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Mitigating the Effects of COVID-19 on Wage Earnings for Female Domestic Workers in the Informal Economy in Ecuador and Brazil 38 Executive Summary The spread of the pandemic in 2020 has severely limited the progress on gender equality. COVID-19 not only has highlighted the preexisting inequalities women and girls face in society as a whole but also has intensified the impact of such inequalities onpoverty andwage earnings of women and girls (United Nations). In Latin America, domestic services are plagued by low wages and exceedingly high informality. Furthermore, women are an overrepresented group in the domestic work sector and tend to earn lower wages than their male counterparts and others in the informal economy (ILO Stat, Tokman). Ecuador and Brazil have similarities in their social context, where paid work at home is marked by patriarchal and sexist violent relationships, discrimination, and xenophobic segregation that have been maintained throughout the years. This labor sector, for the most part, is made up of indigenous girls and women, Afro- descendants, and forced migrants, who, from a very early age, consider this their only opportunity to enter the labor market. Unfortunately, domestic work is little valued and poorly recognized. In Ecuador, its Constitution, laws, and international instruments regulate this practice, but in reality, domestic workers and their rights are not respected, allowing exploitative relations between employees and employers to be perpetuated. Domestic workers often do not receive theminimumwage or social security and do not know their rights or have access to recourse against discrimination, let alone violence. These countries do not have adequate national registration systems that provide updated and reliable information on the number of people who carry out this activity. One of the objectives of ILO Convention No. 189 is to ensure the protection of the labor rights of people who perform housework and to oblige nations to implement mechanisms in support of such rights. Article 6 specifically Policy Brief on the Future of Work MARTINDALE CENTER outlines the obligation to adopt measures “to ensure that domestic workers, like workers generally, enjoy fair terms of employment as well as decent working conditions…” (ILO a). The current state of affairs for domestic workers globally, specifically in Brazil and Ecuador, reveals a huge challenge that must be faced. Domestic labor, and the women who largely perform such work, must be recognized and their labor dignified through appropriate social, political, and economic policies that will improve their quality of life and enhance the society overall. In this sense, we believe that change begins with new and disruptive ideas. To that end, we propose several recommendations that focus on education and offer respect for and support to these workers. Issues and Challenges According to UN Women, domestic work employs approximately 1/7 of women working in Latin America and the Caribbean. Furthermore, women are exceedingly overrepresented in domestic work as they constitute 93% of the domestic workers in Latin America and the Caribbean. Despite wage rate regulations, domestic workers earn significantly less than the average employed person and are frequently subject to informal work, placing them, and specifically women domestic workers, at a strong economic and social disadvantage (UNWomen et al.). Female domestic workers generally are a part of the larger informal workforce, and as such they may be undocumented, often live just above the poverty line, and may not qualify for or even seek government support in normal times. As a result, they frequently arenot registeredwith social protectionprograms, and they tend to depend on less formal or unregulated financial services providers, such as pawnshops and payday lenders (CGAP). Some of the most pressing issues for this These Martindale Center Policy Briefs on the Future of Work were prepared by teams of students and young professionals serving as Research Externs with the Lehigh University / United Nations Partnership working in affiliation with the International Labour Organization. Authors: Erika Albán Cano • Stephanie Brabender • Marissa Hastings • Emily Michnowski • Annie Sanchez • Nelli Yen • Rozhin Zahrouni Series Editor: Stephen Cutcliffe, Ph.D. February 2021 Mitigating the Effects of COVID-19 on Wage Earnings for Female Domestic Workers in the Informal Economy in Ecuador and Brazil