The ILO's Domestic Worker Convention (C189): Challenging the Gendered Disadvantage of Asia's Foreign Domestic Workers?


  • Stuart C. Rosewarne University of Sydney



Domestic Worker Convention, globalisation, International Labour Organization, migrant domestic worker,


The International Labour Organization's Domestic Worker Convention, resolved in June 2011 and soon to come into force, is regarded as a watershed in the struggle by a host of civil society groups to get paid domestic work formally recognised, draw such work out of the shadows and secure employment rights and protections for this overwhelmingly female workforce. In covering all paid domestic work, the Convention can also be seen as an important initiative in promoting decent work for migrant workers and especially the many recruited from Southeast Asia and South Asia. However, improvements in employment rights and conditions will likely be frustrated by the inadequacies of the ILO as a global institutional force able to engage member nation states as well as by the entrenched structural inequities in international labour markets marked by barriers based on gender, race and ethnicity, nationality and religion and irregular employment. Progress will depend on the effectiveness of those civil society groups which were instrumental in the negotiation of the Convention to maintain the momentum to break down the barriers and states' reluctance to implement measures that abolish labour market disadvantage.