2020 SFF AnnualReport - Page 18

Supporting the Leadership and Agency of
Asian Immigrant Women
anguage is not just a means of communication, it is also a means of survival and
success. Being able to understand lifesaving
health information — including information
about job protections and renters’ rights —
impacts thousands of people in the Bay Area.
Asian immigrant women who work low-wage
jobs, in particular, are more likely to have
employers who do not follow labor laws and
are not held responsible. Asian Immigrant
Women Advocates (AIWA) provides an organizing hub by and for Asian women to voice
their demands for justice in the workplace.
Thirty-five years ago, Young Shin and other
Asian American women activists saw that
there was no organization reaching out to
Asian immigrant women who were working
in hotels and as seamstresses and garment
workers to fight against nonpayment of
wages. The rights that AIWA fought for at its
founding are still relevant to what they are
fighting for today: voice and dignity of Asian
immigrant women in their work — for fair pay
and schedules, for protection from injuries,
and to demand that employers follow labor
“Our focus is on developing women’s leadership and voice to demand rights,” Young said.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, AIWA
has supported home care workers to demand
personal protective equipment and hazard
pay and continues to serve as a resource for
AIWA members and the broader Asian community for translation of all the information,
2020 Annual Report
benefits, and restrictions about COVID-19
coming from Bay Area cities and counties
and the state government.
“Exploitation happens when people that are
most affected are not given resources and
don’t have a network,” Young said. “A lot of
immigrant parents say, ‘I can sacrifice myself
for the sake of the kids.’ They don’t want to
rock the boat. That’s how the exploitation
continues. If it is just you, they can shout you
down; if you have workers together you have
more power.”
Today, the majority of AIWA’s members provide in-home care or work in the restaurant
service industry, salons, and grocery stores.
A grant from the San Francisco Foundation’s
COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund
helped AIWA provide critical translation
services to make sure women with limited English fluency have information on unemployment insurance, sick leave, rent protections,
and the latest information to protect their
health during the pandemic. For beauty salon
and grocery workers — often living paycheck
to paycheck — understandable information
about rent relief and eviction moratoriums
is critical to helping them keep their place to
live during the pandemic and after.
Learn more about Asian Immigrant Women
Advocates and their work to support the
leadership and power of Asian immigrant
women in the Bay Area.

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