Full of Hope

Emebet organizes domestic workers in Ethiopia


“Domestic workers are at a disadvantage and the international community should know that.”

Emebet is a 28-year-old domestic worker in Ethiopia and a founding member of the Mulu Tesfa Domestic Workers Association (MTDWA). She began working in this sector at a young age shortly after her parents passed away.

In early 2010, while she was working as a part-time domestic worker, Emebet joined a group of 10 domestic workers that had come together and began organizing. They attended various training related to life skills, association rights and leadership and towards the end of 2010 created an association- MTDWA. Emebet is currently the vice president of this association and is focused on promoting and raising awareness on the rights of domestic workers and the ILO convention on decent work for domestic workers. Also, she trains other domestic workers on topics that she had previously received training on. More generally, MTDWA works with local media to raise awareness and collaborates with local leaders and authorities. Recently, it has been working with returnee domestic workers through a rehabilitation program at a center were they manage services such as counseling, food and medication to returnees who need it.

The image submitted to the IDWF is of Emebet drawing pictures that represent the lives of domestic workers. This image is meant to highlight the challenges encountered by domestic workers- mainly exploitation and abuse, job insecurity, low wages, lack of legal protection and access to justice. MTDWA considers it important to always remind everyone that domestic workers have a lot of ups and downs in their lives.

“Mulu Tesfa means full of hope- so even the name is important to us. If we [domestic workers] have hope, then we can do anything.”

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