signs new law for the protection of domestic workers. Source: http://www.domesticworkerrights.org/

- Founded in the year 2000, Domestic Workers United constitutes an organization based in New York, formed by Caribbean, Latin and African women workers that take care of children, elder people or work in the cleaning sector. According to their web site, they came together in order to “have power, respect and fair labor standards”, and for helping to develop a movement that will end the exploitation and oppression of anyone.

- In August of 2010, DWU managed to sign the “Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights”; a reform to the New York State Law that became effective the 29th of November 2010. The purpose of the reform is for guaranteeing labor norms and basic protection for babysitters, caregivers and house cleaners, who are all responsible for New York’s families’ well-being and who allow that others can work. The bill of rights constitutes an integrated response to domestic worker’s vulnerability in suffering abuse and it works to counter the exclusion of domestic workers from most labor protections. It includes provisions on working hours, rest days, holidays, protections in the work place and trade unions. For more information on the Bill of Rights, see: http://domesticworkersunited.org/media/files/252/Bill-of-rights-provisions-Espanol-Francais.doc

3. Good Practice 3: Agreement between intermediary organizations for the recruitment of domestic workers

Place: Spain


In Spain, labor mediation between domestic work claimants and between domestic workers is manly placed in the hands of NGO’s and church entities. These organizations usually have a job centre where women who are looking for work in the domestic sector can inscribe themselves. In two cities, all organizations that work as intermediaries have coordinated themselves, in order to establish the same hiring conditions, eliminating by it, competiveness and fomenting a collective negotiation culture, face up to unequal bargaining between domestic workers and employers. See as an example: http://www.ath-ele.com/doc/cond_albacete09.pdf

4. Good practice 4:

Place: Jordan

Situation: Special protection for Non-Jordanian Domestic Workers

In 2003, the Minister of Labor endorsed a "Special Working Contract for Non-Jordanian Domestic Workers" that aims to limit the number of fake contracts or contracts not recognized or approved by the competent authorities. This special working contract guarantees migrant workers' rights to life insurance, medical care, and a designated day off a week, rest days, and repatriation when their contracts expire.

The contract includes the provision of a minimum wage, ameliorating the problem of wage discrimination by requiring that domestic workers be paid the same salaries as Jordanians performing domestic work. This provision reverses the discrimination in present contracts that allowed tiered salaries for specific nationalities.

Gabriela Horbaty Research Assistant Consultant UN Women Santo Domingo

Dear M4D Community of Practice,

Will domestic work be an immigrant-dependent sector?

Globalization and increasing competition have led to the segmentation of labour markets in many destination countries. Usually as earnings and wages rise in countries of destination, native workers are less inclined to take-up certain jobs, making these jobs immigrant dependent. There are many jobs unfilled in immigrant-dependent sectors, such as agriculture, construction, cleaning, catering, hospitality services, tourism, care work and domestic work. In other words, while highly skilled jobs are needed in the primary labour market and they are dependent upon knowledge and skilled workers, low skilled jobs in secondary labour markets in informal and small enterprise sectors become dependent on low skilled migrants, sadly often ones in irregular status.

South-south migration also shows an increasing potential of the need for migrant domestic workers. For example, the rising prosperity of some of the more rapidly developing countries is a second contributing factor. In countries such as Malaysia and Chile, families increasingly can afford to employ foreign domestic workers, who are, of course, primarily women.

The main challenges are:

1. Domestic work is undervalued, invisible, poorly regulated, no social protection

2. Mostly carried out by women, many of whom migrants

3. Domestic workers are vulnerable to abuses of fundamental human rights (forced labour, child labour and discrimination)

4. Specificities of domestic work make it desirable to supplement general standards by standards specific to domestic workers

5. Growing demand and importance of Decent Work (especially care work) for the world economy

What are the key obstacles to formulating and implementing legal and social protections for domestic workers?

Domestic work is traditionally seen exclusively as belonging to the scope of the family sphere, and therefore as a matter to be overseen exclusively by family law without reference to any other regulation. Since most of the domestic work takes place in private household, this characteristic itself becomes a crucial factor that determines its exclusion from labour law.

