On September 5, 2013, the ILO Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers (Domestic Workers Convention or C189) entered into legal force. This groundbreaking new treaty and its accompanying Recommendation (No. 201) establish the first global standards for the more than 50 million domestic workers worldwide—the majority of whom are women and girls, and many of whom are migrants—who clean, cook, and care for children and elderly in private households.
The Domestic Workers Convention provides desperately needed and long overdue protections for domestic workers and represents a significant breakthrough in human rights, including labor rights, women’s rights, and children’s rights. Despite the critical role that domestic workers play in providing key care services to households— including cooking, cleaning, child care, and elder care—they have been routinely excluded from standard labor protections. According to the ILO, almost 30 percent of the world’s domestic workers are employed in countries where they are completely excluded from national labor laws.