The League of Women Voters of Oak Park-River Forest will celebrate Women’s Equality Day on Tuesday, Aug. 27, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Veterans Room of the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St.
What is Women’s Equality Day? It is the League’s opportunity to celebrate the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote in 1920. Since 1924 when the local League chapter was established, our chapter has striven to encourage the informed and active participation of citizens in government and provide programs to increase the understanding of major public policy issues. This year we address the invisible and largely unregulated world of domestic work.
League members and the general public are invited to join us in this presentation by Heather Radke of Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, exhibition coordinator/curator of “Unfinished Business: 21st Century Home Economics” and Myrla Baldonado, domestic worker organizer from Latino Union Chicago. Their presentation, “When Equal Isn’t: Addressing the Plight and the Empowerment of Domestic Workers,” will offer their insights concerning domestic employment in 21st-century America.
Domestic workers are a growing population. They are nannies, elder care workers and house cleaners. Ninety-five percent are women, most are women of color, and many are immigrants. These invisible workers often endure long hours, low pay, and health and safety issues that include violence and sexual assault. Currently they are organizing for inclusion of protections guaranteed under the Fair Labor Standards Act. These are basic protections such as minimum wage, overtime, sickness and vacation pay.
We ask you to reflect on the seniors in our community who have highly intensive caregiving needs due to dementia, mobility or continence issues. Also reflect on the 24-care needed by infants and children with special needs or demands that simply cannot be achieved by a dual-career household. Are they cared for by domestic workers who make it possible for you to build a career, add to the GDP, and maintain emotional health? Does the domestic worker stay loyal in the largely unprotected position, earning less than minimum wage with no paid days off, no health insurance, and occasionally abusive situations? Is your home a place of equity and social change?
What can be done to enact and enforce policies that address the inequities specific to domestic workers? Mark your calendar for Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. to find out what the latest updates are on the Illinois Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights Act (SB 1708) and to find ways to decrease the vulnerability of the domestic workforce in our community. Join the League at www.lwvoprf.org to be part of our effort to spread equality on Women’s Equality Day.
Peggy Kell is president of the League of Women Voters of Oak Park-River Forest.