2016 National Domestic Workers Alliance Congress

On September 16th, 2016, 13 Damayan leaders and staff joined over 500 members of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) for the 2016 National Congress and the We Won’t Wait Summit in Maryland.Damayan members took part in workshops, discussions, and presentations and shared, listened, strategized and organized with many organizations that represent nannies, housecleaners, and care workers across the United States. Together, the NDWA Congress participants worked to devise strategies for aligning social movements and building a more democratic economy, calling for working women’s leadership in the labor movement.

This year’s NDWA Congress followed the passing of the Domestic Worker Bills of Rights  in 7 states around the country, including New York. Representatives of eligible affiliate organizations elected a new Board of Directors, of which Damayan has been on up until it’s decision not to seek reelection this year, to enable Damayan to provide more staff time and energy for its new programs this year.

In addition to skill building workshops like Building Unity, Resilience and Power in our Organizations and Movements, to political analysis workshops that provide an ideological framework for domestic workers to analyze the root causes of their vulnerable work  conditions, the Congress provided a platform to share with, strengthen, and build our relationships with our movement partners and fellow organizers. Damayan’s Riya Ortiz taught a powerful workshop called Labor Trafficking and the Domestic Worker Movement which was facilitated by Adhikaar and other Beyond Survival Campaign anchors. In the workshop, Riya shared with organizers from all over the U.S., Damayan’s methods and experiences in identifying trafficked domestic workers, connecting them to life-saving resources, and empowering them to become social justice leaders.

After two days of the Congress, Damayan  and other Congress members joined with over 500 additional community leaders and organizers at the 2016 We Won’t Wait National Summit. We Won’t Wait consists of Make It Work, the NDWA, MomsRising.Org, the Black Women’s Roundtable and the Ms. Foundation for Women. The Summit seeks to amplify the power of women of color, and low income women, to develop a policy agenda to improve their economic security and to hold candidates and elected officials accountable.

At the summit, Damayan members again attended discussions, panels, and workshops that centered around how the  intersection of gender, race, and economic security impact many of the issues like immigration reform, racial justice, gender violence, workers’ rights, and equal pay. Using this lens, speakers  emphasized voter participation, holding elected officials accountable  and the need for women to educate themselves about voting laws, and procedures in order to violations of voting law and voter intimidation.

After four days of intense listening, sharing, learning, teaching, and organizing, Damayan members left Maryland armed with tools to continue and strengthen our  mission  to educate, organize and mobilize low wage Filipino workers to fight for their labor, health, gender and im/migration rights; to contribute to the building of the domestic workers movement for fair labor standards, dignity and justice; and to build workers’ power and solidarity towards justice and liberation.