Domestic workers' rights: Let's keep the momentum

More than 5.24 million domestic workers live in Africa. Around 70 per cent of domestic workers across Africa are women. Very few of the estimated 53 million domestic workers worldwide are covered by labour laws.

Feature | 27 January 2015
ADDIS ABABA (ILO News) – The ILO’s tripartite constituents adopted the Domestic Workers Convention No. 189 during the 100th Session of the International Labour Conference in June 2011 to improve working conditions for domestic workers worldwide. The ILO’s Governing Body adopted in November 2011 a Strategy for action towards making decent work a reality for domestic workers.

There are a number of issues underlying domestic work in Africa including labour exploitation and social structures, migration of domestic workers, trafficking of children and women into domestic work, gender dimension of domestic work as well as high informal employment and weak legal protection.

Chronic poverty and widening inequality, HIV/AIDS mortality, lack of educational facilities, and the legacy of domestic servitude from the colonial period are among the factors that explain the growing size of the domestic work sector.

The ILO estimates that 70 % of domestic workers in Africa benefit from limitation of normal weekly working hours on an equal footing with other workers. Some 57 % have the same legal entitlements to annual leave as other workers, while 87 % are covered by a minimum wage and a similar coverage, by law, exists in respect of maternity protection.

An important question that arises, however, is to what extent domestic workers enjoy these rights in practice and what are the strategies needed to make decent work a reality for domestic workers.

For more information or to request interviews, please contact the ILO Communication team in Addis Ababa:; - : +251 911218113/5