Social entrepreneur Mendy Lerato Lusaba believes that encouraging domestic workers to read books will help professionalise their job and have respectable standing in society.
To prove her point, Lusaba has published a simple but comprehensive “Domestic Workers Practical Handbook” which she hopes to officially launch and translate into more African languages soon.
Lusaba is the founder of the Domestic Workers Association of Zimbabwe (DWAZ), a membership-based growing network of maids working in and out of the country and has vast experience in the labour sector.
The association aims :to professionalise the important but marginalised domestic work industry”.
In her work with maids, she has seen the potential, prejudices and limitations of this type of job which she said originated from the days of slavery and grew with colonialism and racism.
During those unjust times, many uneducated black people who were mostly employed as female maids (and male garden tenders) were usually treated unfairly by their employers, but this has changed over the years because the introduction of the international labour law and creation of other labour organisations in different countries now provides protection for this sector.
At least, domestic workers are being respected worldwide just as any other labourer.
“Domestic work involves a number of different roles and in some countries, the job is respected and pays very well. The handbook will help in removing the prejudices that tie the job down to low standards. I hope to translate it into different languages,” she said.
Lusaba said she wrote the handbook after realising there was little literature on domestic work or any other college offering courses in the field and yet other professions have abundant manuals. Her association, which emanated from her employment agency some years ago, conducts training workshops for its members and round-table meetings between the workers and their employers. It was at some such gatherings that Lusaba discovered the need to motivate domestic workers to read material that treats their job as a profession. Yet not only the employees must read the handbook, but also the employers, said Lusaba.