Sapne Mere Bhavishya Mera
Women’s Consortium for and by Women: Reclaiming Space, Voice, Agency
Women domestic workers form a highly vulnerable group of workers in the country. Domestic workers are employed in homes, which are considered ‘private spaces’, which excludes them from labour legislations that guarantee personal security and job safety. They often work without clear terms of employment and without state protection, domestic workers lack bargaining power in the workplace. Under paid and discriminated against on the basis of caste, class andgender, domestic workers are rendered extremely vulnerable to sexual harassment in their world of work and gender-based violence in every sphere of their lives. The COVID-19 pandemichas made things worse.
In the first wave of the COVID pandemic in India, domestic workers reported that they were the first to lose their jobs. By the Second Wave of COVID in India, domestic workers in Delhi-NCR who participated in a data study with the Martha Farrell Foundation reported job and income-loss at scale, and desperate conditions of their families for food and survival, making them more vulnerable than ever to sexual harassment in the workplace and gender based violence.
In the aftermath of the first wave of COVID-19, Martha Farrell Foundation partnered with PRIA as Knowledge Partners for the project 'Sapne Mere, Bhavishya Mera' to empower domestic workers with space, voice and agency. Funded by the Netherlands Embassy in India, the project aimed to set up a women-led Resource and Support Centre in Harijan Basti for informal migrant women in particular with the Domestic Workers. Within six months, the project scope extended to Bichpadi Village in Panipat, Haryana, where a second Resource and Support Centre was set up with and by women domestic workers.
The women domestic workers in both locations named their Centers 'Swabhiman' or self respect. Since their setup, the Martha Farrell Foundation has actively worked to capacitate women domestic workers in both centers with knowledge, skill and space to be able to access their rights as women, as citizens and as workers.
"Corona virus isn’t the real
bane of my existence.
My biggest challenge is winning
the battle against routine
emotional and physical abuse"
- a domestic worker from Gurgaon, as quoted in
Martha Farrell Foundation's 2020 report titled
'Those Who Stayed: An anthology of first-person
narratives by migrant domestic workers of their