Migrant worker women ARE the Future of (Guest)Work

We’re still mourning the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a powerful ally who paved the way for gender justice and immigrants’ rights. And as I think of her incredible legacy, I can’t help but feel motivated to fight for a future that reflects her life-long battle.

With that in mind, our anniversary theme seems more fitting than ever. All throughout September, we’re honoring migrant worker women to celebrate our 15th anniversary. I spent last week with guestworker women and allies at our second “Future Of (Guest)Work: Women Building Gender Equity in Labor Migration” event. Together, we turned our joint vision into action.

The “Future of (Guest)Work” embodies CDM’s approach to advocacy — it’s worker-centered and action-oriented. Check out some of our favorite moments!

Day 1: On September 12, we focused on organizing and convening a group of guestworker women from across industries, geographies and visa categories. I’m in awe of workers’ commitment. Because of the public health crisis, our team adjusted our plans, transitioning our in-person gathering in DC to Zoom. Guestworker women joined from remote areas in Mexico and late at night in Greece. They turned this virtual meeting  into a dynamic space, demonstrating that no barrier is insurmountable when it comes to building power and solidarity.

Regardless of whether they were recruited in the Philippines, the Dominican Republic or Cameroon, guestworker women identified common patterns of abuse: being channeled into lower paying jobs, facing retaliation and paying exorbitant fees in exchange for jobs in the U.S. Women bonded over having similar experiences and resolved to advocate for policies that would prevent and address recruitment abuses.

Day 2: On Sunday, allies across different movements joined in to strategize on how to advance legislation that would strengthen migrant justice during recruitment. The second “Future of Guestwork” didn’t technically start September 12 — we’ve been workshopping a bill with migrant worker women throughout the last few months. Women’s insights and feedback have shaped this proposed legislation. By the end of our session on Sunday, allies and guestworker women had come up with concrete actions to push for this bill, including meetings with legislators, community organizing and media.

Day 3: We closed the event on a high note — or more like 14! Monday’s Day of Action featured 14 meetings with key Congressional offices! Guestworker women led these virtual meetings, sharing their stories and positioning recruitment as a priority issue with offices including Rep. Jayapal, Sen. Harris, Rep. Pocan, Sen. Blumenthal and Sen. Cardin’s. Migrant worker women and allies explained how our draft bill would prevent exploitation and trafficking: prohibiting recruitment fees, discrimination and retaliation. We were met with interest and excitement from staffers who were moved by the women’s stories and vision — we are ready to move this forward!

This is only the beginning. Our powerful group is preparing for the road ahead: turning this bill into law.

Special thanks to the guestworker women and allies who joined us, and to our co-sponsors for helping make our second Future of (Guest)Work possible: Oxfam America, AFL-CIO, Migration that Works, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, SEIU 775 and National Women’s Law Center.

The energy, passion, and commitment we’ve seen in only two years of convening demonstrate that we have collective power to bring about change — migrant worker women won’t back down. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate. Would you become an Ally for Migrant Justice? To commemorate our 15th anniversary, you can commit to making monthly donations in multiples of 15!

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EvyPena | Refugee Watch (2023-01-27T14:56:42+00:00) » Migrant worker women ARE the Future of (Guest)Work. Retrieved from https://www.refugee.watch/2020/09/22/migrant-worker-women-are-the-future-of-guestwork/.
" » Migrant worker women ARE the Future of (Guest)Work." EvyPena | Refugee Watch - Tuesday September 22, 2020, https://www.refugee.watch/2020/09/22/migrant-worker-women-are-the-future-of-guestwork/
EvyPena | Refugee Watch Tuesday September 22, 2020 » Migrant worker women ARE the Future of (Guest)Work., viewed 2023-01-27T14:56:42+00:00,<https://www.refugee.watch/2020/09/22/migrant-worker-women-are-the-future-of-guestwork/>
EvyPena | Refugee Watch - » Migrant worker women ARE the Future of (Guest)Work. [Internet]. [Accessed 2023-01-27T14:56:42+00:00]. Available from: https://www.refugee.watch/2020/09/22/migrant-worker-women-are-the-future-of-guestwork/
" » Migrant worker women ARE the Future of (Guest)Work." EvyPena | Refugee Watch - Accessed 2023-01-27T14:56:42+00:00. https://www.refugee.watch/2020/09/22/migrant-worker-women-are-the-future-of-guestwork/
" » Migrant worker women ARE the Future of (Guest)Work." EvyPena | Refugee Watch [Online]. Available: https://www.refugee.watch/2020/09/22/migrant-worker-women-are-the-future-of-guestwork/. [Accessed: 2023-01-27T14:56:42+00:00]
» Migrant worker women ARE the Future of (Guest)Work | EvyPena | Refugee Watch | https://www.refugee.watch/2020/09/22/migrant-worker-women-are-the-future-of-guestwork/ | 2023-01-27T14:56:42+00:00