Donate your action and voice this Labour Day for domestic workers

May 1, 2018

What’s the story?

In 2011, when the landmark treaty ‘Decent Work for Domestic Workers’ was ratified at the 100th Session of the International Labour Convention, it signalled a beacon of hope for millions of women and girls who work as domestic workers in private homes.

Yet in 2018, this global workforce is still underpaid, overworked, poorly regulated and often subject to violence and sexual abuse, in particular because many countries still lag behind in passing legislation to protect domestic workers from these violations.

While Kenya has made progress in passing labour laws that require a minimum wage, social security and medical insurance for domestic workers, most are still at the mercy of their employers.

What you can do this Labour Day


‘Dignity in Labour’ project pushes for decent work for domestic workers

Hivos East Africa is therefore joining the human rights labour movement in Kenya to advocate for decent work for domestic workers. On this International Labour Day, May 1, we spotlight the vital contribution domestic workers make to running homes throughout Kenya smoothly – by cooking, cleaning and taking care of children.

Our new project ‘Dignity in Labour’ seeks to strengthen Kenyan domestic workers’ economic and labour rights by building a movement through unions that will organise them to speak with one voice.

The project also aims to improve employee and employer relationships by using urban resident associations to influence the discussions surrounding ‘Fair WorkPlaces’. These are spaces that respect their domestic workers and guarantee them a safe work environment.

Convincing the government to create robust social protection policies, especially on healthcare and retirement benefits, is crucial. Together with ‘Dignity in Labour’ partners, Hivos East Africa will lobby the Kenyan government to ratify ILO Convention Number 189 that defines the standards of decent work for domestic workers.

As a social innovator, Hivos East Africa is also developing an app for Android and GSM platforms that will provide domestic workers with both professional services and a sense of dignity. The app will set fair wages, help workers find decent work and build a sustainable information and support network.


The app provides a platform where potential employers and employees can easily find each other and connect. Employers can request a domestic worker based on her qualifications, ratings by previous employers, availability and terms of service. Domestic workers have the option of rejecting a request based on poor ratings of the potential client. It also includes domestic workers’ referrals from accredited agencies as well as official identification details of employers and workers.

You can spread this message on Twitter using the hashtag: #AtWork.