Past Event! Note: this event has already taken place.

What is Work? Rethinking the Formalisation of Domestic Work as the Pathway to Dignity

November 13, 2023 at 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Location:In person, 2224 Richcraft Hall (Carleton University), with webinar participation possible
Key Contact:Cati Coe


In 2011, to much acclaim and after much activism by domestic worker organisations, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) passed a new and historic Domestic Workers Convention (no. 189) and a Domestic Workers Recommendation (no. 201), aimed at improving the conditions for domestic workers and recognising them as workers, a formal legal status that they had often been denied in national labour legislation. Two events will be held on Monday, November 13th to evaluate the promises and impact of the convention on domestic workers’ everyday experiences and organising efforts.

Roundtable Discussion:
Domestic Worker Organising in Latin America
3.00-5.00 pm, In person, 2224 Richcraft Hall (Carleton University), or by webinar participation

The roundtable discussion will feature a discussion of domestic worker organising in Latin America by four scholars:
María Lis Baiocchi (FLASCO, Argentina)
Friederike Fleischer (Universidad de los Andes, Colombia)
Brandon Hunter-Pazzara (Georgetown University, US)
Dario Valles (California State University, Long Beach, US)
Moderated by Erynn Masi de Casanova (University of Cincinnati, US)

Keynote Address:
Caring for Care Workers: Domestic Workers Organization and Resistance in Times of Crisis
Jean François Mayer
Department of Political Science, Concordia University
5.30-7.00 pm, In person, 2224 Richcraft Hall (Carleton University), or by webinar participation

This presentation focuses on the lived experiences of the women of the Union of Domestic Workers of the City of São Paulo (STDMSP) during and after the pandemic. The STDMSP adapted to the crisis by diversifying its capacities beyond its habitual advocacy-driven concerns, to emphasize service and solidarity provision. In particular, the everyday informal provision of care and psychological support by union activists to domestic workers allowed the STDMSP to retain relevance and increase its legitimacy, leading to a boom in membership. Far from remaining passive in the face of oppression, domestic workers also devised a series of hidden and open strategies to resist workplace violence. Overall, findings suggest that unions can play a key role in empowering and organizing domestic workers when offering care and solidarity provision –particularly psychological support—in addition to their usual advocacy services.

Public Reception
7.00-8.00 pm, Richcraft Hall Atrium

Supported by the Department of Political Science, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, the Institute of Political Economy, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program, and the Faculty of Public Affairs at Carleton University as well as the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.