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Domestic Workers League of ACV-CSC Brussels

Primary GCM Objectives

GCM Guiding Principles*

*All practices are to uphold the ten guiding principles of the GCM. This practice particularly exemplifies these listed principles.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


2018 - Present

Type of practice

Partnership/Multistakeholder initiative

Geographic scope



Sub Regions:


Members of the Domestic Workers League are mostly residing in the Brussels Region. However, the League’s activities aim to influence not only local and national policies, but also policies impacting migrant domestic workers at the European Union level.


The Domestic Workers League, set up in 2018, is a support and advocacy group established under the Migrant Workers Committee of the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (ACV-CSC) in Brussels to give migrant women working as domestic workers in Brussels a space to discuss their challenges, identify solutions, and develop and implement advocacy and campaign strategies to influence policies that have an impact on their access to their rights. Through the League, ACV-CSC reaches migrant domestic workers and informs them of their rights. Migrant domestic workers are also able to seek direct assistance from ACV-CSC to navigate various systems in Belgium (social security, migration status, access to health care and other) and in case they face violations of their labour rights.

On the International Domestic Workers Day on 16 June 2023, the League organized a number of advocacy events to communicate the demands of undocumented migrant domestic workers to the Parliament of the Region of Brussels-Capital as well as the broader public. This involved the first ever strike of undocumented migrant domestic workers in Belgium, staging of a tribunal in the form of a theater play in front of the Justice Palace (Palais de Justice) in Brussels and a public debate on the key role of domestic workers in our societies.

The League continues to bring forward migrant domestic workers’ demands to decision makers through ongoing advocacy and campaign activities (links under Question 17). For example, on 14 June 2024, on the eve of International Domestic Workers' Day, the League is organizing a migrant domestic workers’ strike as well as a public play “Government of Political Courage” which will be staged by the art group Le Comité Collective. The protagonists will be played by the members of the League. Their main demands include:

  • Protection against abuse: domestic workers are demanding legal protection to enable them to file complaints in safety and dignity against abusive employers, notably by means of a residence permit during the complaint procedure
  • Legal access to work: domestic workers are also demanding legal access to the labor market, so as to put an end to their precarious situation and to be able to contribute to the social security scheme
  • Access to education and vocational trainings
  • The right to choose one’s employer and work


Main Implementing Organization(s)

Confederation of Christian Trade Unions - ACV-CSC

Detailed Information

Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (ACV-CSC) Brussels:

Partner/Donor Organizations

Christian Workers Movement/Mouvement Ouvrier Chrétien - MOC

Benefit and Impact

The League’s permanent activists are around 20 migrant domestic workers, all women. But the League reaches many more migrant domestic workers through their activities such as their chorus, theater plays they stage and strikes they organize. For example, around 250 participants contributed to the activities organized around the International Domestic Workers Day in 2023. The League of ACV-CSC provides migrant domestic workers a safe space to discuss their challenges and creates a peer support group. Through the League, migrant domestic workers learn about their rights as migrants, as women and as workers, and equip themselves with tools and skills to advocate for these rights.

Through many public events they have organized (see below), migrant domestic workers were able to raise their issues vis-à-vis the broader public. For example, the events organized by the League as well as the campaign videos they have produced have been broadcasted in national and regional TV channels in Belgium. Their film “Nous les Domestiques Modernes” was also screened in France and Canada. The League and their official representatives are frequently invited to events around women migrant workers’ rights, not only in Belgium but also in the UK, Ireland, Italy and France.

The League has also filed a formal petition vis-à-vis the European Parliament (EP), which was admitted in October 2023 and forwarded to the European Commission for information. According to the EC response, the Commission contacted the Belgian authorities to follow up on the concerns raised in relation to the transposition of Employers Sanctions Directive in Belgium.

