Nearly 10,000 migrant women are working in Canada today, taking care of Canadian families. Migrant women raise children and tend to the sick and elderly.
Migrant women like Winnie Waithira. Winnie has worked in Ontario since September 2014. She worked 60 hour weeks without a break, and sometimes without pay. She still managed to complete all the requirements to apply for permanent residency and reunite with her family. Despite all this, she has been denied permanent residency.
Winnie hasn’t stayed silent. Along with racialized women migrant workers across Canada, she’s part of Landed Status Now – a migrant care worker campaign for immigration and labour rights. They have already won victories, and ensured rights and status for workers facing deportation. But the work isn’t done.
Right now, many Care Workers are fighting unfair language and educational barriers that make it impossible for them to get Permanent Residency. They are calling on the Immigration Minister to change the rules. Add your voice to theirs!
Migrant care workers in Canada were the first group of migrant workers to get a path to permanent resident status in 1981 as a direct result of Caribbean domestic women’s organizing. Today, again, it is migrant care workers at the forefront of the migrant justice struggle.
Women migrant workers are not just in care work, but also work in farms, factories, retail fisheries, and sex work; they are students, refugees and sometimes undocumented. They all face economic gender-based exploitation. Census data shows that migrant women workers earn just 31 cents for every dollar that a male permanent resident or citizen earns. The situation is not that much better for citizens: racialized women who are citizens in Canada earn 59 cents for every dollar earned by non-racialized men.
Gender inequality is the hidden engine of the economy. For workers to work, they must be fed and clothed; children must be raised; homes cleaned and elders cared for. This mostly unwaged work falls to women. It is this unwaged work that subsidizes the wealthy. It is how the rich get richer – today 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than 4.6 billion people!
The richest few in Canada get richer from on-going colonialism. Central to this plunder is the oil and gas industry that brings with them “man-camps” which increase violence against Indigenous women. This is one of the reasons the Wet’suwet’en in British Columbia are opposing the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline. Thousands of Indigenous women and girls have been murdered or disappeared in Canada – this is a genocide. This is why today on International Women’s Day, we are in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en and call for an end to violence against Indigenous women.
Those at the top push divisions. Today, on International Working Women’s Day we must unite with working women, sex workers, trans women, homeless women, racialized women, and women in the Global South.
Just as care workers lead the migrant justice movement, women also lead environmental struggles, worker rights fights, movements against war and displacement, and more. Today, and every day, we unite under women’s leadership, we fight, we win.
March 8, 2020