Paid domestic work plays a dual role in women’s economic empowerment

Paid domestic work plays a dual role in women’s economic empowerment

Kedibone Mdolo-DENOSA

The Care worker as a Domestic worker was defined as ‘a person employed to support and supervise vulnerable, infirm, or disadvantaged people, or those under the care of the state’. Skills needed for a domestic worker are: the ability to work on your own initiative and prioritise workload, team work & problem solving skills, good listening and communication skills, the ability to understand and follow policies and procedures as also in the home there are rules, norms and way of doing things. Communication between the employer and employee is very crucial. There must be a contract between the two parties. It is the role of the union to make sure that the members are developed.

In addressing the question asked on ‘What does a sustainable model that addresses the rights and needs of the care workers and those care-receivers looks like?’.

 The answer will point out that Sustainability is very important and in this context Sustainability is defined as an array of concepts, including preservation, maintenance and the support of long-term strategy. Sustainable models of care support the most innovative, effective and efficient use of resources. 

The following are principles that are followed in care of a patient but this will be used for the topic we are dealing with. Those are as follows:

Worker centred care: care is tailored to the individual needs of the patient/worker and the family/employer. The patient/employer is informed and supported by shared decision making in partnership with health care providers/employee in a culturally safe environment.

Best practice care: care is delivered according to evidence-based practice which is adaptable to different world of work.

Consistent and appropriate care: unwarranted variation in practice is minimised as care is provided in the right place by the right people and as close as possible to home.

Integrated service networks: comprehensive care is provided across services with agreed treatment and care pathways.

Measuring, monitoring and improving practice and outcomes: an all of system approach is integral to an improving quality health system/ working environment.

Models of care that include these features will be successful in a highly collaborative environment.

The second question ‘What need to be changed? What need to be put in place to achieve the goal of a sustainable model in the care economy?’

A PSI will like to emphasise that the most important element needed it an economic system in which genuine caring for people and nature is the top priority. (Caring economies are currently found in Nordic nations like Finland, Norway and Sweden, where their policies combine the positive elements of both capitalism and socialism).

The union believes that there must be government-supported child care programs, generous paid parental leave, funding for families caring for children or elders, universal healthcare, devotion of high percentages of wealth to aid the poorer nations (equal wealth distribution), Minimal Income Standards and Policy changes are needed to address these issues as concerns as country’s ability to meet future caregiving needs are growing along with our aging population.

PSI and its affiliated trade unions at the global level are resisting with all our strength privatization. PSI argues that privatisation has failed and for really constructing   gender equality, essential services need to remain in public hands and PSI proposed that:

  • Public-public partnerships and public-community partnerships are a way of doing it, with a joint work with social movements.
  • One source of public investment in public services have to come from  taking effective action against tax fraud and putting in place progressive tax systems, as well as, fighting corruption.
  • Universal access to essential services (health, education, water, energy, social care, social protection, wage & security protection) Access to quality public services, including housing, healthcare, education, transport, water, electricity and sanitation.
  • Address the patriarchal way in which those services are delivered or organized. (Policies, institutions and practices; e.g. Safety?).
  • But also the fight for gender justice and GRPS, includes public sector women workers and the achievement of DECENT WORK (SDG8).

Some examples of the achievements of labour especially in South Africa that are contributing to Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work includes but not limited to:

  • The Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which provides for maternity leave and a small amount of family responsibility leave (although not meeting labour’s demand for 6 months minimum fully paid maternity leave)
  • The Employment Equity Act, including the code on equal pay for equal work and work of equal value
  • The Skills Development Act, giving employees a right to be developed
  • Ratification of the ILO Convention 189 for Domestic Workers, aimed at improving working conditions and advocating for decent work in the sector (albeit with challenges related to implementation)

In conclusion, PSI & its  affiliates emphasises that it is critical to note that legislation (papers) cannot implement itself, and neither can it address the structural inequalities in the economy.  Without the restructuring and transformation of this radicular inequality economy, including employment creation and redistribution of wealth, legislation will not fundamentally alter the lives of marginalised working class women, instant will tend to benefit those that are more privileged

Secondly, the impact of reduced or insecure incomes and problems associated with social security appear to be leaving increasing number of people without income or with a reduced level of income leading to food bank uptake (Lambi-Mamford, 2014; Mumbi-Mamfort and Dowler, 2014). And lastly, Labour organisations believe that commitment to women’s emancipation and substantive gender equality will be measured not only by decrees and pronouncements about women’s rights and gender equality but also by tangible and material measures that address patriarchal barriers to women’s full participation in the economy.


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