The main challenge may relate to the fact that households are not considered a traditional “workplace”, and since domestic workers are employed by a person in their private sphere, these are not considered in the traditional terms of “employers”.  

As a result, a significant number of countries lack any kind of legislation or policies addressing domestic work and in those countries where legislation does exist; most of them are weak in terms of the protection and in terms of the provision of rights.  For example, in most countries private households are not usually supervised by labour inspectors since labour inspectors are forbidden from visiting private households.

Five main steps needed to take when trying to define a legislative framework for domestic workers are: the population that should be considered as a domestic worker; the specificities of the Employment contract and the setting of working hours; wages; weekly and annual rest.

1. Target and define the domestic workers:  The first complication of the legislation consists in defining the population that is covered by the law, as in many occasions the definition of domestic labour itself is very ambiguous. It can refer to different kinds of tasks and types of work depending on the country.

2. Make the employment contract mandatory:  A major challenge is the requirement of a work-contract, the basic element that establishes the rights and obligations of the parties involved. The existence of a work contract implies recourse to  social security and social protection.  3

3. Increase wages:  The wages of domestic workers are significantly lower than the all workers.

4. Regulate weekly and annual rest: National laws cover a wide variety of possibilities concerning weekly and monthly rest.  

5. Extend Social Security benefits: A clearly discriminatory regulation for the rights of domestic workers concerns unemployment benefits.  The benefit of pension is in most cases excluded for domestic workers.  Sick leave in some cases does not exist at all.  The maternity leave benefit deserves special attention, in most cases since the maternity leave benefits are obtained through the social security system and as many domestic workers are not registered.  In many countries, despite the “on paper” conditions, the reality is that pregnancy usually entails a direct job loss for female domestic workers, normally with limited or no rights at all. Coverage is also partial or fragmented no covering the whole range of contingencies enjoyed by traditional waged workers. There is inequality of treatment; the benefits enjoyed are not on the same footing. Some countries specifically excluded domestic workers from Social Security provision also. 

How can international agencies, policy-makers, civil society organizations, academics and activists working for domestic workers, address these obstacles?

Existing international labour standards do not offer adequate guidance on how to address the specific circumstances of domestic work. In March 2008, the ILO Governing Body agreed to include a standard-setting activity on decent work for domestic workers on the agenda of the 99th Session (2010) of the International Labour Conference.

The proposed norms reaffirm the protections to which domestic workers are already entitled to under existing ILO standards, while recognizing their special employment relationship and providing for specific standards to make these rights a reality. ILO tripartite constituents around the world are feeding the process and campaigning for the adoption of such convention.

How can existing good practices be up-scaled, modified and replicated elsewhere? Please provide examples. 

Good practices databases on migration related issues are needed and relevant.  Databases assist migration practitioners in their efforts to developing and improving migration policies and programme to maximize benefits of labour migration and minimize its negative consequences.

The ILO offers access to worldwide good practices database on labour migration implemented by governments, social partners and civil society in both countries of origin and destination, as well as regional and international institutions. Most of these practices are included in the ILO Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration (Annex II), and relevant information has been expanded and updated for the development of this database. In order to make information readily available, the database is being launched with a limited number of practices which will be progressively expanded. Good practices are identified on the basis of a specific set of criteria included in an evaluation matrix designed and tested by the International Migration Programme of the ILO.

You may find more information in the following link: http://www.ilo.org/dyn/migpractice/migmain.home?p_lang=en

Some of the examples found in this database are the following:

Household Workers Association (ASTRADOMES)

The Household Workers Association (ASTRADOMES) was established in 1991 and is affiliated to the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Women Workers in the Home (CONLACTRAHO). Its members are mainly Nicaraguan, reflecting the large number of Nicaraguan migrant women employed in Costa Rica as domestic workers. However, members also come from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

For example, ASTRADOMES provide the following benefits: A telephone service for domestic workers and employers; Advice, support and legal guidance for female migrant workers who experience labour rights violations; - A temporary shelter for dismissed workers;  Training workshops on subjects such as labour rights and duties, self-esteem, sexuality and  reproductive health; Social events intended to support workers’ the cultural identity.

