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Story Publication logo May 4, 2021

We Are Essential Workers (Spanish)

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Someone, with their back to the camera, raises their fist during a protest.
English

In Argentina, household workers—95% of whom are women—have been among the hardest hit by the...

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Someone, with their back to the camera, raises their fist during a protest.
Image by Anita Pouchard Serra. Argentina.

They are cold stats — additions and subtractions on a calculator that are felt on the bodies, and in the lives, of 1.4-million women who work in the domestic sector in Argentina.

Some 20,000 registered household workers lost their jobs in 2020, and another 70,000 who were working in unregistered conditions. Their earnings were meager to begin with. A base registered salary is between $210 and $260 US a month. That's about one third of what a family needs to stay above the poverty line in Argentina.

If the pandemic hit hard, its lash was strongest against those precariously employed. For these workers, the situation looks like it will only get worse in a second wave.

"At the end of June (2020) they called me to work where I am now: twice a week informally," said Angela Lopez, a member of the Agrupación de Trabajadoras de Casas Particulares en Lucha, a new organization representing household workers in Argentina. "And I have no choice but to accept those conditions, because if I did not work I would be sleeping on the street. I am currently going to a soup kitchen. If it weren't for that I would starve, but it's not enough."

But little by little these women are raising their voices to show how the foundation of the economic structure in which they live needs their labor — and collapses without it.

Read the full story in Spanish.

A person wearing a cloth medical face mask. There is a bus in the background.
Image by Anita Pouchard Serra. Argentina.
People walk down a street during a protest. They are holding signs.
Image by Anita Pouchard Serra. Argentina.

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