Domestic Work is Care Work

Invest in Care: Decent Work for Domestic Workers
Campaigning for a Just Care System

Across the world, domestic workers are an essential part of the care economy. The “Care Economy” is the sum of all forms of care work – it can be paid or unpaid, in public or private places. Domestic workers are an essential part of the care workforce, making up 23 per cent of the global care workforce.

In many countries, particularly where healthcare and elderly care services are inadequate, and as the ageing population grows, the demand for care work is increasing, and helping to look after the sick and elderly is becoming a key part of a domestic workers’ role. This is even though they often have little or no professional training or indeed recognition for this.

But the protections offered for workers have not matched the demands for care. Those who provide care face huge costs – they lack protection, experience exploitation and abuse, and suffer from low wages and poor conditions. Care workers’ work is undervalued and is often not seen as a “real job”, synonymous with “women’s work” or that of charity work.

But domestic workers as providers of care should have their labour rights and care needs recognized, particularly after the pandemic which shone a light on the essential caring role of domestic workers. The growing demand for care also means that conditions for workers in care needs to improve to attract and retain workers in care jobs.

Domestic workers across the world are coming together to campaign for domestic work to be re- imagined as care work and for a comprehensive system of care.

In 2020, the IDWF launched the #CareForThoseWhoCareForYou campaign to raise awareness and advocate for professional recognition of this essential care work that domestic workers do, with the urgent need for appropriate wages and social protection.

The IDWF is collaborating with other Global Unions including UNI, EI and the PSI to amplify the demands. For example, we ran a joint Invest in Care Now! Global Day of Action, on 29 October 2020

Understanding care work, read more and access IDWF resources here:

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