Recently, ASTRADOMES filed a motion of unconstitutionality in 2005 in the Constitutional Court of the Supreme Court. The motion challenged the discriminatory treatment of domestic workers in Article 104 of the Labour Law in terms of minimum, hours worked, vacation, and rights to health services and a pension. While any reform of the labour law is still pending, in 2007, the Constitutional Court ruled that there was cause for unconstitutionality in the motion raised by ASTRADOMES. The Court established the right of domestic workers to one full day off per week and the right to enjoy public holidays.

For more information please follow this link http://www.ilo.org/dyn/migpractice/migmain.showPractice?p_lang=en&p_practice_id=35

West Coast Domestic Workers Association (WCDWA) in Canada

WCDWA is a non-profit association, with the majority of its funding provided by the Law Foundation of British Columbia.  WCDA officially formed and registered as a non-profit society in 1987, on the basis of a group of domestic workers initially brought together by researchers studying problems facing migrant live-in caregivers in Canada, in 1986. The organization provides a number of services to migrant caregivers, including free legal representation, skills training, and counseling. It also advocates for reforms to provincial and federal migration legislation and policies and disseminates information on employment standards and immigration laws.

More specifically, WCDWA objectives are:  provide legal information, summary advice and full representation to live-in caregivers, primarily in the areas of immigration, employment law and family law; Maintain an effective and collective association of and for live-in caregivers;  Educate and inform live-in caregivers about their rights; Provide skills training for live-in caregivers to help them advocate for themselves and for other live-in caregivers; Provide protection, assistance, information, support and counseling to live-in caregivers in need;  Conduct research on safety, health, sexism, racism, and exploitation of live-in caregivers in Canada;  Advocate for progressive reform of policies related to live-in caregivers.

For more information please follow this link http://www.ilo.org/dyn/migpractice/migmain.showPractice?p_lang=en&p_practice_id=60

Arab States: The Special Working Contract for Non-Jordanian Domestic Workers

In Jordan, migrant domestic workers, who are predominately women, face a number of labour and human rights violations, including overwork, non-payment of wages, restrictions on mobility and communication, and physical and sexual abuse. These violations are widespread, partially due to the fact that Jordan, like many other Arab countries, excludes domestic workers (whether Jordanian or foreign) from the provisions of national labour laws. The Special Working Contract attempts to guarantee these workers certain rights through the establishment of one standard contract.

Under the guidance of UNIFEM, in 2003, the Jordanian government approved the Special Working Contract for Non-Jordanian Domestic Workers, making it the primary document governing the relationship between employer/sponsor, agent, and worker. The Special Working Contract contains a number of important provisions, relating to the responsibilities of employers and recruitment agents and the rights of migrant workers, which include the followings: Every employer, agent, and housemaid must sign this contract and abide by its regulations.

It is in important to note that the contract only appears in English and Arabic. However, in 2006, the Ministry of Labour created a guide for migrant domestic workers translated into the languages of origin countries (Sinhalese, Tagalog, and Indonesian, as well as English and Arabic). The Ministry of Labour is now requiring all recruitment agencies to distribute the guide to newly-arrived migrant workers.

For more information please follow this link http://www.ilo.org/dyn/migpractice/migmain.showPractice?p_lang=en&p_practice_id=28

Technical Officer on International Migration
International Migration Programme (MIGRANT)
International Labour Organization ILO / GENEVA
Tel:  0041 22 799 79 36
Skype: olga.lucia.correa.pinillos

Dear M4D Community of Practice,

NO AGENCY FOR migrant Domestic Worker

Agent is a source of problems for domestic workers, because agents wanted to search for maximum profit.
Direct hiring for domestic worker, no agency fee.
All domestic worker united for: convention, decent work and recognized domestic worker as work.

Dear CoP members,

Here is my contribution to the following questions.

  1. Can you identify and briefly discuss good practices in formulating and implementing legal and social protections for local and migrant domestic workers?
  2. What factors contributed to the success of these good practices?

