By Ivanna Neri, FII Austin Site Director
In 2012, a group of 6 domestic workers started gathering to get advice from each other on workers rights, fair salaries and challenges in the domestic industry. Shortly after, they named their group MISMA (Mujeres Inspiradas en Sueños, Metas y Acciones, or Women Inspired in Dreams, Goals and Actions), became members of the National Alliance of Domestic Workers and started getting materials on how to advocate for their rights. Equipped with these new materials, the women decided to use their learnings along with personal lived experiences to create a curriculum focused on the protection of domestic workers from human trafficking, abuse and violation of rights. In their seven years of operations, MISMA has equipped and mobilized more than 300 domestic workers from Central Texas on how to overcome challenges while keeping dignity in their work space. One of the founders said, “being a domestic worker does not make you less or more. We are just like a doctor who deserves respect and dignity.”
The group has traveled to NY, DC, San Francisco, among other cities and have spoken to congressmen, senators and other politicians along with other national domestic workers about issues that impact their lives. “We are fighting a system that does not trust us, has taken away our agency and wants to take advantage of us-that’s why are are well organized and provide help to each other. We provide and create tools that come directly from our expertise,” a MISMA founder said. The group is in the process of establishing themselves as a 501c3 and since joining FII, they have been able to strengthen their work with MISMA as well as paying fees associated with their training and education. They recently organized a series of trainings for other domestic workers. Half of the women who attended came because they found out about this training through UpTogether site. “I posted the info about our workers rights training on UpTogether and many women felt identified that they end up coming” said, Rosario, MISMA Leader. MISMA is just one of many examples of entrepreneurship that FII family partners are embarking on every day.