Who are domestic workers?

This page is designed to inform you through short video clips about:

1) Who domestic workers are, and why they need support
2) La Casa de Panchita & AGTR: structure, mission, and values
3) La Casa de Panchita activities, workshops, and events
a. for women domestic workers
b. for young girls prone to child domestic labor
c. for volunteers (spanish and non-spanish speaking)

Have more questions? Please refer to our contact page to ask us directly!

1) Who Are Domestic Workers? Why Do They Need Support?

Q: Who are domestic workers?

Like for any other employment, domestic workers have legal rights and obligations. Their work is crucial for societal function and growth, and these women should always be respected and treated with dignity.

Q: What drives these women to become domestic workers?

Many women in Peru have chosen this path. In fact, it has been estimated that presently around 357,141 people in Peru are domestic workers (Ministry of Labor).

Of course, each woman (or girl) has her own personal reasons and life story. Some choose this path because they genuinely enjoy the work. They enjoy cooking and taking care of children.
Others, however, have been forced into unfavorable employment deals because of various factors which are often tied together – some being poverty, lack of education, limited alternative opportunities, and familial issues… In fact, many girls are forced into domestic labor at a very young age: we call this Child Domestic Labor (Trabajo Infantil Domestico).

Q: Why is child domestic labor a hazardous occupation for girls?

There are a large number of risks associated to child domestic labor, particularly when children start working as early as 8 years old.
Firstly, the nature of the work itself can be hazardous – including the use of toxic chemical products for cleaning, as well as sharp knives and hot appliances for cooking. Children are often too young to safely perform these tasks which require much caution.
Secondly, girls working in domestic labor at a young age may be exposed to situations of abuse and harassment – whether it be physical, emotional, or sexual.
According to reports in AGTR’s book “Protegiendo a trabajadores infantiles domésticos,” many girls working at a young age in domestic work showed signs of low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. They also manifested problems in concentration, which affects their productivity and ability to effectively complete their education. Finally, they suffered from high levels of stress and exhaustion.

Q: What are the typical educational levels of domestic workers?

Graduating from high school is one the biggest challenges domestic workers face. Since they start working at an early age, they often skip two to three years of school. To make up for this, if their employers allow it (as they are legally obligated to do), the girls may enroll in evening schools.
Unfortunately, evening schools are less beneficial because they lack resources and are academically poor. For most teachers at these schools, this is their second or even third job. They are therefore typically less energetic and engaging than professors who work during the day. The students will also be less attentive and productive during late hours because they will be tired from their day of work. It is crucial for domestic workers to rest regularly in order to maintain their mental health.
This lack of education can immobilize these women. Without self-confidence about their capabilities, and without the educational diplomas, it can be hard for these women to change career paths and follow their dreams.

Unfortunately, since the job of domestic workers is informal and unmonitored, employers can easily get away with disrespecting these women’s basic rights. In fact, some refuse to pay due wages regularly or do not pay the total amount that was agreed upon. There are also cases in which employers do not provide adequate sleeping arrangements or regular meals to live-in domestic workers.

Q: What does the law say about Domestic Workers?

 As clearly stated in the Law of the domestic workers Nº 27986, employers must:

  • Provide salary and social benefits according to the mutual agreement of all parties.
  • Domestic workers are entitled to food during their working hours.
  • Live-in domestic workers are entitled to accommodations within the financial means of the employer.
  • Domestic workers are entitled to a continuous 24 hours of rest per week.
  • Domestic workers are entitled to paid holidays during bank holidays.
  • Domestic workers earn two weeks of paid vacation each year.
  • Employers must pay for the employee’s health insurance through the government’s social security system.
  • 15 days of notice must be given before terminating employment. Employers can choose instead to terminate immediately and pay an amount equal to 15 days of salary.
  • Employers must facilitate employees’ education endeavors.

In Peru, only a very small percentage of employers hire adult domestic workers formally. The vast majority skip their obligations and in consequence violate the law. Initially, domestic workers who are unaware of their rights do not see the informality of their employment as being a problem. However, this can cause many issues down the road.

Time off: Rest is crucial for humans’ mental and physical health. Depriving these domestic workers of their basic rights can have lasting negative psychological effects. With no time to spend with family and to make new friends, these women can feel isolated and alone. Furthermore, if they spend all of their time with their employers, they are constantly in a position of inferiority. This can lead them to feel submissive, affecting their self-esteem and confidence – which can in turn lead to depression and loss of motivation.

Mental / Physical / Sexual Abuse: Some domestic workers are victims of mental, physical, and sexual abuse. These experiences are evidently psychologically destructive to the affected women and girls. They may lead to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

For more information about this, watch the video below.

Motivation, Seeking Better Lives, and Following Dreams.

Unfortunately, as discussed in the video, the nature of the work may lead to low self-confidence and lack of motivation.
Some women work towards getting degrees from evening schools. To help them achieve their goals, La Casa De Panchita offers a variety of classes and empowerment workshops (more information below).
We asked several domestic workers about their dreams for the future.

2) La Casa de Panchita & AGTR: structure, mission, and values

Structure: Asociación Grupo de Trabajo Redes (AGTR) is a non-governmental organization based in Lima, Peru. La Casa de Panchita is AGTR’s institutional venue – a point of reference for child laborers and adult domestic workers.

Mission: To eradicate child domestic work, promote access to domestic service for adults, and defend  their legal rights.

Values: Gender equality; respect for all people; social responsibility in the fight against inequality; and recognition of domestic workers’ full citizenship and rights.

3) La Casa de Panchita: activities, workshops, and events

a. for women domestic workers:

  • Legal counselling concerning labor issues
  • Sexual harassment counselling; emotional assistance
  • English classes, IT classes
  • Workshops on self-esteem, finance, nutrition, dance, handcrafting
  • Workshops on taking care of infants and of elderly people

b. for young girls prone to child domestic labor:

  • Learning reinforcement with access to a library with scholar textbooks and computers and school tutoring
  • Recreational, cultural and historical excursions
  • Education in sexual and reproductive rights
  • English classes, IT classes
  • Workshops on self-esteem, nutrition, rights and duties, dance, handcrafting and more

c. for volunteers (Spanish and non-Spanish speaking)

  • Participating in educational and recreational activities with children in child domestic work
  • Supporting job training sessions and job placement
  • Conducting interviews with child domestic workers in day and evening schools
  • Developing specific workshops or teaching classes
  • Participating in international conferences on child domestic work
  • Organizing cultural and recreational excursions for the volunteers and staff



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