ROULA SEGHAIER

INTERNATIONAL DOMESTIC WORKERS FEDERATION (IDWF)


INTERNATIONAL DOMESTIC WORKERS FEDERATION (IDWF)

THE IDWF

On November 15th, 2021, MDWinfo interviewed Roula Seghaier, the Strategic Program Coordinator of the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF). IDWF is a global membership-based organization of domestic and household workers. The organization's main objective is to protect and promote domestic workers' rights around the world. It is registered as an NGO, it is organized in 82 affiliates from 64 countries, and it represents around 600,000 domestic workers.

The main activities of the Secretariat and the various affiliates are organizing workshops (e.g. on gender-based violence), congresses, and panels, holding campaigns, and conducting research on policies and rights of domestic workers. In 2017, they launched an online communication network for domestic workers around the globe in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO). They also implement capacity-building activities to strengthen unions among domestic workers and to inform migrant domestic workers about their rights. To be part of IDWF, unions must be led by domestic workers.

ILO C189 AND ITS CHALLENGES

Regarding the ILO Convention on Domestic Migrants (C189), the interviewee emphasized that the advocacy of many NGOs, domestic workers, unions and various stakeholders was very important in moving the negotiation of the Convention forward and that it did not come about through a top-down process emanating from the ILO. It was developed through a tripartite process, meaning that all employers, workers, and states with their different interests had to find a common ground. During the negotiations, they encountered resistance from states regarding diplomatic immunity. The main problems in implementing the ILO Convention 189 are related to the lack of recognition of domestic work and the lack of organization of domestic workers, which is why the IDWF is seeking to build a global movement.

IDWF'S STRATEGIES

IDWF is pursuing regional and sub-regional strategies to tailor its approach to specific contexts. For example, in Africa, maternity leave is mostly respected, while in Latin America, reproductive justice is still a source of concern for several movements. In the MENA region, the fight against racial capitalism plays an important role, as "the darker you are, the less you are paid". IDWF's advocacy for migrant domestic workers ecounters high levels of diversity, which make it difficult to create a "unified voice for a strong united movement".

HOW TO GET INFORMATION AS A MDW?

MDWinfo also tackles practical issues that migrant domestic workers have to face when actually moving to another country and seeks to provide resources from which workers can benefit. For this purpose, Seghaier explained that bilateral agreements exist between the host and the sending countries. She also suggested that one possibility for migrant domestic workers to inform themselves about work situations in advance is to contact their local union or the respective Ministry of Foreign Affairs.