Women’s Economic Empowerment in Domestic Work
Thursday, 17 June, 2021

ISET is proud to announce its most recent joint research presentation into our impact assessment on domestic work and its influences on female economic empowerment in Georgia. Supported and funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Austrian Development Cooperation, and hosted by UN Women, the presentation aimed to highlight women’s labor rights and access to reasonable work. As economic empowerment is such a vital, and regarded, subject the presentation also sought to publicize the findings of ISET’s research and the WeResearch post-COVID survey to help raise awareness of women’s informal work in Georgia.

In collaboration with UN Women, ISET Policy Institute implemented a regulatory impact assessment (RIA) on domestic workers that emphasized many of the problems that the sector faces. In essence, domestic workers substantially contribute to the economy by providing crucial services to households. Critically, the majority of domestic workers are women and are informally employed, with fewer rights, lower salaries, and poorer working conditions. Georgian law currently only offers provisions for formally employed workers, leaving domestic workers underrepresented, therefore their societal value, treatment, and legal employment are all truly significant issues.

Mariam Lobjanidze, ISET’s senior researcher, provided a concrete overview of the situation and highlighted some key statistics and facts that affect the sector. She also highlighted certain crucial aspects for improvement, such as improving workers’ bargaining power, reducing their risk of exploitation, and increasing awareness of workers’ rights, with the ultimate goal of better working conditions and including domestic work within the Georgian labor code. ISET’s assessment thereafter identified three options to improve the situation, namely, regulatory solution – acknowledging domestic work as a labor relationship; non-regulatory solution – encouraging domestic workers to establish informal/formal associations and increase domestic workers’ awareness level regarding their current rights and transitional option – increasing the awareness of domestic workers initially and introducing the regulatory solution after two years. RIA results suggest that all three options lead to improvement of domestic workers' conditions. The third option – increasing the awareness of domestic workers initially and introducing the regulatory solution after two years – appears to be the most preferred option with the highest benefits to society. At the end of the presentation, Mariam Lobjanidze offered recommendations to improve the sector by increasing the bargaining power of domestic workers, reducing the risk of abuse and exploitation of domestic workers, ensuring that domestic workers enjoy social benefits and social security, and increasing the awareness level of domestic workers regarding their rights.

UN Women also partnered with WeResearch to analyze the effect of COVID-19 on domestic workers. Nana Chabukiani presented the main results of their survey, such as the risk of COVID or loss of employment. She noted that although certain workers have since been driven to approach their employers and to seek codified contracts, they are nevertheless concerned about losing their jobs or additional taxation. The greatest impacts of the pandemic have been economic as often workers have been forced into taking much-needed loans to avoid starvation, where governmental aid was restricted due to the informality of their employment. The presentation was finally concluded with an informative public Q&A.

ISET would like to thank UN Women and our other key sponsors for their continued support, we’re always pleased to back research and enable further discussion into such important, yet undervalued, societal topics.