The Importance Of Decent Work For Domestic Workers

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INTRODUCTION Paid domestic work’s global scope and the necessity to improve its generally harsh working conditions, invisibility and undervaluation worldwide have been in 2011 recognized by the adoption of the international labour standards contained within the ILO Convention (No. 189) and the Recommendation (No. 201) concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers. Given its isolation from the public gaze and its gendered nature, by which I mean that it rests on “the daily operations of both masculinity and femininity in relationship to each other and to the workings of power” (Enloe 2007, 244), domestic work tends to be systematically rendered invisible and undervalued, including within the sphere of public policy. In many countries, domestic workers are excluded from the national labour regimes, or treated as workers of inferior level. Even when the labour standards, do apply, they are often poorly met by employers and undermined by a lack of enforcement mechanisms (Chen 2011, 178). The present international regulatory framework, thus, aims to address the long-standing policy gaps and to encourage efforts to professionalize, formalize and recognize the value of paid domestic work, which is associated with and overwhelmingly performed by women marginalized along class, race/ethnic or geopolitical axes of power. In the wake of the ILO Convention, efforts to regulate domestic work have intensified. While policy scholars have been debating how to best protect and improve the

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