Sen. Pia takes cudgels for world’s domestic workers

News Release
17 October 2014

Sen. Pia’s appeal to world’s parliaments: Adopt UN, ILO conventions on domestic workers’ rights

Senator Pia S. Cayetano has appealed to leaders and members of parliaments from 164 countries to take a bold step towards protecting the world’s domestic workers, a great majority of whom are women, by adopting international instruments which guarantee their basic rights and those of their family members.

Delivering the Philippine statement at the 131st General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on Thursday, Cayetano highlighted the alarming rise in cases of violence and physical abuse committed particularly against the women who make up 83% of the world’s estimated 52.6 million domestic workers.

“Of the 52.6 million domestic workers worldwide, 83% are women. Close to 30% are excluded from national labor legislation, 45% have no entitlement to weekly rest periods or paid annual leave, [while] more than a third of women domestic workers have no maternity protection,” said Cayetano, who chairs the Philippine Senate Committee on Women, Family Relations and Gender Equality.

A ‘domestic worker’ is defined by the International Labor Organization (ILO) as ‘any person engaged in domestic work within an employment relationship.’

The senator, who served as president of the IPU Coordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians from 2008-2010, urged her colleagues from IPU member-states to adopt ILO Convention No.189, the Domestic Workers Convention of 2011, which seeks to promote decent work for all domestic workers worldwide, including migrant domestic workers or “those who need to work outside their countries of birth.”

The ILO convention, the senator noted, also recognizes the special conditions under which domestic work is carried out. Not only is domestic work undervalued and ‘invisible,’ it is also mainly performed by women and girls, many of whom are migrants or members of disadvantaged communities, and are particularly vulnerable to discrimination and abuse with respect to employment conditions and labor rights, she pointed out.

Cayetano likewise cited the need for the world’s parliaments to adopt the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

Both the UN instrument and ILO Convention No.189, she said, embody the commitment of member-states to ensure effective promotion and protection of the human rights of all domestic workers.

But to date, she lamented that only 14 countries, including Philippines, have adopted ILO Convention No.189, while only 47 countries, also including the Philippines, have so far ratified the UN Convention.

“For those countries which have not ratified both the ILO and UN Conventions, I ask the invaluable help of all of us gathered here today to call on your respective governments and urge them to ratify these very important agreements now,” she appealed.

“Alone we can continue making small strides, but together, we can change the world and make it a better place for women and their families.” #

PHOTO: Senator Pia S. Cayetano and Senate President Franklin Drilon at the 131st General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva.

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