This dissertation is about the experiences of young women domestic workers in Uganda, in the capital city of Kampala. The study examines how they are organized and where they seek support or advice in case of any disputes with employers. Using remote on-line interviews with domestic workers and some organizations advocating for their social and economic rights. The interviews were semi-structured with one set of questions for the domestic work-ers and the organizations supporting them. Social media such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Zoom were used for the study, due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdown restrictions. The research process was facilitated by two research assistants to access this group through snow-ball sampling, due to lockdown restrictions and difficulties in accessing this informal sector group of workers. Three main organizations were contacted and only two responded. The two organizations that responded were DOWA (Domestic Workers Association Uganda Limited) an NGO created in 2019 and PLA (Platform for Labour Action) which is a national civil society organization founded in 2000. These organizations are involved in promoting and protecting the social-economic rights of domestic workers through empowerment, train-ing, advocacy, and resolving disputes between employers and domestic workers, including the provision of legal aid. Those contacted among the women domestic workers were 15 in total, five (5) working in-house, and ten (10) who worked in homes, on daily basis (work-out DWs) and they were between 18 and 35 years. The reason behind the criteria was to ensure that all the respondents had enough experiences to share and it also helped address those that started working as a child domestic worker before transitioning into adulthood. The key elements of exploitation were in long hours of work, overwork resulting in stress, delayed and very low wages, and examples of physical and sexual abuse. The workload was found to increase during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, but the pay remained the same. Those without employment contracts were more exploited and insecure as job losses were inevita-ble. Finally, the study suggests ways in which the sector can be improved in terms of formal-izing some of the informal arrangements in existence. DOWA is not the only organization with informal sector workers, but protection through contracts depends on membership of one of these support organizations.

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Hintjens, Helen M.
Social Justice Perspectives (SJP)
International Institute of Social Studies

Irumba, Wilson. (2020, December 18). Young women coping with domestic work: experiences from Kampala, Uganda. Social Justice Perspectives (SJP). Retrieved from