Grantee Spotlight: Building Power for the Women Who Feed Us All
Farmworkers are perhaps the single most essential workers in our communities. Without food, nothing else matters. And yet, farmworkers often toil under backbreaking conditions and for poverty wages. Roughly 50% of farmworkers are undocumented, leaving them at risk of deportation and exploitation by employers. Female farmworkers are regularly sexually harassed and assaulted. Farmworkers pay a tremendous physical price for the overuse of pesticides and are dying because of climate change.
Because of the critical role they play in all of our lives and the severe risks they face in playing that role, female farmworkers need a major voice in our political processes. On issues from immigration to environmental justice to women’s rights to labor rights, they have tremendous personal stakes as well as unique insights on issues that affect us all. With organized power, they could make agriculture safer, healthier, fairer, and more sustainable, which would have benefits for everyone.
Because so many farmworkers are undocumented and Latinx, they are systematically denied a voice in political processes, with the 28% of farmworkers who are women facing even steeper barriers to political participation. Though “small farmers” are a commonly invoked image in American politics, the reality is that American agriculture, and by extension agricultural policy, is driven by agribusiness – meaning owners and investors, not farmworkers.
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas is the first national women farmworkers’ organization in the U.S. created by current and former campesinas, along with women who hail from farmworker families. Their priority areas for work include:
- Stopping violence against women and girls
- Pushing for comprehensive immigration reform
- Combating pesticides
WDN is proud to support them as they build power while meeting the direct needs of these women. Our Opportunity & Equality For All Impact Collective supports mobilizing, organizing, and policy advocacy, critical strategies that can be particularly challenging to get funded.
In 2021, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas hosted a Convivencia bringing more than 100 farmworkers together with partners to create a shared agenda on critical issues, build the skills needed to speak out, and strengthen relationships they can call on for years to come. The organization’s campaigns have shared these women’s stories with the broader public to build an understanding of the critical role they play in our lives, and demand action to end violence against women farmworkers. Alianza Nacional de Campesinas also worked with 24 partner organizations over the past year on educating and encouraging communities in 20 states to get vaccinated.
As they build power, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas is leveraging their position to fight for critical legislation for women farmworkers in the halls of Congress, like the
- Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021
- Protecting Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence Act of 2021
- U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021
- Citizenship for Essential Workers Act of 2021
- Asuncion Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act of 2021
- Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety of 2019
- Bills Banning Particularly Dangerous Pesticides
WDN’s supports groups like Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, and all of the organizations within our Opportunity & Equality For All Impact Collective funding portfolio, using specific strategies designed to maximize their impact, minimize the burden of working with us, and ensure that groups can invest in innovative work that others may consider untested. We listen to groups’ leaders about when funding is needed and move it quickly, creating as few restrictions as possible to reflect our trust in their judgment. We prioritize powerbuilding work led by Black women, Indigenous women, and women of color, positioning them to seize their rightful role in our democracy.
Together, we are building women’s power to create a fairer, more equitable, and more just world.