We believe that very strong governance is a factor that can contribute to good practices. Governments that respect MWs and their enormous contribution to the national coffers, governments that are accountable for the actions and decisions and policies it has on migration are the ones that can showcase their labour migration product.

Governments that negotiate for inclusive rights, facilities and benefits in bilateral and multilateral agreements are surely the ones that truly care for their migrant citizens.

Because there is to date no binding document that protects the domestic worker it is this very reason that some fundamentally important criteria are brought to contracts such as:

  • Agreement on decent working hours
  • Agreement on decent living conditions
  • Agreement on decent job tasks
  • Agreement on minimum wage
  • Agreement on paid day off
  • Agreement on paid annual and medical leave
  • Agreement on mobility
  • Ability to switch jobs with adequate notice
  • Insurance and compensation
  • Legal framework to hold perpetrators accountable

These are some thoughts on good practice in the absence of a universal document  for migrant domestic workers.

Thank you and kind regards 

Andrew Samuel 

Chers Membres,

Intervenant à l’étape de la Semaine Trois de ce débat et répondant à la question : Comment les bonnes pratiques existantes peuvent-elles être renforcées, modifiées et reproduites ailleurs ? Veuillez fournir des exemples, le FACM présente les linéaments suivants du mécanisme algérien de protection sociale, par le droit du travail et le droit de la sécurité sociale :

Auparavant, il est indispensable de souligner que le droit positif algérien en la matière, bien qu’inspiré par la législation héritée de la période coloniale, n’en a pas moins pour soubassement les préceptes de l’Islam, qui accordent à la femme une place prépondérante dans la Société.

Ainsi, l’aboutissement du processus d’algérianisation du droit social algérien a remis à l’honneur la place et le rôle de la femme sur l’échiquier de la société et de son développement.

L’Algérie  compte par ailleurs une proportion infime de femmes migrantes, notamment certaines qui se sont introduites par les frontières sud du Pays et, en proportion moindre encore, en provenance du Maroc et qui ont obtenu des titres réguliers de séjour.

Le personnel de maison est pris en compte, en tant que tel, par la législation de sécurité sociale, aux termes de la loi de base sur les assurances sociales, n° 83-11 du 2 juillet 1983 relative aux assurances sociales, publiée au  JO N° 28 du 05-07-1983), dont, notamment les dispositions suivantes

  • Article 1er. - La présente loi a pour objet d'instituer un régime unique d'assurances sociales.
  • Art. 2. - Les assurances sociales couvrent les risques suivants : maladie, maternité, invalidité, décès.
  • Art. 3. - Bénéficient des dispositions de la présente loi, tous les travailleurs, qu'ils soient salariés ou assimilés à des salariés, et ce, quel que soit le secteur d'activité auquel ils appartiennent et le régime dont ils relevaient antérieurement à la date d'effet de la présente loi. Les modalités d'application du présent article seront précisées par décret.
  • Art. 6. - Sont affiliées obligatoirement aux assurances sociales, les personnes, quelle que soit leur nationalité, occupées sur le territoire national, salariées ou travaillant, à quelque titre et en quelque lieu que ce soit, pour un ou plusieurs employeurs, quels que soient le montant et la nature de leur rémunération, la forme, la nature ou la validité de leur contrat ou de leur relation de travail. Les modalités d'application du présent article seront définies par décret.


  • I-Préambule :

Le système algérien de sécurité sociale se caractérise par:

· L’unification des régimes basée sur les principes de la solidarité et de la répartition;

· L’affiliation obligatoire de tous les travailleurs, salariés, non salariés, assimilés à des salariés. L’affiliation est également obligatoire pour d’autres catégories de personnes dites catégories particulières;

- les catégories particulières, qui comprennent :

- les travailleurs assimilés aux travailleurs salariés (exemple : les travailleurs à domicile, les employés par des particuliers , les marins et patrons pécheurs à la part, les artistes , les apprentis percevant plus de 50% du SNMG ….etc)…

Un texte réglementaire est ainsi consacré (Décret n° 85-33 du 9 février 1985) fixant la liste des travailleurs assimilés à des salariés en matière de sécurité sociale :

  • Article 1er. - Pour l'application de l'article 3 de la loi n° 83-11 du 2 juillet 1983 relative aux assurances sociales, sont considérés comme des salariés ou assimilés à des salariés,…
  • 2°) les personnes employées par des particuliers, notamment les gens de maison,

L’on remarquera que le personnel de maison est évoqué de manière générique, sans distinction de sexe ni de nationalité ; dans ce dernier cas, la législation algérienne renferme un dispositif spécifique à l’emploi des étrangers, sous-tendu par une égalité de traitement avec les nationaux. Les rares travailleuses de maison migrantes en Algérie en bénéficient.

