States must protect the labor rights and social security of Afro-Latino and Afro-Caribbean women domestic workers

July 25, 2022

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Washington, D.C. - In the framework of the International Day of Afro-Latino, Afro-Caribbean and Diaspora Women, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) highlights the labor precariousness and discrimination faced by thousands of Afro-descendant women in the hemisphere who perform paid domestic work. In this scenario, the IACHR urges the States of the region to implement measures with a gender perspective and an ethnic-racial approach to guarantee the effective enjoyment of their rights to social security and labor protection.

Official data indicate that there are around 14.8 million paid domestic workers in the region, 91% of whom are women, the majority of whom are of African descent and indigenous. The IACHR underscores that, as a result of historical hegemonic and colonial processes in the Americas, Afro-descendant women have been overrepresented in care and domestic work, and due to the specific risks they face, they may be more exposed to situations of vulnerability and discrimination in this context. These patterns of structural discrimination inherited from slavery, such as racialization, precariousness and gender inequality in domestic work, hinder the full exercise of the labor rights of Afro-descendant women, particularly to work under dignified and equitable conditions, and to comprehensive social security.

The Inter-American Commission takes note of the efforts undertaken to improve the working conditions of domestic workers and to eradicate abusive practices in this context, particularly highlighting the ratification of Convention No. 189 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) on the specific protection of domestic workers by more than 15 States in the region. 189 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), on the specific protection of domestic workers, by more than 15 States in the region, while welcoming the good practices adopted in this area, including minimum remuneration and equal pay for work of equal value; reasonable limitation of the working day; legal breaks and paid vacations; employment stability; formalization of contracts; maternity leave; social security and retirement; and minimum age for domestic employment.

However, the IACHR observes challenges to compliance with the Inter-American normative framework that protects women domestic workers, including the right to dignified and equitable working conditions, and to a life free of discrimination and violence, as well as the prevention, punishment and investigation of cases of human trafficking and modern slavery.

Finally, the IACHR, in the framework of the commemoration of the International Day of Afro-Latin, Afro-Caribbean and Diaspora Women, recognizes the contribution of Afro-descendant domestic workers to national and international economies, and calls on the States of the region to ensure the guarantee of and access to their labor and social security rights through the implementation of public policies and practical and effective measures, including an intersectional perspective that allows for the visibility of differential factors such as gender identity and/or expression, age, ethnic-racial origin, sexual orientation, socioeconomic situation, migration status, among others; age; ethnic-racial origin; sexual orientation; socioeconomic situation; migratory status; among others.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate derives from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission is mandated to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The IACHR is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 167/22

5:52 PM