Key Lessons

As they do mostly work in private homes, migrant domestic workers find it difficult to organize and raise their voices collectively. While the League they have created in Brussels with the support of the trade union confederation ACV-CSC Brussels give them an opportunity come out of their isolation and jointly raise their demands vis-à-vis decision makers, reaching out to more migrant women and ensuring their participation in the League remains a challenge. Members of the League as well as the other members of the Migrant Workers Committee of ACV-CSC Brussels try to overcome this challenge through raising awareness in events over their working and living conditions through film-debates, and locations where migrants come together such as migrant associations, religious gatherings. Highly visible campaign activities of the League promoted through social media as well as on other media outlets also extend the reach out of the League to a larger group of migrant domestic workers.

The strategies and activities of the Domestic Workers League is all designed and carried out by migrant domestic workers themselves, which gives them full ownership of their collective. Women members of the League and those participating in the League’s activities say that they feel have regained agency and found a trade union community that helped enhance their feelings of inclusion and support. But most of all they feel recognized in the fundamental role they are playing in the society and they recognize their own worth. They report that they feel proud of their achievements through the Domestic Workers League in particular the way they combine advocacy and campaigning with art through signing, their films and theatre plays.

Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)

The particular strength of the approach of ACV-CSC with regards to the Domestic Workers League is that migrant domestic workers themselves are the leaders and activists of the change they want to see. This approach empowers them as women, as workers and as migrants; enables them to not only see themselves as victims but as actors playing a fundamental role in the society. Through use of art, and in particular, the theater plays, they act out the conditions they face and how they do and can overcome them.

Additionally, the League and the advocacy and campaign materials it produces are a result of partnership between the migrant domestic workers themselves, their trade union ACV-CSC, feminist activists and art professionals, which not only enhances the effectiveness of outputs but also contributes to the inclusion into the wider society of migrant domestic workers, especially those in an irregular migration situation.

See also links to some of our films and actions below:
- (2020) Nous les domestiques modernes: Ligue:
- (16 June 2021)Tapis rouge: action de sensibilisation à l’occasion de la journée internationale du travail domestique:
- (16 June 2022) Parlement des Travailleuses domestiques:
- (25 November 2022) Action du dépôt de la motion:
- (17 December 2022) Le parlement du courage politique et signature de la Motion par les 7 partis :
- (16 June 2023) 2eme grève, annonce du Tribunal du courage politique:
- (16 June 2023) La tenue du Tribunal du courage politique (version définitive à ne pas encore diffuser):
- (16 June 2023) La tenue du Tribunal du courage politique:
- (18 September 2023) Action rentrée parliamentaire:
- (5 October 2023) Action Conseil des Ministres:
- (22 December 2023) Action devant le Parlement Bruxellois à l’approche du vote de l’Ordonnance économique (La Ligue a un cadeau):


While the League continues with its activities, there is a growing understanding of the human rights violations faced by migrant domestic workers in Belgium thanks to the artistic campaign and advocacy activities of the League. For example, it’s latest play “Tribunal of Political Courage” is include in the programme of well known Kunsten Festival des Arts in Brussels from 18 to 21th May. The League also already ensured a peer support group and safe space for migrant domestic workers in Brussels to discuss and address the difficulties they face when trying to access their rights and the violence/exploitation they encounter as well as develop strategies on how to overcome them.
We’ve been implementing for nearly 3 years the first ever strikes of undocumented domestic workers.
For the 3rd time trade union activists of the Domestic Workers League will be directed by artists (Le Comité : Astrid Akay & Victoria Lewuillon) and will stage through a whole new innovative mise en scene a theatre play in the public space. The theater play will be played by our migrant domestic workers themselves (with the support of musicians and other actors).


Laissez faire c’est cautionner : la Ligue souhaite rencontrer les Ministres

Laissez faire c’est cautionner : la Ligue souhaite rencontrer les Ministres

Date submitted:

26 April 2024

Disclaimer: The content of this practice reflects the views of the implementers and does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, the United Nations Network on Migration, and its members.



*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).