Between 2015 and 2019, the Centre for Development Initiatives (CDI*) surveyed nearly 12,000 domestic workers in North East India. Of at least 4 million domestic workers in India and 67 million worldwide, the new dataset is the largest single set of surveys of domestic workers to date.
The dataset makes a remarkable contribution to the research on domestic workers and modern slavery. It feeds into the little-examined tradition of human rights data-gathering by Catholic sisters, and it is testament to the value of frontline research.
As local, embedded and trusted researchers, CDI gathered this data in contexts that would not have been accessible to outsiders, from people at high risk of labour exploitation whose lives are hidden from view beyond the walls of private homes. Until now, this work was unobservable in such detail and scope.
*CDI is part of Arise’s anti-slavery network in India. It is a frontline service provider to at-risk populations and a registered non-profit organisation, directed by Sister Rose Paite. The domestic worker surveys were collected as part of CDI’s “Domestic Workers Union Structure” project, through which it has registered over 18,000 domestic workers in 12 cities of the region into 600 groups. Those registered receive capacity-building support, rights training, and a platform for advocacy and campaigning.