Statement by UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet on the Adoption of the ILO Convention and Recommendations on Decent Work for Domestic Workers

Date: Thursday, June 16, 2011

This is a historic moment for domestic workers worldwide. The ILO Convention and Recommendations on Decent Work for Domestic Workers is precedent-setting, as it is the first Convention solely on domestic work and defines domestic work as “work, making it integral to development. It lays out the human rights standards for domestic workers in the context of the decent work agenda, within which to act as committed governments, responsible employers and workers.

UN Women congratulates ILO member States, employers and their organizations, trade unions, domestic workers organizations and other civil society groups for their steadfast commitment and efforts to secure this landmark Convention. This is a matter of social justice and dignity. It is a long-awaited recognition of the extraordinary work by millions of domestic workers worldwide.

Domestic workers are estimated to comprise between 4 and 10 percent of the labour force in developing countries and about 2 percent of that in industrialized countries. Behind these numbers there are people, most often a woman or girl who works tirelessly so that others can engage in paid employment; enhance material and emotional well-being; and live in relative degrees of comfort. Where State provision of care-giving and other social services is insufficient, domestic work fills the gap, permitting a better balance between work and family life for many families.

The flip side of this picture is the resilience and determination of domestic workers to find ways to survive, and even thrive. These women are often the lifelines of their families and communities at home and abroad, contributing to development by way of their skills, labour, consumption and tax expenditures, as well as financial and social remittances.

Decent work for domestic workers is an issue of particular importance to UN Women. Our Strategic Plan identifies women's economic empowerment as a thematic priority, in which we commit to partner with ILO and others to support national priorities on decent work, asset-building and extension of labour protections for all women workers, including migrant workers and domestic workers.

UN Women will work closely with the UN, governments and all relevant stakeholders to support ratification of the ILO Convention and Recommendations on Domestic Workers, and to support the formulation and implementation of legislation, policies and programmes that promote decent work for domestic workers in all countries.