Today is International Domestic Workers Day. It is also the 9th anniversary of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (№189), that sets labor standards for domestic workers.
55 million domestic workers (out of 67 million domestic workers worldwide) have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. (ILO) Domestic workers are workers in private households, 75% of whom are employed informally. They are carers for the sick, children, the elderly. They keep homes clean, do the laundry, prepare meals, and more. In many cases, these workers are essential workers — particularly those who support the sick and elderly.
During the pandemic many of these workers have lost their jobs, without income replacement or access to financial support through unemployment benefits. According to the ILO, only 10% of domestic workers have access to social security. Those that have been able to continue, may have had to work without any adjustments for health and safety, such as increased protective gear or sufficient and necessary information for protection in the workplace during a pandemic. Many workers may have also been forced to quarantine with employers during local lockdowns, to go without pay, or to experience a significant cut in their salary. In many cases, for domestic workers, particularly migrant domestic workers, the loss of income can be devastating for family members they support in their home countries, some of whom rely on these cash remittance for the day to day essentials. …
you hold this burden,
in the cavity of your chest,
in a tangle of seams,
stalactite cathedral of memory.
this frozen space,
can we ask it to break,
soft cleft pressed apart
by piercing light, to tear open
a flood of understanding.
this unraveling stream
let it overwhelm,
let it carry