IDWF Statement on the International Migrant Day 2023

On International Migrants Day, the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF) demands immediate measures to protect the labor rights of migrant domestic workers. The IDWF calls on everyone to recognize the vital contribution of migrant domestic workers to our economies and societies, and to implement concrete actions to ensure their fundamental rights as any other worker.

Paid domestic work is a source of employment for 11.5 million migrant women, 80% of whom are concentrated in high-income countries, with significant variations from region to region. Despite their contribution, these workers face significant challenges and factors that have intensified the need for their services as well as migration flows in domestic work; such as demographic change, changes in family structures and an increase in the global demand for care.

In many countries, migrant domestic workers are the backbone of the so-called “care crisis”. These women, in search of better opportunities, provide care in households of faraway lands while entrusting the care of their own families to other women in their communities of origin. Despite distance, they reinvent family care by sending remittances and making videocalls to ensure the wellbeing of their children from a distance. The financial and bureaucratic difficulties they face make it almost impossible to become reunited with their families. These “global care chains” are based on a flexible labor force that is underpaid and subjected to precarious working conditions, and, in many cases, these workers fall victims to abuse, human trafficking, violence and extreme vulnerability throughout the migration cycle.

It is time to take action!

Migrant domestic workers are at the center of an urgent situation that calls for our immediate collective attention. Ranging from vulnerability in their hiring to extreme exploitation in their work places, these women face unacceptable abuse that not only violates their fundamental rights but also perpetuates an inequality and abuse cycle.

It is time to break away from the chains of injustice. We demand concrete legal protection measures, specific assistance policies, social coverage and unrestricted access to justice.

Each life that is lost in an attempt to escape these inhuman conditions is a wake-up call that we cannot ignore. Why do we allow this migration “business” to be a calvary for so many women? It is time to undertake collective responsibility. Let’s take action now to put an end to this injustice and give these women the dignity and rights they deserve!

Our only way forward is to persistently bring together, organize and mobilize our collective force. Together we will remain steadfast in our demands to:

  • Ensure freedom of association for migrant domestic workers;
  • Ratify and comply with international standards on migration and labor;
  • Implement legal protection frameworks and access to social protection in both countries of origin and destination;
  • Adopt effective mechanisms for work inspection;
  • Implement measures to ensure decent work and life conditions for migrant domestic workers at all stages of the migration process;
  • Establish bilateral and transnational coordination mechanisms to ensure their human rights;
  • Ensure legal assistance and access to justice for all workers, regardless of their migration status;
  • Combat abuse, human trafficking and forced labor, including sponsorship regimes and the kafala system in the Middle East;
  • Develop effective information and awareness raising campaigns about domestic work and migration.

We urge governments, unions and society at large to use existing mechanisms, support our demands and defend the rights of migrant domestic workers.


Read the petition of domestic workers unions for migration justice and security and protection.

Download here

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