Building vibrant and tolerant democracies
The AWID Forum brought together women from all corners of the globe, from all walks of life in the name of Transforming Economic Power to Advance Women Rights and Justice. The Forum was endowed with so much knowledge and inspiration especially for a young woman like me. Although in some sessions I found myself struggling with the nature and language of Economics, I realized that I need to do more as an individual in order to understand what is happening in terms of economics.
The 1st Plenary Session promised that we would come away from it thinking about economic power in a whole new way, and in particular how it connects to our everyday lives, work and activism. And it did – striking a real chord with me.
I grasped that for economic empowerment to be realised, no work is better than the other. In our own little way, whatever we do to earn those Kwachas, Pulas, Rands and Dollars, earns us some form of liberation and independence as women.
There are so many things I could write about, but the one thing that really moved me, probably because I could relate so well to it, was the tremendous work burden that domestic workers shoulder, but which goes unrecognized. The narrow perception of what ‘real work’ is really needs to change. Domestic workers work tirelessly like everybody else so that their children can own a pair of shoes to go to school and so that their children do not go to bed on an empty stomach. They do this with the little money they earn from the sweat of their brows – more sweat than many people who go to an office every day.
These are the women who make sure that a Minister of Finance somewhere has his shirt ironed, his shoes polished. These are the women who make sure that the Governor of a certain central bank somewhere has a warm breakfast before he goes and make decisions that will have an impact on their lives. Now tell me, how are these women not contributing to the economies and smooth running of their respective countries?
They may not understand what Gross Domestic Product (GDP) means, they may have never heard of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) but we need to recognize that these women have done so much, and still continue to do so much to make the world’s greatest economies thrive.
I looked at all of us who graced the AWID forum and some of us are the women we are today because our grandmothers and mothers had to labour so hard as domestic workers and utilise every little penny so wisely so that households of five, six and even ten children had bread on the table. I need to salute all these women because I know that they may not understand economics in its most sophisticated sense, but they certainly understand it in their own way without even having gone to school to study it. How else would they have quite a powerful and incomparable way of keeping their own households together on such meagre salaries?
Domestic work like any work is equally important and we need laws that will protect the rights of these women, because despite the amazing work they do, they are often seen as second class citizens just because they work in someone’s home while that someone goes to work.ShareThis