Maria advocates workers’ rights as part of the Domestic Workers Movement in Guatemala


Photo: Maria de los Angeles was photographed in Guatemala City on April 13, 2018, as part of CARE's Domestic Workers Campaign © 2018 Nancy Farese/CARE 


Maria de los Angeles is a domestic worker and a member of a domestic workers group in Guatemala, who organize and education women to prevent the mistreatment they have suffered in domestic work. The domestic workers’ movement across Latin America, has been organizing workers since the beginning of the 20th century.  

CARE has been a long-term ally with the Domestic Workers Movement in Latin America, working to build meaningful relationships and action with local grassroots organizations within the region.  


Photo: Domestic Workers organizing group: Maria Faustina, Maria de los Angeles, Fidelia Castellanos, Eloida Ortiz and Floridalma Cartrera were photographed on Apr 13, 2018 in Guatemala City © 2018 Nancy Farese/CARE 

Women constitute almost 95% of the domestic labor force in Latin America

In Latin America, there are more than 19 million paid domestic workers representing around 7% of the urban workforce in the region, and 37% of domestic workers in the world. In a 2018 study by CARE Ecuador, CARE Honduras and CARE Guatemala, a large percentage of domestic workers came from poor, indigenous or Afro-descendant families, who migrate from rural or border areas to cities to work in the homes of families with a privileged economic position. 

8 out of every 10 domestic workers in the region claim to have been the victims of some type of violence at their places of work. In Ecuador, sexual abuse, harassment, and rape are daily occurrences for many of the 300,000 domestic workers.  

By educating communities about women’s rights and values, and offering training in advocacy, financial management, and political organizing, CARE empowers women’s organizations to create their own change and break down the barriers that have kept women trapped in the cycle of poverty. 


Fighting for workplaces free from violence

On 21 June 2019, the International Labour Conference voted YES to adopt Convention 190, a new global law to end violence and harassment in the world of work. For the first time ever, there would be a global, legally-binding treaty dealing specifically with keeping workers everywhere safe from violence and harassment at work.   

While this was a significant victory, it was only the first step. The Convention will only officially come into effect one year after two Member State governments have ratified it. Once a government has ratified the Convention, they have one year to get their house in order and enact the necessary legislation to comply with the Convention’s stipulations.  

CARE is joining the 16 Days Campaign, from November 25 – December 10, to keep the pressure on governments to ratify, implement and enforce the ILO convention. Women like Maria are doing their part to organize and advocate for safe workplaces, but now it is time for governments to step up.