Yesterday was a historic day!

An international convention enters into effect on Thursday that could eventually extend labour rights to as many as 100 million domestic workers across the globe, a constituency that has historically been bypassed by national laws.

The new Domestic Workers Convention, a binding agreement passed under the auspices of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2011, has thus far been ratified by nine countries. Those governments will now be tasked with ensuring that their national labour legislation both extends to domestic workers and ensures those workers a decent work environment.

 Such positions include maids, nannies, in-house cooks, caregivers and other labour in private homes – workers that have long been considered to be among the most exploited anywhere in the world. Proponents are not only lauding the convention’s specifics but also suggesting that the accord will do much to solidify the social and official understanding of domestic work as on par with any other employment.”  The full press release can be found at http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/09/domestic-workers-emerge-from-the-shadows/

While these conventions do not automatically guarantee rights or better treatment for the millions of domestic workers who have been traditionally a very marginalized group; it does give them a better platform on which to raise the significant issues that they face. One can hope that more than the current nine countries (Bolivia, Germany, Italy, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Paraguay, the Philippines, South Africa and Uruguay) will ratify this convention and begin to accord this sector with appropriate labour laws and protection from abuse.

For today, I am simply happy to know that finally this sector of vulnerable workers have achieved some degree of recognition and support. The fight for basic human rights must start somewhere and this at least is a significant step forward!

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