New Treaty to Establish Labor Protections for Domestic Workers
The International Labor Organization (ILO) adopted a groundbreaking treaty yesterday to extend labor protections to domestic workers. The ILO, made up of trade unions, employers' organizations, and governments, voted overwhelmingly to adopt the ILO Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, which institutes the first global standards for domestic workers. Key elements of the convention require governments to provide domestic workers with protections equal to those of other workers, such as minimum wage, overtime compensation, social security, maternity protection, and daily and weekly rest periods. These standards also require governments to protect domestic workers from violence and abuse.
Experts say there could be over 100 million domestic workers worldwide, 83% of whom are women or girls. Domestic workers are particularly vulnerable because they work in private homes isolated from other workers, and until now have been largely excluded from labor protections guaranteed to other workers. Domestic workers face a wide range of abuses and labor exploitation, including non-payment of wages, physical and sexual abuse, forced labor, and trafficking.
According to the ILO, domestic workers in Asia are the most vulnerable. 95% or more of domestic workers in Asia receive salaries below minimum wage and there is no limit on their weekly hours of work, which means that the majority do not get regular weekly days off. The ILO noted that in the Philippines, domestic workers receive half of the minimum wage in the National Capital regions, and even less elsewhere, while over half of them work more than 10 hours a day.
Nisha Varia, senior women's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, noted, "Discrimination against women and poor legal protections have allowed abuses against domestic workers to flourish in every corner of the world. This new convention is a long overdue recognition of housekeepers, nannies, and caregivers as workers who deserve respect and equal treatment under the law."
Media Resources: GMA News 6/17/11; IRIN News 6/17/11; Human Rights Watch 6/16/11
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .