Question: Do women work outside the home and what kind of work do they do?
In researching topics concerning women working in Brazil, I found multiple articles about women participating in domestic labor and how it is a large portion of the formal workforce in Brazil for women in particular. A domestic worker is a person who works in their employer’s household, doing household work and/or taking care of the employer’s children. An article by Public Radio International, a global media company based in the U.S., discusses how “domestic workers have long been a stable of Brazilian culture” (PRI). There are seven million domestic workers in Brazil, which is more than any other country in the world. Most of these workers are women. They also tend to be black, working-class and have had little schooling. Some of these women also had to go into domestic work because they lost their families or their parents could not support them financially. The article also discusses how after Brazil’s abolition of slavery in 1888, domestic labor was the leading way black women could work, which is why many of the domestic laborers in Brazil today are black. The current infrastructure in Brazil does not support a family’s needs in connection to maternity care and children, making families still dependent on domestic labor.
Unfortunately, historically, these women and domestic workers in general in Brazil have not been treated well by their employers or guaranteed basic worker’s rights. It was only in 1972 that Brazil granted domestic workers legal rights. Even then, those rights were not complete and domestic workers could still be mistreated by their employers. According to an article by Equal Times, a trilingual global news website based in Europe, there was not much else legislation passed on the behalf of domestic workers until 2015, when Brazil “introduced a comprehensive law on the rights and duties of every individual” (Equal Times). This law forced employers to declare any domestic workers in their household to the government and ensure that proper contracts were created between them and their workers, ensuring better rights for the domestic laborers. Suddenly, workers were granted higher salaries, pensions, unemployment contributions and accident insurance, benefits they had not had before. There was also a limit to the working day and prohibition of child labor, ensuring that workers were not underage or were not being overworked. Although a lot has been done for domestic laborers, especially women, there is still more to be done. Since the introduction of domestic work, there was a stigma against it and it was not thought of as a real job. The article in Equal Times discusses how there “needs to be more done to achieve social recognition for domestic work… even with international laws and commitments in place, it will take time for social perception in this area to change” (Equal Times).
In an article from Women’s Studies International Forum, an academic journal, there is a discussion about how this social recognition is changing and how women in the domestic labor industry are working to change it themselves. The article, entitled “Intersectionality and female domestic workers’ unions in Brazil”, discusses how female domestic workers themselves have used the intersectionality of class, race and gender to work with movements in order to publicize themselves as professionals. The article discusses how, as individuals from multiple oppressed minorities, women, black and low-income, these workers have developed their own brand of feminism in order to fight for their rights as professional workers and as citizens in Brazil. They have aligned themselves with political parties and multiple social movements in order to foster a greater sense of respect for domestic workers and laborers. They have also used these movements to fight for their rights with their employers and through these movements have gained greater power within their jobs and within the country.
“Brazil’s Domestic Workers Get Help with App.” Public Radio International, PRI, www.pri.org/stories/2018-06-14/brazil-s-domestic-workers-get-help-app.
“The Precarious Status of Domestic Workers in Brazil.” Equal Times, www.equaltimes.org/the-precarious-status-of-domestic#.W0kbey2ZOqR.
Bernardino-Costa, Joaze. “Intersectionality and Female Domestic Workers Unions in Brazil.” Womens Studies International Forum, vol. 46, 2014, pp. 72–80., doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2014.01.004.