SMS campaign targets health and rights of domestic workers during COVID-19 crisis
An SMS message campaign launched in Qatar is helping strengthen awareness amongst domestic workers and their employers on how to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
The series of messages in 12 languages was developed by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (ADLSA) with the support of the ILO Project Office for the State of Qatar, Migrant-Rights.org and the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF).
The messages provide helpful tips not only on how to prevent COVID-19 transmission but also how to protect the health and rights of domestic workers at home during this challenging period.
“Domestic workers play an essential role in ensuring the health and safety of the families for which they work, from cleaning and cooking, to supporting teleworking parents, caring for children, the ill and the elderly,” says ILO Technical Specialist Alix Nasri.
“It is vital that they have access to up-to-date information on COVID-19 precautionary measures in languages they understand. At the same time this campaign reaches out to employers so they support the health and welfare of domestic workers in their homes during the COVID-19 lockdown, when their services are being so heavily relied upon.”
Messages for domestic workers include basic information on the symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do if they have symptoms, advice on hygiene and sanitation, sending money home via online services as well as keeping in touch with family back home. There is also information reminding domestic workers of their rights and responsibilities – at all times – according to Qatar’s Law No. 15 of 2017 on domestic work.
Messages for employers highlight the need to support the mental and emotional health as well as physical well-being of domestic workers. There are reminders about domestic workers rights relating to working hours, rest periods, days off, and the importance of being paid on time. Employers are also encouraged to help domestic workers open bank accounts and transfer their salary online, as well as provide access to the internet and other forms of communication.
Fawaz Al Rayis, Director of ADLSA Recruitment Department stressed the importance of reaching out to domestic workers and their employers. “Raising awareness about precautionary measures, providing useful advice, and recalling rights and obligations, is key to ensuring both domestic workers and employers are protected during this pandemic. This campaign is an effective way to quickly and widely share important information with domestic workers and their employers, similarly to what has been done in other sectors.”
The messages are available in English, Arabic (for employers), Urdu, Nepali, Bengali, Tamil, Sinhala, Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi, Swahili, Bahasa and Tagalog.