this post has been brought to my attention through our link with NESRI an organization dedicated to human rights and human rights awareness. Please read and comment on the incredible achievement of Women in the food industry, unsung heroes of International Women’s Day!
All the best. Joyce
On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the generations of courageous women who stood up for equality and gender justice. Because of their tenacity, we have secured women’s right to vote, educational opportunities, better pay and much more. The rich legacy of the women’s movement continues to be built today by the exemplary leadership of many of our sisters who have been left out of these gains, especially women who find themselves in the low-wage workforce.
Today we spotlight the extraordinary women leaders at our partner organization, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. As Nely Rodriguez, CIW leader said on International Women’s Day in 2012:
“This is a history not written in any book. And I don’t think there would be enough paper to do justice to the daily life of a strong woman fighting to provide for her family.”
Women farmworkers have faced the abuses endured by all farmworkers, along with upwards of 80% of women farmworkers suffering chronic sexual harassment or violence in the fields. As NESRI was documenting the impact of CIW’s Fair Food Program on combating these abuses, CIW leader Lupe Gonzalez explained that in the past every women farmworker faced the same question:
“Do I defend my dignity or do I put food on the table for my children?”
Often it wasn’t much of a choice, given women had nowhere to turn. With women’s voices playing a key role, however, CIW has fundamentally transformed the working conditions for farmworkers throughout the tomato fields of Florida. The Fair Food Program – the result of many years of organizing through CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food – has been recognized as one of the most, if not only, effective programs to prevent sexual harassment and abuse in the fields, as well as hold abusers accountable.
This unprecedented success is due to the program’s worker-centered design and leadership. And women’s leadership has not only been indispensible for ending the sexual harassment and abuse, but also for raising the wages and ending the abuses for all workers in the tomato fields. This indeed is a history not yet written in any book, but one we must celebrate and retell every opportunity we have.
It is also a history we have not finished writing. Together NESRI, CIW, the Fair Food Standards Council, the Alliance for Fair Food, and many more allies are all working to spread this successful model. As one farmworker who successfully fought the abuse against her by coming to the Fair Food Program told NESRI:
“It’s beautiful to see people working together for justice and responding to abuse.”
We honor these women on the frontline of justice today and express our deepest appreciation for their courage and leadership.
The NESRI Team
In partnership with communities, NESRI works to build a broad movement for economic & social rights, including health, housing, education and work with dignity. Based on the principle that fundamental human needs create human rights obligations on the part of government and the private sector, NESRI advocates for public policies that guarantee the universal and equitable fulfillment of these rights in the United States.
NESRI is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We rely on the support of foundations and individuals like you! Your tax-deductible donation helps us promote human rights in the United States.