“We count on parliaments to ratify and implement Convention 189”—Executive Director

Statement by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women, on the occasion of the announcement by the Government of Jamaica of its ratification of ILO Convention 189 on 22 September 2016


Today’s 67 million domestic workers are a huge and vital force whose contribution to our economies has been too long overlooked and insufficiently rewarded. The vast majority (83 per cent) are women from poorer sections of society and many are migrants, both factors that make it hard for them to be heard.  Most are excluded from labour laws and social security protection, consolidating and deepening their lack of status, distancing them from their rights, and entrenching them in poverty. This is why ratification of ILO Convention 189 on Domestic Workers is critical, together with its next steps of domestic law reform and implementation.

We have seen the difference this Convention makes in women’s lives when it is put into effect. In Mauritius, over 50,000 domestic workers saw their access to pension funds improved; in Brazil, a constitutional amendment guaranteed equal rights for women workers; in South Africa, reliable minimum wages established domestic workers’ creditworthiness with banks and maternity leave supported health; and in Thailand, a New Ministerial Regulation offered better protection of domestic workers’ rights.

I warmly commend the Government of Jamaica on their announced ratification of Convention 189, becoming the first government to respond to the recommendations in the report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment. I call on all governments to turn their attention to the most vulnerable women workers in society and take this step ahead. We count on parliaments to ratify and implement Convention 189, and we will work with our partners in civil society to secure the rights of domestic workers to decent work.