Today in the United States there are an estimated 20 million immigrants and approximately 5 million that are undocumented. Forty-two percent earn less than $20,000 per year, with no form of occupational benefits or protections. These numbers include domestic migrant workers who are the most vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and isolation; women and young girls.
Despite the passing of international laws recognizing migrant domestic workers as legitimate members of the labor force, they are still being mistreated, abused, discriminated against and overworked while their rights are left unrealized. Anyone in the community who is interested can learn and discuss more of these issues in a relaxed environment at the next ODU Science Pub.
Jennifer Fish, professor and chair of the Department of Women’s Studies, will share her research as well as insights about the topic at 6 p.m. on Apr. 23 at Bearded Bird Brewing, 727 Granby Street, in Norfolk.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that of at least 67 million domestic migrant workers around the world, approximately 90 percent are women and girls who must leave their homes to provide for their families while these numbers steadily rise. In her Science Pubs talk, Fish will discuss how domestic migrant workers have become a global necessity because of the services they provide, ranging from household tasks to caregiving on an international scale. “By 2030, 20 percent of the U.S. population will be over the age of 65,” says Fish. “As our society ages, the need for elder care is escalating substantially, leaving a measurable need for migrant care workers.” Her research defines “three central fronts” of discrimination migrant women currently face, and looks at organized approaches to assuring human rights protections.
She will share research from her latest book “Domestic Workers of the World Unite!: A Global Movement for Dignity and Human Rights,” which features visually and textually documented accounts of the challenges these domestic workers and leaders of this global movement faced that ultimately culminated in the creation of ILO Convention 189.
This first global policy recognized and defined domestic migrant workers as significant contributors to the global economy. As the first UN effort to confront the unjust treatment of migrant domestic workers, it defines standards that ensure that these workers are treated fairly as part of a platform of basic human rights.
According to Fish, since its passing eight years ago, 26 countries have ratified this UN Convention, and more than 52 national organizations joined the first global union of domestic workers in their quest for societal change.
With this policy victory, real change depends upon implementation and invested action among wider communities. “Even with these new protections in place, the overall condition of domestic workers is saturated with injustices from the household employment context to the larger international power structures that relegate migrant women to the least protected forms of employment,” says Fish.
The question comes down to what can you do to help? For more information about how to support the cause in the United States visit the National Domestic Workers Alliance at www.domesticworkers.org.
Article Written By Shawn Nowek
Science Pubs are an opportunity for the community to engage with ODU researchers in an informal setting. The free events feature lively and engaging discussion; a curious mind is all that’s needed. Networking begins at 6 p.m. followed by trivia and talks at 6:30. Arrive early and receive a free beverage. RSVPs are encouraged and can be made here. The locations and topics change with each Science Pub.