CARAM Asia Statement
AMMAN, JORDAN, 28 August 2008: We are over 30 women and men from the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, United Kingdom, Jordan, Lebanon, Burma, Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Hong Kong SAR and Nepal. We have met in Amman, Jordan from the 25th to 28th of August 2008, for the Roundtable Meeting with multi-stakeholders on Foreign Domestic Workers’ issues in Jordan and the Campaign Strategies Workshop, organised by CARAM Asia, for its on-going “One Paid Day off Weekly” for domestic workers campaign
We have analysed the impact of labour migration for domestic work on women foreign domestic workers in the Middle East region. We are aware that the undervaluation of women’s work, the sponsorship system that is widely practiced in the region, and the remittance driven labour sending policies of origin countries make women FDWs susceptible to abuse, violence, and human rights violations, including their health rights, at all stages of migration.
This consultation and campaign strategies workshop takes forward the reflections and processes that were initiated when the campaign launched, at the third ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC 3) in Singapore, a call to action for the recognition of domestic work as work by including this occupation in the national labour laws of countries. Such a call to action can only be achieved through the legal and social recognition of domestic work as work, subsequently realising the human and labour rights of domestic workers.
We, foreign domestic workers and strong advocates/activists of FDWs’ rights, express solidarity with the decades old, yet still ongoing, struggles of women domestic work against strong patriarchal systems that do not value women’s labour, reflected in the lack of legal protection for domestic workers, both foreign and national workers alike.
This has been an occasion for women domestic workers, community-based migrants’ organisations, migrant support groups, and non-governmental organisations to come together to reflect on and highlight the problems being faced by women FDWs, due to poverty and under or unemployment, being made worse by the rapid economic globalisation processes in origin countries, intensifying the women’s labour migration process.
It has been an occasion for us to reflect on the vital roles women FDWs play for the well-being of their families, communities, and the families that they work for, for the economies of both origin and destination countries, and within social reproduction systems of our society, all roles that need better recognition and valuation. While they provide a great deal for the well-being and function of families and society at large, their own health rights and the quality of life are extremely comprised due to the lack of labour rights in the occupation they work.
It has been an occasion for us to define strategies to counter the negative experiences of women FDWs, to define our vision of migration with rights and dignity, to draw strength from each other, and to bring synergy between our struggles across the regions.
We acknowledge that the cause of women domestic workers is gradually being recognised and that support is being extended by various groups. We are aware that there are some good employers, just as there are very many abusive employers. We do not demonise employers while we critique the structure in which labour migration for domestic work is being operated. The cyclical short-term structure of migration facilitates the enrichment of a handful of recruitment agencies and allows unscrupulous middle men to operate ruthlessly at the expense of foreign domestic workers. At the same time, guilt can also be directed towards origin governments who have been inefficient, or deficient, in protecting their citizens abroad.
Our Campaign demands that:
- Governments enact laws and adopt other measures to ensure that the rights of domestic workers are protected legally, and to change the national labour laws that do not protect domestic workers’ rights;
- The United Nations and International Labour Organisation (ILO) develop new mechanisms for the protection and realisation of domestic workers’ rights;
- Member States ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families; and
- Governments develop redress mechanisms for more effective accountability of non-State actors (employers, recruitment agencies, brokers) for violations against domestic workers.
We call on support from everyone who believe in equality and justice for domestic workers, both national and foreign, by endorsing this statement on this important day for FDWs.