En revanche, c’est dans la législation du travail (loi ° 90-11du 21 avril 1990, relative aux relations de travail) que le genre est plus remarqué, du fait de dispositions propres au travail des femmes et protectrices de leur statut (travail de nuit, pénibilité).

La prise en compte du phénomène de harcèlement sexuel, pénalement condamnable, complète cette protection particulière du genre.

Enfin, il convient de souligner que l’Algérie compte, au sein du syndicat le plus en vue, un comité des femmes travailleuses, outre un mouvement associatif féminin extrêmement développé et actif, qui œuvre à la promotion des droits de a femme travailleuse, en particulier.

Le problème qui reste posé, comme sous toutes les latitudes, est celui du travail au noir, qui expose le genre à de nombreux et divers aléas. Et le personnel de maison en  est une victime de choix.

Nourreddine SBIAPrésident du Forum Algérien pour la Citoyenneté et la Modernité (FACM)Vice Président du Comité Permanent pour le Partenariat Euro-Méditerannéen (COPPEM) 56, Avenue Ahmed Ghermoul, 16208, Alger, AlgérieTel./Fax : +



Dear M4D Community of Practice,

Taking part in the third week of this e-discussion, that asks to provide examples on how existing good practices in formulating and implementing legal and social protections for local and migrant domestic workers can be up-scaled, modified and replicated elsewhere, the FACM will points out the Algerian social protection system:

First of all, it is necessary to underline that Algerian law in this field has been greatly influenced by the colonial period, and by the Islamic principles, according to which women play a central role in society. Therefore, the process of “Algerianisation” of the Algerian social law has emphasised the role played by women in society and in its development.

The Algerian society counts a low proportion of migrant women, for instance those who enter from the southern coast of the country and, even less, those who obtain a residence permit.

Domestic workers are taken into account by the Algerian social security law, in particular the legislation on social insurances n. 83-11 adopted on the 2nd of July 1983, O.J. N. 28 of the 5th July 1983).

  • Art. 1 – The object of this law is to establish a unified social security system.
  • Art. 2 – The social insurances cover the following hazards: illness, maternity, disability and death.
  • Art. 3 – The provisions of this legislation apply to all salaried employee or equivalent salaried employee, regardless of their working sector and of the system applicable before the entry into force of this legislation.
  • Art. 6 –The affiliation to the social security system is required for all people who, regardless of their nationality, are employed in the national territory, both salaried employees and self-employed workers, regardless of their qualification and location, of their wage, of the form, the nature, the validity and the conditions of the employment contract.

A paper containing a presentation of the Algerian social security system has been issued by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security in 2010. It refers to:

  • Preamble:

The Algerian social security system is characterized by:

· the unification of the social security system on the base of the principles of solidarity and equitable distribution;

· the affiliation to the social security system is required for all workers: salaried and non-salaried employees. The affiliation is also required for the so-called particular categories;

- In these particular categories are included:

- Equivalent salaried employees (for example, domestic workers, seamen and fishermen, artists, apprentices, etc.)

A regulation (n. 85-33, 9 February 1985) has been adopted with the purpose to create a list of “equivalent salaried employees”

  • Article 1 – In order to apply article 3 of the law n. 83-11 2 July 1983 concerning social insurances, are considered salaried employees and equivalent salaried employees…
  • Article 2 – domestic workers

It should be noted that domestic workers are indicated in general terms, without any reference to the sex, the nationality. In the case of nationality Algerian legislation provides specific dispositions on the employment of non-nationals workers with the aim to ensure the equality of treatment between nationals and non-nationals. The few migrant domestic workers in Algeria will benefit from this policy.

