Why Kenya Needs to Speed Up the Ratification of ILO Convention 189

Jun 24, 2024 | Articles | 0 comments

In today’s world, domestic workers (DWs) form the backbone of our households and the care economy. They provide essential services, ensuring the well-being of families by taking care of homes, children, the elderly, the sick, and people with disabilities. Despite their invaluable contributions, domestic workers in Kenya often face significant challenges, including lack of legal protections, inadequate social security, and poor working conditions. Domestic workers enable millions of other workers to participate in the labor market, contributing to the overall economy while providing peace of mind that their loved ones are well-cared for. The growing demand for care services underscores the critical role these workers play in society. However, their work is frequently undervalued, leading to precarious employment conditions.

In Kenya, many domestic workers are excluded from national labor legislation, resulting in long working hours, no rest time, low wages, and exposure to abuse, violence, and harassment. The International Labour Organization (ILO) reports that globally, 36.1% of domestic workers are excluded from national labor laws, and 81.2% are informally employed, lacking access to social protection. ILO Convention 189, adopted in 2011, is a landmark treaty aimed at ensuring decent work for domestic workers. It sets out the minimum standards for domestic workers, including fair wages, reasonable working hours, and access to social protection. Despite its significance, Kenya has yet to ratify this convention, leaving many domestic workers without the protections they need and deserve.

Benefits of Ratification

  1. Legal Recognition and Protection: Ratifying ILO Convention 189 would formally recognize domestic workers as workers, affording them the same rights and protections as other employees.
  2. Improved Working Conditions: The convention mandates fair remuneration, reasonable working hours, and adequate rest periods, improving the overall quality of life for domestic workers.
  3. Access to Social Protection: Domestic workers would gain access to healthcare, retirement benefits, and maternity leave, providing them with much-needed social security.
  4. Formalization of Employment: By formalizing domestic work, the convention would help reduce informality in the sector, ensuring that workers receive the benefits and protections they are entitled to.

Youth Alive Kenya reaffirms its commitment to supporting domestic workers and calls on the Kenyan government to expedite the ratification of ILO Convention 189. By doing so, Kenya can take a significant step towards ensuring that domestic workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Let us work together to create a future where every domestic worker enjoys decent working conditions and the full exercise of their human rights. Ratifying ILO Convention 189 is not just a legal obligation; it is a moral imperative. Let us stand up for domestic workers and acknowledge their vital role in our society.


Author- Rahma Issa

Programs Officer Social Wellbeing and Gender Equity




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