A Transnational View on Domestic Workers’ Organising Against Violence

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Giulia GAROFALO GEYMONAT, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy, Italy
Sabrina MARCHETTI, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy
In correspondence to the ILO Convention 189 (2011) coming into force, scholars and activists have increasingly turned their attention to domestic workers’ groups, investigating the original forms of organising that this traditionally ‘unorganisable’ workforce managed to develop in the last decades.

The transnational domestic workers’ movement arguably represents a unique case to study the ways in which social change in the field of gender violence may be produced intersectionally. Evidence suggests that, while domestic workers globally articulate their claims in the labour rights field, their struggles keep at the center the issue of violence - symbolic and material - that they are subjected to, at work and outside, also on the basis of their intersectional subordinated social positions - as migrant women, ethnicised women, or women of lower classes and caste. Labour organising in this case appears to go hand in hand with self-help work around self-image and identity, and domestic workers mobilise deep emotions related to stigmatisation, shame and silence.

The present paper addresses these questions by taking a comparative look at domestic workers' organising in the nine countries involved in the DomEqual project: India, Philippines, Taiwan, Italy, Germany, Spain, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil. We focus on how transnational relations were and still are played out in these movements around the ILO C189, and how they are relevant to their current involvement in the ILO roadmap towards a Convention on Violence and Harassment at Work. We try to assess the encounters, tensions and collaborations taking place at the regional and international levels on issues of violence against domestic workers, both among domestic workers’ groups and between these groups and other governmental and non-governmental organisations working in the same field or in close-by fields, namely in relation to race and caste, migration and trafficking, women’s rights, labour rights, and disability.