Let’s break the silence. Let’s stand tall. Let’s move mountains.
We’ve Come a Long Way and a Long Way We Will Go
– IDWF Announcement on IWD 2022
Let us celebrate our victories.
Let us free ourselves from slavery.
Let us stop the abuse of women in the world.
Conquer only if we can as never before. We can do it.
Let us also remember all those black females that have given their lives for us so that today we can celebrate the 8th of March.
– Myrtle Witbooi, IDWF President
What we have gotten through…
Domestic workers navigate the high level of informality in the sector, the invisibility of the private household, the isolation of labor, the personal dependence on the employer, the stigmatization around reporting abuse, and the absence of intermediary lines of management or colleagues to provide support, the lack of “feminine solidarity” from women employers who tend to align with their class and race privilege instead of defending the worker, the lack of sensitization of officials on gender-based violence, the lack of support to survivors, the corrupt judicial systems, the impunity of perpetrators, and much more. All of this constitutes a minefield for documenting, reporting, and countering gender-based violence and harassment in the sector.
Every domestic worker knows dozens of stories of violence and harassment in the world of work, making it millions of stories. Only a few, make it to the headlines. Even fewer make it to courts. Even fewer make it to tangible policy change. This ought to change.
How far we’ve come…
Despite all of this, we’ve come a long way, with the ILO Conventions domestic workers brought to life and contributed to. ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers and 190 on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work are inevitably intertwined. And so is our liberation, as workers and as women, inevitably intertwined. On this women’s day, we salute the domestic workers who made these important contributions: our affiliates, our allies, and domestic workers everywhere going through daily struggles, carrying a million voices. We see you.
At the International Domestic Workers Federation, we compiled case-work stories on gender-based violence, as well as conducted assessments of domestic workers’ needs countering as they counter the violence inflicted upon them. The learnings are loud and clear: in the overarching absence of specific legislation safeguarding domestic workers from gender-based violence, domestic workers around the world often turn towards creative solutions. These stories must be heard.
Where we will go…
On this women’s day, we launch our campaign aimed to make violence and harassment in the world of work #EverybodysBusiness! We will track gender-based violence happening in the domestic work sector. It is #DomesticWorkNotAbuse, and we will be narrating domestic workers’ stories, condensing their experiences, amplifying their voices, sharing their genius, resourcefulness, and strength. And we need you to join this fight.
We have come a long way,
From taking our labor for granted to valuing it,
From journeying through unpaid to underpaid to fairly-waged labor,
From denying us policies to creating some,
From transforming them from ink-on-paper to impact-in-life,
From enslavement to liberation,
From silencing to representation,
We have come a long way and have a long way to go.