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Four years ago, Newsweek named Ai-Jen to it's 150 Fearless Women list. TIME called her one of 100 Most Influential People in the World.
What does she do? Something many people said couldn't be done. In 2000, she started organizing domestic workers, mostly women, who work in homes carrying for the young and the elderly, cooking and cleaning.
Ai-Jen brought together workers spread out over many private homes, co-founding
Domestic Workers United in New York City.
Her work led to the New York State Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, passed in 2010, it guaranteed domestic workers lawful rights to vacation and overtime pay.
Under Ai-Jen's leadership the union grew into the National Domestic Workers Alliance and expanded operations across the country.
Like Fannie Sellins, Ai-Jen is motivated by compassion...
"I often compare great campaigns to great love affairs because they’re an incredible container for transformation."
Marking #DayWithoutAWoman, International Women's Day, March 8, thousands of domestic workers from across the nation skipped work, dressed in red and rallied in the streets.
In 1881, black washerwomen went on strike in Atlanta and nearly shut down the entire city. Despite losing wages, being arrested and fined for “disorderly conduct” the women stayed off the job for weeks. Standing their ground they won better pay, more autonomy in their work and inspired other low wage workers to strike.
Ai-Jen says many immigrant members of the Domestic Workers Alliance have already risked their lives fleeing poverty, violence and war to bring their children to the U.S., and in the current political climate, simply walking their children to school or going to the grocery store they risk getting caught and deported.
Ai-Jen's suggests. "Let's keep asking the question: 'How can I be more courageous in what I commit to, to match what's at stake?'"
"How can I be more courageous
in what I commit to,
what's at stake?"