Women Migrant Workers in the US

Think of a migrant worker? What came to mind? Was it a young man who travels abroad to find jobs in agriculture, construction, restaurants, or some other field of interest? I bet you (and I’m not a betting gal) that you didn’t think of a woman. I could definitely be wrong (this happens quite often) but women are increasingly becoming more and more a part of the migrant farmworker population.

In a dated, 1984 article (here), Culturalsurvival.org describes the situations many women migrant farmworkers faced and in some instances may still be facing today. An estimated 900,000 women in the workforce, plant, pick and pack food we eat. Despite their critical contributions, women farmworkers often live in the shadows of society and are excluded from some of the most basic labor protections, and are a risk of wage theft, rampant sexual harassment, and severe occupational injuries from heavy machinery, sharp implements, and other unsafe conditions as indicated by Justice for Migrant Women.

It is important for us to recognize the many issues facing women migrant farmworkers. We should not only be aware but celebrate their contributions. Therefore, in addition to celebrating Women’s Month, we should celebrate National Farmworker Awareness Week (March 25-31). This week of celebration calls for actions of communities to bring attention to the multiple challenges farmworkers face, as well as shed light on and honor the important contributions women farmworkers make to our daily lives.

As we celebrate, consider these Three (3) Ways to Support Farmworkers. Another way to get involved is to contribute to the Association of Farmworkers Opportunity Program’s (AFOP) Health and Safety Program’s national effort to bring awareness to the work and lives of farmworkers in the United States. Each year, they sponsor a long-sleeved shirt drive throughout the United States. Scroll to the bottom of this page and click on your state to see if there is a drop-off location near you. This month, let’s celebrate Women and Women Farmers!

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