Brisbane, Australia —
Barbara lives in the Mt. Nancy Town Camp near Alice Springs, now a prescribed area under the Federal Government’s intervention — the Northern Territory Emergency Response. Barbara is an executive member of the local Tangentyere Council. She sees the Emergency Response as racist: “They had to suspend the Racial Discrimination Act in order to roll out the Intervention. It’s not saving our children and it’s not saving our people. I believe there’s a land grab that underlies the Intervention. Now they’ve opened up the territory to exploration especially around uranium mining.” About income quarantine: “Through income management they take 50% of your welfare payments — pension, parenting, New Start, Ab‑Study.” In Mt. Nancy Town Camp only her father, a Vietnam vet, is exempt from income quarantine because of the RSL’s opposition to government interference in Veteran Affairs.
Barbara has been on a speaking tour travelling around the country.
Amsterdam — In a festive atmosphere on March 7, a big gathering of migrant women from various countries in Latin America, Africa and from the Philippines, was also joined by men in solidarity to celebrate International Women’s Day 2009. The theme of the day was “Our Bodies Ourselves – Celebrating and Caring – as Women, as Workers and as Migrants”. Women spontaneously celebrated themselves and all women in describing themselves as stronger sex, fighter, multi-talented, mother, and beautiful.
A creatively mounted power point presentation on our women’s bodies and reproductive organs as well as on the challenges to health and well-being, particularly of undocumented migrants, was given by Drs. Marianne Schoevers and Margriet Stravers of Nijmegen University. A highlight of the programme was the introduction of a Directory of Doctors committed to give their services to undocumented migrants. In 2008 the Nijmegen doctors conducted a research into migrant women’s health and in Amsterdam collaborated with CFMW and the Migrant Domestic Workers self-organisation TRUSTED. This research highlighted the inaccessibility of regular health services for undocumented migrants. Fe Jusay of CFMW presented the Doctors Directory as a welcome initiative to bridge this gap in health services.
The Programme concluded with a review of Her-Story presented by Brid Brennan of the Transnational Institute. She recalled the historic achievement of women throughout the centuries in changing the power relations between men and women and also in ending colonialism and apartheid and in participating in the civil rights movement in the US. Currently, migrant domestic workers have emerged as a significant sector of migrants and workers who are connecting their struggles for their rights with the women who have made Her-Story. They are making their unique contribution to asserting and expanding the rights of women in demanding the recognition of domestic work as proper work and as a category for immigration.
The recently agreed UN CEDAW General recommendation #26 on women migrant workers is an indication of migrant women’s effective advocacy. During this International Women’s Day Celebration migrant domestic workers also re-iterated their commitment to participate in the ‘decent work for domestic workers’ agenda of the International Labour Conference in 2010 and the proposal for an International Labour Organization Convention on domestic workers which aims to strengthen protection of the fundamental rights of all domestic workers, migrant as well as local.
This Forum marking International Women’s Day was co-organised by CFMW (Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers), OTRADELA (Organisacion De Trabajadores Domesticos Emigrantes Latino Americanos), RESPECT NL, TRUSTED Migrants Women’s Committee and the TNI (Transnational Institute).