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Research by the Centre for Migration Studies (CMS), University of Ghana, has recommended five policy initiatives to regulate and enhance the positive contributions of migration for domestic work.

The research on “Migration for Domestic Work in Ghana: Implications for Poverty Reduction,” indicates that effective regulation remains critical in promoting the domestic work industry for the benefit of domestic workers( including migrants), employers and the general economy.

According to the study conducted by the Centre’s Migration out of Poverty Team, such policies must promote small and medium-sized towns across Ghana as alternative centres to rural-urban migrants. 

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It also called for scaling up of public education on the rights of domestic workers, and the strengthening of relevant state agencies both financially and technically to implement international and national conventions on the protection of migrants working in domestic service.

Also, the study stressed the need to “Institute and enforce legal instruments to regulate wages and work conditions in the informal sector, including the domestic work sector,” and that the “Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations and the Labour Department must be strengthened to monitor the activities and operations of recruitment agencies effectively.”

“Facilitate the ratification of International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 189 on decent work for domestic workers to protect domestic workers as well as recognise the gendered character of the informal economy and domestic labour in developing policies and programmes to address vulnerabilities in domestic work,” it said. 

The release of the findings of the study comes after the world marked the International Domestic Workers’ Day, which focused on securing protection and enhanced welfare for domestic workers.

Dr Joseph K. Teye, a Research Coordinator of Migration out of Poverty Consortium at CMS, presenting the findings of the research at a workshop for members of Media Network on Migration (MENOM), in Accra said “domestic work contributed significantly to the functioning of households and the labour market for Ghana’s economic and social development.”

But as a result of it being poorly regulated and undertaken outside the realm of labour regulations, it is widely undervalued, resulting in low wages for workers.

Although Ghana has no holistic policy on domestic work, he said there were various laws and conventions which provided an overall policy and institutional framework for conditions of work and in providing for the rights of workers, including domestic work.

“These include the 1992 Constitution, the Labour Act (Act No. 651 of 2003) and its legislative instruments, the Children’s Act and the Domestic Violence Act.

Dr Teye said the findings indicate that while domestic workers, in general, face several challenges which are related to the unequal power relations, there are gendered differences in the experiences of male and female migrant domestic workers in Ghana.

“While male migrant domestic workers receive relatively higher salaries and have a higher status in households because of their skills, which give them stronger agency, the multiple household tasks performed by female domestic workers are under-valued.

“Female domestic workers receive lower salaries even though they work longer hours than male domestic workers.

“Part of this problem is because patriarchal gendered norms are transferred to the domestic work market,” he noted.

The findings, he said, also suggested that the portrayal of migrant domestic workers as passive agents and as victims, may not always reflect the entire situation as they exercise some agency and employ several forms of strategies to survive in the various contexts and to influence and shape their work conditions.

“Given the fact that the informal sector is the primary economy of Ghana, this means that most workers in Ghana do not enjoy the protection of labour laws.  Furthermore, the informality of domestic work and its occurrence in the private sphere has meant that their rights are often not enforced.

“The formation of a Domestic Service Workers’ Union in Ghana should provide avenues for the regulation and protection of domestic workers. It is therefore important that policies protect the rights of migrant domestic workers, recognise and understand these nuances in order not to disadvantage migrant domestic workers further,” he added.

By: ADR Daily Newsdesk

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