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About Us

published Sep 10, 2014 06:22 PM

Who are we?

We are a membership-based global organization of domestic and household workers.  A domestic or household worker is any person engaged in domestic work within an employment relationship.  We believe domestic work is work and all domestic and household workers deserve to enjoy the same rights as all other workers. 

Our objective is to build a strong, democratic and united domestic/household workers global organization to protect and advance domestic workers’ rights everywhere.

As of April 2022, the IDWF has 84 affiliates from 65 countries, representing over 600,000 domestic/household workers' members. Most are organized in trade unions and others, in associations, networks and workers' cooperatives.

Our Brief History

The First Domestic Workers International Conference

Just like other workers, domestic workers began organizing since long time ago in many places of the world. It was only in November 2006 that they first came together at an international conference, hosted by the FNV Netherlands. Then they formed the idea of building an international network for all the domestic workers.

With the support of the IUF and Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), and the strong role played by the International Trades Union Confederation (ITUC), the Global Labor Institute (GLI) and ILO, this international networking flourished.

The C189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers

It was at the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva in 2009 that the International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN) was launched, by leaders of some key domestic workers’ organizations from across the world: the regional network of domestic workers in Latin America and the Caribbean CONLACTRAHO, the Asian Domestic Workers Network (ADWN) in Asia, the National Domestic Workers' Alliance (NDWA) of the USA, the South African Domestic Services and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU), Jala-Prt (Network for Domestic Workers Advocacy) in Indonesia, IPROFOTH in Peru, and the National Union of Domestic Employees (NUDE) in Trinidad & Tobago. They formed the first Steering Committee to lead the organization. A team of Coordinators was appointed to carry out programs of activities in the regions and internationally, supported by a technical team formed by representatives of the IUF, WIEGO and GLI.

The main objective then was to mobilize domestic workers' organizations and their allies worldwide to win an ILO Convention to protect rights of domestic workers - a goal, clear and specific. In June 2011, the ILO Convention C189 Decent Work for Domestic Workers was won, a huge and historic achievement not only for domestic workers, but also the entire labour movement.

    From "Network" to "Federation"

    It was after this success that the Steering Committee took the major decision to transform the IDWN from a loose, informal 'network' to a formal 'federation' of domestic workers organizations. Two main tasks were then carried out: to develop a draft Constitution for a global organization of domestic workers and to invite the national or local domestic workers' member-based organizations already working closely with the IDWN to become formal members.

    At a meeting in May 2012, the Steering Committee approved the membership applications of 14 domestic workers' organizations, as the first group of affiliates of the IDWN. Finally on the 26th – 28th October, 2013, the Founding Congress was held and the IDWN became the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF).  About 180 domestic workers leaders participated in this historic event. 

    Representatives of some of our long-standing allies and partners were there as well: the IUF including many of its affiliates, WIEGO, the ITUC and its regional organization in Latin America, ILO, Human Rights Watch, GLI, etc..

    Awards for IDWF

    Awards IDWF has been receiving:

    YearAwarded ByAwards
    2021 SOLIDAR

    2021 Silver Rose Lifetime Achievement Award: Myrtle Witbooi, President of IDWF

    2018 An initiative of Ashoka, Open Society Foundation and UN Women

    IDWF has been selected as one of the 12 Winning Changemaker Organizations of the Challenging Norms, Powering Economies Initiative

    Myrtle Witbooi: Finalist for the Challenging Norms, Powering Economies challenge

    2017 Shirley Pryce is CARICOM "Woman of the Year"
    2017 CSC Service Union Sr Jeanne Devos Award
    2017 The Bishop Tji Haksoon
    Justice & Peace Foundation
    The 20th Justice and Peace Award
    2015 Global Fairness Initiative Global Fairness Award
    2015 SOLIDAR

    Silver Rose‬ Award

    Category: Organising International Solidarity

    2014 Governor General of Jamaica Order of Distinction
    2014 Jaap Kruithof Award
    2014 Marcelina Bautista receives the Mexican National Award for Equality and No Discrimination
    2013 AFL-CIO George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award