Research Network for Domestic Worker Rights

The Research Network for Domestic Worker Rights consists of researchers who have been working collaboratively with domestic workers to capture information and document the lives and working conditions of the tens of millions of people who work in the homes of others. Officially launched in June 2011, the Research Network exists to support the efforts of domestic workers by:

  • promoting domestic worker rights in the academic and activist communities
  • strengthening domestic worker organizing efforts through organizing strategy and policy analysis
  • meeting the research needs of domestic worker organizations through principled research, and broad publication and dissemination of results

The Network’s main partner in this mission is the International Domestic Worker’ Network (IDWN).

Goals and Objectives

Research activities can enhance the visibility of domestic work(ers) and strengthen their organizing and bargaining efforts. By bringing the conditions of domestic workers into the mainstream of intellectual debate, domestic workers’ organizations will have significant evidence to help achieve improvements for their members.

At a joint seminar between researchers and representatives from the IDWN in December, 2010 in Amsterdam, it was determined the Research Network would:

  1. create and disseminate a body of literature and knowledge on domestic work and the organizing strategies of domestic workers 
  2. document, compare and assess the organizing strategies of domestic workers 
  3. collaborate with domestic worker organizations in developing a research agenda, and make research accessible to domestic workers and their organizations


As a network that conducts research on domestic work in cooperation with domestic workers, the Research Network for Domestic Worker Rights aims to support their rights, and help them gain respect and recognition. Research is coordinated and conducted based on the following principles:

  • Researchers conduct meaningful, quality research that meets the needs of domestic worker organizing efforts.
  • Researchers remain accountable to domestic workers by consulting representatives of the IDWN and domestic workers’ organizations.
  • Members of the Research Network present, publish and disseminate research results to promote domestic workers’ activities and rights.
  • Research results are made accessible to domestic workers and their organizations.
  • Research is conducted in a principled way that respects and supports the empowerment of domestic workers.
  • The Research Network works to build a community of like-minded researchers in the field.
  • Trusting, communicative relationships are cultivated with
    researchers and representatives of IDWN and domestic workers’

The Research Network acknowledges that the academic integrity of researchers must be safeguarded and accepted academic rules must be followed. However, researchers are expected to discuss their findings at forums in which domestic workers’ representatives are included and their views, in particular if they differ from findings or opinions expressed, incorporated into publications. Forums should also be organized as physical meetings which can be used by IDWN for having internal discussions and debate.

Current and Future Research Issues

During the 2011 International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, members of the Research Network for Domestic Workers Rights met with the IDWN to further discuss research needs and plans. They agreed on a number of topics for research including documentation and analysis of contentious issues at the ILC, mobilizing of domestic workers in different countries in the context of international relations, and the ILO story on decent work for domestic workers, including IDWN organizing strategies.

For further details read more in network’s Newsletter No. 1 (August 2011).

Researchers interested in working on any of these issues or learning more should contact the Research Network for Domestic Worker Rights by email.