The domestic workers movement has created a home for some of the most isolated and vulnerable working women in our economy, offering a platform to change the laws and culture that undervalue their contributions and limit their human potential. Women of color and immigrant women built this movement. Their leadership puts feminism into practice every day, changing policies and behaviors that will improve working conditions for this predominantly female, low-wage workforce for generations to come.
That change is the essence of feminism. It is a work in progress — an evolving practice of harnessing the power of people to disrupt outdated hierarchies. It’s also about making the invisible visible. It challenges assumptions and deeply embedded inequalities to radically imagine a future where women are recognized and compensated for all their contributions. Feminism, whether so labeled or not, has made domestic work visible, changing the way women’s labor, both inside and outside the home, is understood.
Much of the debate about and within feminism has been over who belongs, whose experience matters and whose issues become central to the movement. Women of color and working-class women have long insisted that their experiences and their issues are core to any version of feminism worthy of the name. They have taken their place as leaders of organizations and movements whose core mission is to continue to challenge the structures, systems and beliefs that keep women subordinated into the 21st century.
Each generation of feminist organizers has grappled with the question, “Whose feminism is this?” For younger women, the starting point now is different than the feminism of the 1970s. Today’s movement’s agenda is multidimensional, and the path to achieving it is not zero-sum. Is there room to improve? Absolutely. But the presumption that feminism is the province of white middle-class women is a throwback to an earlier time — and was not even true then. Most of the leaders of women’s organizations today understand and embrace the important role that women of color, low-income and LGBT women must play in realizing an equity agenda.