Where we work

The IDWF has 85 affiliates from 66 countries, representing over 615,000 domestic/household workers’ members in seven regions.

To find more about our affiliates,

Informal economy is not a marginal phenomenon within the African continent, as it accounts for the employment of 85.8% of the population. It provides employment for 89.7% of the employed women and is thus responsible for their livelihoods. This makes domestic work a vital part of the African economy, which has been experiencing modest, yet stable growth, before the hit of the pandemic. While some countries have ratified the ILO C189, many continue to disadvantage domestic workers by excluding them from labor policies. Our work in Africa centers around domesticating the provisions of the international standard, through working extensively on acquiring social protection, including sick paid leave, maternity benefits, among others. The unions continue to grow in size and in number, and strengthen their governance through the enforcement of democratic practice, supported by our staff in the region.
The legal conditions governing domestic work are diverse across countries. Asia is increasingly urbanizing, which in turn increases domestic work as a source of wage employment for women. There are an estimated 860,000 to 1,400,000 DWs in Indonesia, and 860,000 to 1,400,000 in the Philippines, most of whom are women and girls. The plight of domestic workers in the continent is intertwined with other environmental, migration, racial and ethnic struggles. The increase in the numbers of DWs led by urban growth requires immediate attention. Our work in the region is at the heart of recognizing domestic work as work and supporting the unionizing efforts in various restrictive environments. A great attention is also paid to migration and the global care chain as countries in Asia are both of origin and of destination for many domestic workers.
Many countries in the Caribbean share the common historical experience as British colonies exporting primary agricultural products using enslaved and indentured labor. Since, some countries have transitioned into exporting raw materials or relying on the tourism sector. They are also highly indebted economies, with Jamaica incurring the highest national debt of 125 percent of GDP. Despite lifting the economy for decades if not centuries, gross national product and national income do not account for the value of domestic labor. Post-colonial societies continue to place more value in labor that requires education, understood as highly skilled, at the expense of manual labor and other labor that does not require a formal education. Our work in the region works on broadening the gains of C189 and C190, taking into account the contextual struggles in the region.
While states in the European Union have regulatory frameworks that enable the workers in Personal and Household Services (PHS), or domestic workers, access to some job protections, in the countries that ratified the ILO Domestic Workers Convention 189 (C189), COVID-19 has still dispossessed many workers. Despite the recognition of domestic workers as workers in Europe, they are often excluded from general Occupational Health and Safety regulations or working time regulations. The sector provides 8 million jobs across Europe. We support domestic workers in Europe working on the agenda of care, so that they never have to experience such dispossession again.
Many countries in the Caribbean share the common historical experience as British colonies exporting primary agricultural products using enslaved and indentured labor. Since, some countries have transitioned into exporting raw materials or relying on the tourism sector. They are also highly indebted economies, with Jamaica incurring the highest national debt of 125 percent of GDP. Despite lifting the economy for decades if not centuries, gross national product and national income do not account for the value of domestic labor. Post-colonial societies continue to place more value in labor that requires education, understood as highly skilled, at the expense of manual labor and other labor that does not require a formal education. Our work in the region works on broadening the gains of C189 and C190, taking into account the contextual struggles in the region.
Domestic workers in the Middle East and Gulf region are mostly migrants. They have been historically struggling under the Kafala system, an exploitative sponsorship that links the residency of Migrant Domestic Workers (MDWs) to their employer. The legality of the MDWs depends entirely on the employers’ decisions; the workers themselves are denied multiple rights and can access goods and services only to the extent decided by the sponsor. Henceforth, MDWs are vulnerable to legalized exploitation. In the region, our staff works on building grassroots power of domestic workers, increasing their capacity, enabling them to partake in advocacy and lobbying activities, and outreach to their colleagues to build a larger base.
Our affiliates in North America come from a long history of organizing in civil rights, racial justice, and migration movements. They work extensively on countering laws that purposefully leave out domestic workers, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as unjust practices in live-in arrangements that create an unequal environment prone to dozens of unpaid hours. In the US, there are approximately 530,000 DWs providing In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) to low-income seniors and people with disability, as reported by the Union of Domestic Workers (UDW). Immediate assistance to their needs is a crucial matter for public health concerns. US policies also affect DWs migrating from central America to the US get stuck in transit countries on the Southern and Northern Mexican borders. Revising these policies would alleviate injustice beyond the geographical scope of the US.