Education and Protection: Domestic Workers

Regional campaings

Education and Protection: Domestic Workers


Several millions of children and youth in Africa are involved in domestic work, an occupation that exposes many of them to slavery-like conditions, multiple forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence and deprivation of education. Both child and adult domestic workers remain largely “invisible”, neglected by society and by national legislations and government programs, despite growing attention in the past few years in relation to the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) promotion of the Decent Work agenda.

Since 2010, the IDAY network has been campaigning for the protection, legal recognition and training of child and adult domestic workers in Eastern Africa and the DRC. Building on the long-standing expertise of local organisations on this issue, IDAY and its partners are convinced that legal recognition of domestic work and the provision of education opportunities are paramount to eliminating child domestic labour and promoting domestic workers’ rights.

Countries: En cours : DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda Coming : West Africa Tanzania and Zambia

Phase 1 : Advocacy campaigns and sensitisation in East Africa and DRC – 2014-2016

IDAY members from East Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) decided to launch a regional program to integrate the domestic workers into the education for all. The problems of the living and working conditions of the African domestic workers remain numerous: low or no salaries, long working hours, few or no holidays, violence in different forms, unsecured employment, no written contracts, etc. Thanks to EU funds, IDAY started national surveys in 5 countries: Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, DRC and Burundi with 14 partners to collect quantitative and qualitative data from 22 000 stakeholders; child and adult domestic workers and their employers. These data were necessary to support the 4 axes of the campaign:

  1. 1. Advocacy campaigns for the recognition and legalization of domestic work and the ratification of the ILO convention 189;
  2. 2. Awareness raising to inform the population of the living conditions of domestic workers;
  3. 3. Training programmes adapted to working age domestic workers;
  4. 4. Legal protection for child and young domestic workers often victims of abuses.
Key figures of the survey

There are 8,5 million domestic workers in these countries 1 domestic worker out of 3 is under legal age of work! 5 national surveys were conducted and 22 000 domestic workers and employers interviwed.

Few results obtained after the campaign
  1. 1 Adoption of a minimum salary (USD 99) for domestic workers in Kenya;
  2. 2 Revision of the labor law in Kenya with explicit reference to domestic workers. The law refers to the ILO Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labor;
  3. 3 Creation of a domestic workers’ union in Rwanda (September 2016);
  4. 4 Rwanda officially forbade children work by ministerial decree dated May 10 2016. This decree mentions explicitly children domestic workers;
  5. 5 Provincial authorities in the East of DRC have instructed local authorities to supervise the case of children domestic workers and organize their schooling;
  6. 6 Ratification process of ILO Convention 189 on decent working conditions of domestic workers started by preliminary tripartite meetings in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda & Burundi;
  7. 7 The training center for young domestic workers in Uvira (South Kivu) became self- financed as from September 2015;
  8. 8 Creation of a framework for discussion among local authorities and civil society in Kivu to follow up on cases of abuses of domestic workers.

Results are available in the report below.

Evaluation and audit

The programme was a success confirmed by the independent evaluation and audit carried out on behalf of the European Commission by an external consultant, Mr Sadiki Byombuka Onésime and by KPMG. The evaluation states: The project made it possible to highlight the specific issues that arise in respect of child and youth domestic workers. It has the merit of intensifying the understanding of how important it is to protect them and take care of their fate. It has contributed to increasing awareness of domestic workers, their employers, families and community as well as local authorities for better social and legal protection. In terms of impact, this project has started to yield remarkable changes. The evaluator thus strongly recommends carrying on a new phase based on the acquired results of the project, and also specifically integrating specific direct services by way of training of domestic workers. The independent audit led by KPMG designated by the European Union, demonstrated that 99,77% of the total expenses have been correctly reported in the project accounts of the 6 local project units for the first two years of implementation to which the audit applied.


Find out more on the dedicated website of the campaign

Waiting for funds – Phase 2 : Training and Protection of Domestic Workers

The next step is to test domestic workers projects consisting of returning those workers under official working age to school and providing professional training to the adult workers. The training programme will be based on a curriculum agreed with the government. IDAY has already a strong experience in training domestic workers: (i) a curriculum tried and tested in Burundi, (ii) functional training centres (of which some are self sufficient after 3 years) in Rwanda (Kigali), Burundi (Bujumbura) and DRC (Bokolisi and Uvira) and (iii) a model adapted to local conditions, allowing youngsters to keep their job during the training (it is impossible for a destitute young African to be out of work several weeks in a row!). IDAY is currently looking for funds to start the Phase 2 of this programme in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, DRC and Burundi with interested partners.

Waiting for funds – Programme in West Africa

The proposed activities will concern the social inclusion of the domestic workers, in particular girls and kids coming from the street. The type of activities will vary from country to country depending on the status of the domestic workers in each country. They will cover 3 main areas of analytic work intended to prepare the establishment of vocational training centres in close collaboration with the governmental authorities. 1. National Surveys The surveys cover the number and socio-economic profile of the domestic workers (age, geographical and social origin, literacy level, etc.) and that of the employers as well as both the workers’ and employers’ expectations in terms of training and skills. They are conducted with multiple partners, including the government and local authorities, the National Institute of Statistics and local civil society organizations. These surveys will serve as a basis for the development of vocational training both in defining the needs of workers and employers and as a lever to involve the authorities in the process of developing and recognizing the training curriculum. 2. Development of a National Curricula and Training Experience shows that trained domestic workers benefit from better working conditions and their relationship with their employers improves. Hence, IDAY promotes training programmes adapted to working age domestic workers. The first step to scale up the approach is the creation of national curricula in “household arts” that include literacy training, algebra, languages, hygiene and cleanliness, childcare, cooking, politeness, welcoming guests, first help, citizenship and participative democratic rights and obligations. This step is necessary to ensure government recognition of the workers’ certificate at the end of the official training programme. The programme is scheduled so as to fit with the limited free time of the workers so that they can keep their job during the training. The curricula will be developed with the Ministry of Education of the participating countries. 3. Advocacy and sensitisation campaigns One of the first steps is to assess the legal and policy framework for domestic work in the country. The analysis will focus on three areas on which advocacy actions are planned: i) Integration of child domestic workers in policies against child labour and in child referral mechanisms; ii) Recognition of domestic work as a full-fledged profession; iii) Training opportunities for domestic workers. The results of these assessments complement the survey findings to address practical and specific recommendations and provide benchmarks for legal and policy changes. At a later stage and based on those studies, the advocacy and awareness strategy towards the authorities and the public at large will be built and will include: media campaigns, production of IEC material, video, theatre play, community activities, high level meetings, national/regional seminars, etc

Sustainable Development Goals: