Who we are

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What Are We

We are a membership-based global organization of domestic/household workers.  By domestic/household worker we mean any person engaged in domestic/household work within an employment relationship.  We believe domestic work is work and all domestic/household workers must 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/household workers’ rights everywhere.

As of January 2014, we have 47 affiliates from 43 countries.  Majorities of them are trade unions and others are associations and workers coops. 

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..

What We Do

The 5-Year Action Plan, adopted at the Congress guides us in moving forward. 

In 2014, our key activities are:

  • organizing of migrant domestic workers in India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Argentina and Ethiopia;
  • ratification of C189 in Tanzania, Benin, Indonesia, Chile, Brazil, Peru and Jamaica;
  • enactment of domestic workers policies/legislations in countries, particularly India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Brazil and Chile;
  • campaign against excessive recruitment fees on Indonesian migrant domestic workers;
  • to participate in the ILO processes on "Trafficking and Forced Labour" and "Transitioning from Informal to Formal Economy”: to provide inputs on the ILO reports and participate at the ILC in Geneva in 2014;
  • conduct strategic development planning among our affiliates;
  • to hold capacity-building and gender training activities with our affiliates, e.g. in Nepal, Cambodia, Kenya, Tanzania and Guinea;
  • launch of CoP (Community of Practice) and training on web-based communication technique;
  • production of a domestic workers training manual;
  • coordinate international action day activities on March 30, May 1, June 16 and December 18;
  • to advocate for legal reform to protect migrant domestic workers in the Arabic and GCC countries.

2014 © International Domestic Workers Federation