"Why do other workers have rights, but not us?" Maria Perez remembers asking herself when she first arrived to Argentina from Paraguay 25 years ago, to find employment as a domestic worker. Today, after labour organising for decades, Argentina has a new national migration policy, including a new law on domestic workers which demonstrates a strong commitment by the Government of Argentina to regularise and formalise the domestic work sector for nationals and migrants alike.
"I'm very optimistic. I always believed things could be better. Many people thought it was our destiny to be exploited, but I never lost faith that things could improve for us workers," said Maria.
"I work now as a live-out domestic worker, from Monday to Friday. I have a contract and I know my rights. After many years working in Argentina, I will be able to retire and have my pension paid in Paraguay", a satisfied Maria explains. She has also joined the Domestic Workers Union (UPACP) and enrolled in the vocational training course "Servicios en casas particulares" ("Service in private homes"), which UPACP provides to its affiliates free of charge. "I received a Diploma. I framed it and I hung it on my wall. I feel so proud of myself."
"Since the passing of the laws, I have made sure to tell all my friends from Paraguay who also work as domestic workers to request a work contract from their employers and claim the new benefits. Most of them are now part of the formal economy," explained Maria.
"We have to keep demanding respect and make sure all domestic workers have a contract, it is about our future and the future of our children."