China is thought to have around 37 million female housekeepers working in its big cities, and they are largely an invisible group.
They move from the countryside to the city with different missions, from escaping domestic violence and making a living on their own to earning money for sick family members and paying for children’s schooling.
At the same time, they face a lot of challenges, including little control over workplace conditions, long hours, high-stress levels, and low social status. These challenges often result in housekeepers being unable to feel a sense of achievement and purpose in their profession and personal lives.
Beijing Hongyan Center is an organization committed to providing empowerment support and employment services to housekeepers and reshaping the value of the profession.
In 2018, Hongyan Center created the concept of green housekeeping, an initiative to promote sustainability and environmental protection in housekeeping practices. With years of experience working with housekeepers, Hongyan tapped into the potential of housekeepers and how they can implement environmentally friendly practices in their work.
Professor Zhang Xiaode of the National Academy of Governance acknowledges the great potential of housekeeping to promote sustainable lifestyles. He believes that everyone can participate in environmental protection, and positive changes have to start small. Green housekeeping is one starting point.
In November 2022, promotion videos and other products about utilizing green housekeeping to help sustainable development in urban communities were exhibited at the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) as part of the Climate Action and Solutions of Women in Asia, showcasing the power of Chinese women’s participation in environmental governance.
In the same year, green housekeeping entered the realm of government work and was listed on the official website of the National Development and Reform Commission as a typical case of the quality and capacity of China’s housekeeping industry, showcasing grassroots practices to achieve environmental protection and rural revitalization.