Domestic workers' rights in global development indicators

SOURCE: Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
DEPARTMENT: Inclusive Economic Development (IED)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 7320

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The United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, the largest-ever gathering of world leaders, representing 189 member states arrived at an internationally-agreed upon agenda. The agenda was a set of development indicators, which albeit with good intention, did not take into account the working conditions of vulnerable workers within either the formal or informal employment sectors. No specific goal on labour rights was included-a pressing concern, in particular for those who are treated unjustly in the workplace. At an international level, the vulnerability and exploitation of women in informal employment, has received increased attention in the last ten years and more recently within the sector of domestic work. One of the concerns has been that a number of domestic workers work under some of the most unprotected work conditions and suffer some of the worst forms of gender exploitation. Noting the omission of marginalised and vulnerable groups from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) there is a need for civil society to respond to their understanding of the MDGs so that poverty as it relates to the experience of marginalised working women is not overlooked in national plans to implement the MDGs. This Focus makes an argument for the rights of domestic workers to be integrated into the implementation programmes of MDGs. Domestic workers, comprising mostly women, face a range of workplace abuses as both family unpaid labour in some countries and as cheap labour, particularly in countries like South Africa where domestic employment practices have their roots in colonialism, and migrant labour under apartheid.