|Foreign Domestic Workers Campaign|
Where was this CARAM Asia FDW Campaign initiated?
The concern for the protection of human rights of domestic workers was brought to international attention by the cumulative advocacy of many organisations working with foreign domestic workers. Following the 2002 Colombo Regional Summit on Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs), the decision was made by participating organisations to launch a global FDWs campaign.
One of the tools developed for this campaign by CARAM Asia was the FDW Campaign Toolkit. The objectives of the toolkit are: to provide a resource for implementation of the campaign, to conceptualise ways in which the campaign may be planned and executed, and to build the capacity of domestic workers and their support groups to take up the campaign. CARAM Asia, together with its domestic workers communities, used a participatory action research (PAR) method to gather information. Using the collected information, problems were identified and feasible solutions proposed through a set of action tools and campaign strategies. Though the development of the campaign toolkit was initiated by CARAM Asia, it is indeed a collective effort as the toolkit contains enriching contributions from other regional networks working on migration, women’s human rights, and domestic workers issues.
As part of the global campaign, CARAM Asia’s regional campaign was launched upon completion of the toolkit. That campaign launch took place in Thailand at the regional training of trainers, for the campaign toolkit, in August of 2007.
Not long after that, the United for Foreign Domestic Workers Rights (UFDWRs), a coalition of regional or international groups was also formed to initiate regional campaigns to advocate for foreign domestic workers’ rights. Read about the UFDWRs here...
Visit the UFDWRs blog here...
What is the campaign all about?
The FDWs Campaign being carried out by CARAM Asia is a regional campaign for the recognition and protection of FDWs’ rights. An outcome of the 2002 regional summit on FDWs, the campaign objectives are to recognise domestic work as a socio-economic activity and have it included as a legally protected employment. The core thrust of the campaign is to use appropriate instruments to address the lack of human rights of domestic workers and take measures to provide better access to healthcare.
The key demands of the campaign are:
* To include domestic work under the current national labour laws of both origin and destination countries, or introduce a Domestic Workers Act specifically protecting the rights of domestic workers
* In the absence of labour laws safeguarding domestic workers’ rights, to have the States ensure that a weekly day off for domestic workers is guaranteed in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), standard employment contracts, or other guidelines.
* To establish mechanisms or a government body to monitor the implementation of a weekly day off and provide domestic workers’ access to redress in the event their right to a day off is violated
* To have the States ensure that domestic workers’ basic human and labour rights, such as overtime, adequate rest periods, nutritious meals, privacy, and safety, are protected and realised in both origin and destination countries.
The campaign calls for:
* Recognition of domestic work as work
* Realisation of one paid day off a week
* Resistance to violence against domestic workers
The target audience of the campaign
For now, the campaign is aimed towards domestic workers, migrant’s, women’s, and human rights organisations, social movements, trade unions, and relevant stakeholders – employers and inter-governmental agencies. The campaign is also directed at the UN, particularly the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Special Rapporteurs relevant to foreign domestic workers issues. Treaty bodies, such as CEDAW, the Convention on the human rights of migrants and their families, and CRC, would also be considered part of the campaign target audience. When this regional campaign is taken up at the national level, the target audience will change accordingly to the national context.
The campaign plans include a three pronged approach: awareness raising, lobbying, and advocacy.
* Launch the campaign at the national/community level exposing different groups to the issues of FDWs while continuing to highlight the need for protection of domestic workers with national level stakeholders.
* Continue awareness raising activities, including statement releases on special days concerning women FDWs, taking part in marches, and introducing the campaign in different arenas.
* Network and build alliances to disseminate campaign information at activities of other social movements, as well as participate in key international mobilisations such as the International Migrants Alliance, the Global Forum on Migration and Development, and other major activities.
* Lobby the UNHRC and the UN Special Reppoteurs on the need for the protection of domestic workers
* Lobby the ILO, through trade unions, giving input during the establishment of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention
* Lobby national governments to enact laws and adopt measures to protect domestic workers
Advocate with women’s, human rights, and other movements to adopt the campaign agenda
The expected outcomes of the campaign
* Increased protection of women domestic workers’ rights, highlighting their gender specific needs and migrant status
* Greater access to basic workers’ rights that are enjoyed by workers from other sectors: a weekly day off, standard working hours, minimum wages, an environment free of physical and verbal abuses, etc.
* Enhanced visibility of the issue among the women’s and labour rights movements
Who can join FDW campaign?
Any organization or individual that subscribes to the Colombo Declaration on Human Rights of domestic workers, which recognizes - the need to protect and realise the rights of domestic workers, the awareness that domestic work is work, and the necessity of giving domestic work its due legal protection and social recognition.
One can contribute through purchasing campaign materials like T shirts, sending campaign postcards to relevant government agencies, and endorsing our campaign statements and calls.
For more information
Visit the UFDWRs blog here...