Izwi Domestic Worker Alliance is a network of domestic workers in Johannesburg. We provide:
Information and advice on employment issues, and assistance with individual cases.
Training programmes, events, and social activities.
Collecting and sharing the stories and experiences of domestic workers.
Izwi was started by a group of domestic workers who wanted to change the way they are treated by employers, and by society in general.
In order to break down the isolation and vulnerability that domestic workers face, we are building a support network of individual workers, neighbourhood groups, and partner organisations. A steering committee, elected from amongst the members, oversees Izwi's growth and direction. Read on to see what Izwi has done so far.
Domestic workers number 1.3 million women (and about 50,000 men) in South Africa -- equivalent to agriculture and mining labour combined. However, they are strikingly absent from labour movements and media coverage.
Employed by individuals in private homes, their work arrangements are often precarious and informal, leaving them isolated and vulnerable to abuse.
Exploitation ranges from poor working conditions, illegal hours, and below-minimum wages, through to physical, verbal, sexual and racial abuse — all behind closed doors of private residences, which are generally immune to regulatory oversight.
Globally, there is a growing movement to shed light on abuse and to professionalise the domestic worker industry. In South Africa, Izwi and its partners are standing with domestic workers so that their voices will be heard.
Izwi to date
Since its launch in 2018, Izwi has:
Built a network of ~1000 female domestic workers for labour rights education and support.
Supported over 400 individual cases of mistreated workers.
Developed multiple active What’s App groups to field questions and mobilise around issues.
Launched 12 neighbourhood groups that provide peer support, trainings, and social activities.
Hosted monthly meetings to respond to individual concerns, and to discuss growth and advocacy issues.
Triggered extensive media coverage on domestic workers challenges, allowing workers to share their stories.
Co-founded and coordinated the One Wage Campaign a civil society campaign against the exclusion of domestic, farm and EPWP workers from the national minimum wage.
Provided food assistance and rent support to members impacted by Covid-19 economic crisis.
Some of our core partners include:
Casual Workers Advice Office
Goethe Institute, South Africa
Hlanganisa Institute for Development in Southern Africa
Lawyers for Human Rights
Sexual Harrassment Education Project
Simunye Women Workers Forum
Socio-Economic Rights Initiative (SERI-SA)
South African Domestic and Service Allied Workers
United Domestic Workers of South Africa (UDWOSA)