See National Domestic Worker Alliance Leader Guillermina Castellanos Mendoza’s testimony at the ILO’s opening submission statements.

Louise McDonough of the International Labour and Research Branch of the Australian government, remained a strong proponent for a Convention on domestic work.  Read the following excerpt from her closing remarks to see how governments advocated for the rights of domestic workers.


Chair, this Committee was charged with developing an international standard that provides meaningful protections for domestic workers across the world – a standard which sets the appropriate international benchmark for generations to come. Australia is pleased with the outcome of the Committee’s work – a Convention that prescribes minimum protections for domestic workers and a Recommendation that provides guidance to member states on how to extend these protections to this vital segment of the global labour market, to finally lift them into the formal economy to take their place alongside all other workers.

As Australia said in our opening statement – there is no doubt that the measure of our success is in terms of the impact the Convention will have in the real world. In this respect a number of countries, including developing countries, have already shown the way with effective domestic legislation for domestic workers already in place.

We encourage all governments to embrace the opportunity to provide decent work for domestic workers by ratifying the Convention and we look forward to its widespread ratification. We appreciate that ratification will often require amendment to national legislation and Australia is no exception in this regard. However, if national law and practice was already adequate, this house would not have been charged with developing international instruments for domestic workers across the world who largely work in the informal economy. As always, ratification of ILO conventions requires amendments to national law and practice and this situation is no different – so our approach should not be that we can’t ratify, but rather how can we ratify. Because if countries don’t amend their laws to meet the international standard, the situation for domestic workers around the world will not change.

Finally, Australia has been very proud to have been part of the development of this historic Convention and Recommendation for Domestic Workers – we pay tribute to every one of the 100 million domestic workers across the world, including those who have attended these proceedings, we recognise domestic workers for the professional workers that they are, and we commend them for having the courage to stand up and seek this recognition as legitimate workers, often against all odds. Australia hopes this new international standard will make a strong and substantive difference to the quality of your working lives and mark a new era of decent work for domestic workers.

To learn more about today’s victory, see our joint press statement here.


Convention Won!!!

Overwhelmingly, ILO members voted in favor of an international Convention for the respect of domestic workers’ rights!

Convention 189 was approved by 396 votes in favor, 16 against and 63 abstentions.

The attached Recommendations were even more overwhelmingly approved with 434 votes in favor, 8 against and 42 abstentions.

See the our network’s response to the vote within the UN General Assembly!

Juan Somavia, Director-General of the ILO, stepped out of the proceedings to congratulate members of the network!

This is the beginning of a new era for over 100 million domestic workers all over the world who will start fighting for the ratification and implementation laws in their respective countries.

-Isabel Garcia-Gill

Communications Advisor, WIEGO & IDWN

On June 15, the executive body of the International Labour Conference formally accepted the Report of the Domestic Workers Committee. Myrtle Witbooi, President of IDWN, delivered an address to the entire ILC in the United Nations Assembly Hall.  The final vote on the Convention will take place on Thursday, June 16.  We are holding on to “yes we can” from Geneva…

For more information on the context of our work at the ILO, see the attached summary.

IDWN briefing on proposed Convention for Domestic Workers

Geneva City Centre, June 14

Members of IDWN joined the Swiss national trade union and gender rights advocates in a public demonstration and march in honor of the struggle to attain labor rights and political representation for Swiss women.  A tapestry with 3000 domestic workers’ handprints travelled from Hong Kong to Geneva for this event.

Pictured here are a series of IDWN’s global statements of solidarity in the struggle for labor and women’s rights in Switzerland.

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Journalist Isabel Garcia-Gill wrote an in-depth news article on three members of the IDWN.  Her June 11 Le Temps article, “La longue marche vers la dignité” [The long march to dignity] received national coverage and a front page feature.  Photographer Alan Humerose created the striking images of Ernestina Ochoa, Narbada Chhetri and Fataou Raimi from the main lobby of the International Labour Organization.

An attached version of the article is available in French here.  Le Temps

Members of the IDWN contributed their voices to the formal ILC Plenary Record. Read Ip Pui Yu’s speech below, to situate the domestic work conversation within the larger context of global labor and workers’ rights.

Mr. President

My name is Ip Pui Yu, and I am speaking on behalf of the IUF global union federation. The IUF provides an organisational base for the International Domestic Workers’ Network (the IDWN), and I am Asian Regional Coordinator for that network.

In today’s world, vast numbers of women are migrating – within countries and across borders, even to countries far away from their homes and families. They leave their own children and elders behind, in the care of others. They leave behind their own communities, often for many, many years, because they cannot get a job in their own country. They do it precisely because of their love for their families, so that the money they earn can pay for education, healthcare and so on. Off they go – most of them to work as domestic workers, caring for others.

Mr. President, I ask whether the world has ever seen anything like it – such a deliberate movement of so many women, as a strategy for themselves and their families, promoted by many governments, to help relieve poverty. If they were not poor, surely far fewer numbers would do it. This is why we need a far better economic system for the world, as the Director General so rightly states in his report this year.

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Onward…Day 7

Members of the IDWN begin the day with unity through song.