Carmen Britez

UPACP, Argentina

Secretary of Organization and Acts of the UPACP, the Union of Auxiliary Personnel of Private Homes (Unión Personal Auxiliar de Casas Particulares) – Argentina

“I was born and raised in Villa Fiorito, Argentina, in a family with four siblings, a mother in domestic work and a father in construction work. I began my career in defense of domestic workers at an early age when I saw firsthand the abuse of her mother, who worked as a domestic worker to support our family. This impunity marked me forever, and I vowed to fight for the protection of this sector. At 16, I had to drop out of high school to work as a domestic worker to help support my family when both parents were unemployed. At the age of 20, I joined the UPACP union, where I became a member of the executive committee in 1982, determined to change the inequality and invisibility suffered by the majority of domestic workers. Thanks to UPACP’s support, I finished high school and graduated as a lawyer at the age of 47. Today, I am one of UPACP’s prominent leaders, and at 55 years of age, I seek to fulfil what I swore to myself from the beginning: to fight for the labor rights of domestic workers until social justice becomes a reality.”

Carmen Britez is a lawyer, an activist and a trade union leader with over 35 years of experience in the fight for domestic workers’ rights. She is also the Director of Medical Benefits of her Union’s Social Work, a Professor at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) and holds the position of Acting President of the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF).

In Argentina, Carmen is the founder of the National Commission of Private Houses and a member of the Women’s Table Fuerza Sindical (Union’s Strength), characterized by its work for the rights of working women and the fight against gender violence and child labor. Carmen actively participates in the negotiations of the International Labor Organization, and together with allies and the government, she has managed to promote the ratification of Convention 189, which entered into force in 2014 and Convention 190, which entered into force in 2021 in Argentina. She has also achieved projects at the local and national level, such as the inauguration of a Women’s Center in 2022 to manage cases of violence and harassment in the workplace. That same year, together with the Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity and the Ministry of Labor, she launched the Program Registradas to promote access, registration and the continuation of employment for domestic workers.

UPACP joined the IDWF in 2013 and Carmen was elected Vice-President during the second Congress. Since then, she has been invited to give talks and advice at the international level, where she can share the Argentine experience before the ILO, UN Women, OECD and different agencies, forums and international organizations. In 2022 she was elected to the Board of Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO).

The UPACP represents the interests of more than 1.3 million workers, the majority of whom are women who travel from vulnerable locations. Of this group, 100,000 are unionized domestic

workers, and 400,000 are registered as employees. Despite the successful registration rate, the fight for Carmen continues as nearly 70% of domestic workers in Argentina remain without rights or benefits.

Carmen is a strong and pragmatic leader, under whose direction UPACO has achieved significant accomplishments for domestic workers in Argentina in terms of regulations, salary, formalization, inspection, access to justice, social protection and state benefits. Under her tutelage, the UPACP offers a job bank with an easily accessible digital platform and ten free training schools for professional development in different areas of the sector, for example, cleaning, child and elderly care, gardening, sexuality, violence and harassment in the world of work.

Carmen’s leadership in the IDWF is indisputable. As the Vice President-elect in 2018 and currently Acting President, her words, representation and political speeches have guided and supported the movement’s collective work to claim labor rights and equality for the sector. Always working as a team, her proposals have propelled the IDWF to continued growth and global recognition. Thanks to her ability to recognize adverse situations and her decision-making in setting clear objectives, her advice has been very useful at the organizational, regional and, in the case of UPACP, at the national level -as was the case during the pandemic.

Carmen’s capacity for articulation, alliance building and social dialogue in the struggle for the labor rights of domestic. At the organizational level, Carmen offers continuity and practical experience in the Federation’s initiatives and projects, such as in training, information development, advice, collective bargaining and sustainability. As part of the Executive Committee, Carmen has demonstrated her unwavering commitment to working in solidarity, with honesty and the responsibility to fulfil the mission entrusted to her by the affiliates, as well as the Federation’s objectives to get domestic workers recognized as any other worker.