The following letter was delivered to Congress on International Workers’ Day 2019 by The Future of (Guest)Work Migrant Women Delegation.
May 1, 2019
We’re farmworkers, crab pickers and cruise ship workers. We’re chocolate packers, engineers, veterinarians, nurses, domestic workers and teachers from all around the world. We are united by our motivation, yearn for knowledge, and commitment to creating change in our communities. Today, on International Workers’ Day, we stand with guestworker women across the globe to ensure that the policies that affect us reflect our experiences.
In several different ways, we have all endured inequity and hardships in our journeys to the United States and in our workplace. Our hopes to provide a better life for our children and families have been met with deceit, discrimination and lack of access to opportunity. Many of us have suffered sexual harassment, one that doesn’t let us live or work. Basic medical aid is nonexistent, with something as little as an aspirin being inaccessible to us. At our employment-provided housing, we have access to only one bathroom for all workers and must take cold showers. We live and work in physical and mental isolation. We often don’t speak the language, nor know anyone beyond our employer. Many of our employers take our passports and visas upon arrival. It is difficult to access justice or remedies.
As guestworker women, we are together in this movement. We are telling our story because we do not want others to face what we did. It is our responsibility to follow this path, to unite, organize, and not let it get lost. We represent our families, our community and future generations. As women, there is nothing braver than thinking aloud. We aren’t the ‘weaker sex’. We are strong and capable. We are courageous and triumphant.
We want equal rights and opportunities, as we have equal responsibilities. We want to speak up, be heard. We want transparency and to change conditions. We seek reforms in law. We want our employers and the people and the government of this country to value us.
We envision an alternative future for ourselves and our communities — one where migrant women feel empowered to raise our voices and are not alone. This future holds concrete policy shifts in the way companies and employers work. Generations to come have strong protections, are free from abuse. Employers are held accountable. Women are not isolated; we have access to resources for our mental and physical health. We can exercise our rights. In this joint vision, we are as powerful as ever.
This vision requires dissambleming guestworker programs in order to build gender equity in labor migration. Join us — the hundreds of thousands of guestworker women — in building that future now.
The Future of (Guest)Work Migrant Women Delegation 2019