In view of the Beijing +25 celebration, I draw upon ethnographic research in Ethiopia and Tanzania to examine various forms of action mobilised by governments and formal and informal women’s labour movements for the improvement of domestic workers’ rights. Domestic work is one of the most important sources of employment for women in both countries. Yet the lack of adequate protection leaves domestic workers open to several forms of abuse and exploitation. Various activists are lobbying governments for the improvement of domestic workers’ conditions in terms of payment, enforcement of written contracts, access to social protection, and the right to a safe work environment. Labour activists are currently advocating for the ratification of the ILO Convention No. 189 ‘Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers’. In particular, they mobilise support networks at local, regional, national and international level, and emphasise the need for domestic workers themselves to be on the frontline. Despite their efforts, they face many challenges in organising domestic workers, and there is little awareness of their actions among domestic workers themselves; much remains to be done to achieve significant advances in the rights of domestic workers. The article argues that in the absence of institutional social protection, domestic workers’ mobilisation of other strategies of action outside of formal channels, such as neighborhood interactions and informal gatherings which work as sources of emotional, practical and material support, are also important in the advancing of domestic workers’ rights. It is argued that both formal and informal approaches have relevance for academic research and activists who seek to foster new solutions to achieve improvements in domestic workers’ rights.

Building Support Networks 25 Years After Beijing: The Case of Women Domestic Workers in Ethiopia and Tanzania

Silvia Cirillo
2021-01-01

Abstract

In view of the Beijing +25 celebration, I draw upon ethnographic research in Ethiopia and Tanzania to examine various forms of action mobilised by governments and formal and informal women’s labour movements for the improvement of domestic workers’ rights. Domestic work is one of the most important sources of employment for women in both countries. Yet the lack of adequate protection leaves domestic workers open to several forms of abuse and exploitation. Various activists are lobbying governments for the improvement of domestic workers’ conditions in terms of payment, enforcement of written contracts, access to social protection, and the right to a safe work environment. Labour activists are currently advocating for the ratification of the ILO Convention No. 189 ‘Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers’. In particular, they mobilise support networks at local, regional, national and international level, and emphasise the need for domestic workers themselves to be on the frontline. Despite their efforts, they face many challenges in organising domestic workers, and there is little awareness of their actions among domestic workers themselves; much remains to be done to achieve significant advances in the rights of domestic workers. The article argues that in the absence of institutional social protection, domestic workers’ mobilisation of other strategies of action outside of formal channels, such as neighborhood interactions and informal gatherings which work as sources of emotional, practical and material support, are also important in the advancing of domestic workers’ rights. It is argued that both formal and informal approaches have relevance for academic research and activists who seek to foster new solutions to achieve improvements in domestic workers’ rights.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11576/2689468
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