On the other hand, the gender aspects (concerns) of work are emphasized in the Algerian labour law, that deals specifically with female works and the status of women at the workplace (night work, heavy work).

The provisions concerning sexual harassment, considered as a criminal offence, complete the gender aspects in the protection of female workers.

Finally, it is important to highlight that in Algeria there is a Women Workers Committee and an associative movement of women that are extremely developed and active, and that work, in particular, for the promotion and the protection of the rights of female workers.  

However, the problem of illegal work remains unsolved, this issue affects particularly migrant women domestic workers, who are the most vulnerable subjects and who are the main victims of this situation.

Nourreddine SBIAPresident of the Algerian Forum for Citizenship and Modernity (FACM)Vice President of the Standing Committee for the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (COPPEM) 56, Avenue Ahmed Ghermoul, 16208, Alger, AlgérieTel./Fax : +

Dear Members of this e-discussion,

When I read your question I remembered Singapore and Hong Kong best practices in formulating and implementing legal and social protections for local and migrant domestic workers. There is weekly holiday for domestic worker .There is also hot line for domestic worker .As I know in Singapore if any employer wants to keep domestic worker in their house She/he should give interview with government either she/he has basic requirement for the domestic worker or not .In Hong Kong there is a organization HOME centre workers in legal and social protection for domestic worker 

Regarding factors contribute to success good practice we should have strong policy and we should have strong implementation strategy as well we have to develop our concept domestic worker is decent worker and we have to fight for slavery. We have to bring domestic worker together to established their rights .

Lets come together for protection for domestic worker rights 

With Best Regards

Mahendra Pandey
Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee (PNCC)
GPO Box. No. 20218, Anamnagar, Kathmandu, Nepal
+977-1-4770775, +977-9851118031 (Cell)
mahendra@pncc.org.np, info@pncc.org.np

Dear friends,

I would like to inform you on a current and innovative good practice:

It is an exhibition by diverse artist women, whose work deal with domestic employment.

Showing the body of domestic work in general, and migrant domestic work in particular, is a very powerful tool, because it embodies the fight for domestic workers' rights. It is an alliance between art, feminism and lobbying that targets a diverse audience, part of which would not be reached by any other way.

The exhibition is named "Mutual Dependencies: Domestic Workers and Care Crisis", and it is currently being showed at Zaragoza, Spain. It is a collaboration by SIEM, Odelia and Women's House. It has been commissioned by Esther Moreno. It will be exhibited in other towns during the next months.

More info can be found in the attached documents and at:



Here goes a brief description of the work of the diverse artists:

- Elena Fraj's video creation deals with domestic employment during Spanish Franco's dictatorship. She confronts the evidence provided by women who worked as domestic employees with the stereotyped image of "the maid"

- Louisa Holecz has built a house, that is a patchwork of old domestic employees' aprons and uniforms. She explores the significance of the interior and exterior, displayed and hidden, the meaning and frailty of "home"

- Natalia Iguiñiz has done portraits of pairs of female domestic employers and employees. Who is "the other"? The problem is faced within the intimacy of households

- Daniela Ortiz: she has selected photographs obtained in Facebook of high class families and persons. Domestic employees appear in all photographs in the deep, out of focus. Domestic employees act as a symbol of their employers' status

- Martha Rosler: she uses Mail Art; a series of postcards written by a domestic worker migrated to the US are showed

- Territorio domestico: the video shows the demonstration organized by this group of migrant domestic workers on the 28th March, Domestic Workers' day, asking for their rights

- Eulalia Valldosera: the Ukrainian  domestic worker of the owner of the artist's gallery in Italy is recorded cleaning the statue of a Roman emperor.

Amaia Pérez Orozco


Bonjour chers intervenants au débat sur le travail du Domestique!

L'importance du sujet est ressentie à travers les multiples contributions provenant de partout le monde.

Nous en parlons parce que le problème de travail de domestique est aujourd'hui crucial.

Les textes sont bien élaborés, bien interprétés et mis en relation avec le gendre mais le problème ne fait que s'aggraver.

