The Creative Resistance Of Domestic Workers

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By Rose Mahi for Open Democracy. Many conditions play into the exploitation of migrant domestic workers (MDWs) in Lebanon. Most of the time, MDWs are women, and some of us are illiterate. And at times, this illiteracy furthers existing exploitation, which is already embedded in sexism, classism, and racism. These factors are present in our home countries, and migration renders us even more vulnerable to them. Our employers often believe that people migrate because they had nothing to do, were not qualified, or lacked opportunity in their home countries, and that we therefore owe them for saving us.

Domestic Workers Movement Is Growing

A domestic workers in Johannesburg, South Africa. Solidarity Center/Jemal Countess/Flickr. Creative Commons.

By Myrtle Witbooi for Open Democracy – So the question is, how did I come from my humble beginnings to where I am now? My life in this field started in 1966, when I became a domestic worker. I was working for a family, in 1967, and I remember I was pregnant and had a baby that same year. I also remember that, during the apartheid times, there was an article in the newspaper about how some employers didn’t allow the friends of domestic workers to visit the property. The question that a came to my mind was what are we? And why are there no rights for us? So I questioned the situation. I wrote a letter and I sent it to the newspaper without thinking. I just wrote my frustration: why are we different? Why are there no laws to protect us? Why are we not seen as people? And then, three days later, a reporter from the newspaper came to the door and was looking for the maid, the servant. This reporter decided that I educated and asked me why I kept my ideas to myself, instead of speaking out. I became a spokesperson for both sides, and that is where I discovered a certain talent I have: I have the ability to speak. So we called a meeting in 1968, here in Salt River (Capetown, South Africa), in a big hall for garment workers.

Victory For Domestic Workers In Illinois

Workers’ strike in Milwaukee in January of 2014. (Photo: Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association/flickr/cc)

By Terrance Heath for Campaign for America’s Future – The law, which is the result of a five-year campaign by the Illinois Domestic Workers’ Coalition, guarantees nannies, housecleaners, homecare workers and other domestic workers a minimum wage, protection from discrimination and sexual harassment, and one day of rest for every seven days for workers employed by one employer for at least 20 hours a week. New York became the first state to pass such a bill in 2010.

Women-Led Movements Redefine Power, From California To Nepal

One Billion Rising women fists

By Rucha Chitnis for YES! Magazine. In the face of growing corporate power, land grabs, economic injustice, and climate change, women’s movements offer a paradigm shift. They have redefined leadership and development models, connected the dots between issues and oppression, prioritized collective power and movement-building, and critically examined how issues of gender, race, caste, class, sexuality, and ability disproportionately exclude and marginalize. Women of color have unleashed powerful media campaigns and actions by connecting identity and its relationship with structural racism and institutional power. Whether it is indigenous women in the Amazon fighting corporate polluters and climate change or undocumented Latina domestic workers advocating for worker rights and dignity in California, women’s groups and networks are making links between unbridled capitalism, violence, and the erosion of human rights and destruction of the Earth.