Transforming Ourselves and the Movement
On behalf of Domestic Workers United (DWU), I am deeply honored and humbled for us to be a part of the Move to End Violence (MEV) initiative. DWU is an organization of nannies, housekeepers, and elder caregivers who are organizing for power, respect, fair labor standards, and to help build a movement for change. We are committed to ending all forms of violence against women and girls.
Domestic workers labor in the homes of families who depend on their skills to care for their children and their elders, cook their food, and maintain a clean, healthy, and safe home environment. In some of those homes, the work is truly valued. Yet, in too many homes, domestic workers earn well below minimum wage, are denied rest and meal breaks, and overtime pay, paid vacation and sick leave. Too many of our sisters are enslaved, forced to be at their employers’ disposal around the clock, and subject to abuse and exploitation. Not much has changed since the turn of the last century. Since the abolition of slavery, domestic workers – who are primarily immigrant women of color – have been invisible, exploited, and explicitly excluded from labor protections. This is why we organize.
Every single day, the 200,000 domestic workers that DWU represents in NY go out to provide much needed care to countless families and homes. After a long day’s work, they come to DWU to build their organization so that it can be a refuge and a vehicle to build power. Our members do outreach and support other women to break the silence, reclaim our dignity, and lift up the value of care work.
DWU has long been committed to transformative leadership and organizing because we know all too well that our personal well-being is intimately bound up with our social and collective well-being. We have found a true home in the MEV initiative.
MEV is providing us with a comprehensive set of experiences and tools to deepen and broaden our analysis of gender-based violence and to strengthen our movement-building practices. We know we can’t do it alone and will need each other to draw inspiration, creativity, and innovation. We also know that change can’t happen overnight and will need each other to sustain and build capacity over time and adjust to ever-changing conditions.
Finally, we know that we will need to take lessons from history, learn from our elders, and even reach back to our ancestors for guidance and support, particularly during trying times as we search for answers to complicated questions, and as we seek to ground ourselves when tornadoes of crisis hit.
It’s our hopes and dreams that are really too big to fail. Any effort must be as large and as deep to nurture and protect them. Thank you, NoVo and MEV faculty and fellow cohort members, for taking on the challenge.
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