Je l'avais déjà signalé dans mon intervention. C'est l'Homme qui élabore les textes et l'Homme doit les mettre en œuvre. Généralement nous avons une application détournée de ces textes.

Après des décennies d'élaboration des textes peut-on ensemble produire quelques éléments concrets d'application de ces textes en dehors des conférences et colloques?

Je réitère mon appel à tous. Cherchons à faire le changement de mentalité dans nos familles vis à vis de la différence ou de la personne domestique. Je suis conscient que cela est difficile mais il faut commencer. Nos enfants seront étonnés mais ils en feront de mêmes à travers un code familial de respect de l'autre (le cas précis domestique). Je trouve que les dispositions institutionnelles ne peuvent pas apporter le changement sans l'adhésion des individus.

Je propose que l'on se donne une année pour présenter nos changements personnels.

Drissa KONE ONG Groupe Action pour l'Enfance au Sahel (GAE-Sahel) BPE:3976 Bamako Mali Tel: (223) 20 29 46 82 / 76 44 59 60


Dear Members of this e-discussion on domestic workers,

The importance of this topic is demonstrated by the numerous contributions (provided) by all over the World. Nowadays, domestic work is really a controversial issue and we need to speak about it.

Although legislation is well developed and applied and it has increasingly take into consideration the question of gender, the problems related to domestic work remain unsolved.

I had already highlighted this situation in my last intervention. Human beings are those who formulate legislation and who need to enforce it. However, it should be said that usually we have a distorted view of how legislation works.

After the last few decades that have lead to a great development in legislation, is it possible to translate all the knowledge that we have gained from the case law and the real application of legislation in useful information to spread in conferences and meetings?

I appeal to everybody. We need to modify our feeling and our attitude towards domestic works, starting from the education in our family. I know that it is difficult, but we need to undertake this change. We need to educate our children to respect the others, even though this will be not an easy educational process. I think that measures taken at an institutional level cannot be able to bring the change that we need, without the active participation of individuals in this process.

What I suggest is to present the progress that we will be able to make in one year, in order to evaluate the potentiality of this proposal.

Drissa KONEONG Groupe Action pour l'Enfance au Sahel (GAE-Sahel)BPE:3976 Bamako MaliTel: (223) 20 29 46 82 / 76 44 59 60

Dear M4D Contributors,

The following is my contribution on the topic of


1. KEY OBSTACLES; The key obstacles in formulating and implementing legal and social protection for these workers can be listed as follows. a) Absence of a migrant workers operating framework b) secrecy and poor documentation of the migrant workers c) absence of any form of certification or capacity and skills recognition document.

2. ADDRESSING THE OBSTACLES; The suggested steps to be taken in addressing these obstacles are as follows; a) To create an international migrant domestic workers rights defending network possibly as a sub unit of the International Human Rights Network. This will enable those advocating for the migrant domestic workers raise individual issues that need to be addressed on behalf of the workers, These issues will include poor conditions of work, threats of forced deportation, regularization of migrants papers, and documentation and upgrading of the skills of the skills and capacities of the migrant workers.

3. GOOD / BEST PRACTICES; The best practices for migrant workers are found in international church or faith networks moving members from one country to another to assist as volunteers. This has the least abuse records because there is already an accepted level of fair treatment. These workers also have some form of documentation which is usually in the custody of the sponsor organization. The rates of sexual abuse or other abuses are at a minimum because the faith based principles do not support it. They payments may be low, but there is a better level of survival than for those who migrated on the platform of migration contractors. The beauty about faith based migrants is that they have been groomed to also minister to the families as well as carry out domestic services.

4. FUTURE REPLICATIONS; This may include working with international and local faith based networks to groom members for national and international service in domestic care giving.

Nnenna Eluwa
Executive Director
First Lady’s Save Our Youths Campaign

Previous discussions

Past e-discussions brought together stakeholders from local governments, national authorities, Civil Society Organizations, academics, the international community and more to discuss such topics as forced displacement and sustainable development, the protection of migrant workers, how CSOs and other local actors can support city leadership on M&SD topics and more.