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Push to Formalize African Domestic Workers

Millions of domestic workers in Africa continue to work under sometimes appalling conditions with very little pay. Trade unionists are increasingly calling for them to be integrated into the formal sector. The ongoing plight of informal domestic workers in Africa has amplified calls to integrate them into the formal employment sector. The Domestic Workers International Labour Organization convention of 2011 promised a new beginning for domestic workers, referred to in some parts of Africa as house helps. However, little progress has been made toward the realization of these objectives. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), eight out of 10 domestic workers lack effective labor and social protections due to their informal status. The convention primarily recognized that “domestic work is work” and domestic workers have a right to decent work, like any other worker. Furthermore, the convention stipulated that each member state take measures to ensure that domestic workers are informed of their terms and conditions of employment. Out of 35 countries that have signed the treaty, Madagascar, Mauritius, Namibia, Sierra Leone, and South Africa are the only African nations.