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Women of color working low-wage jobs must often navigate unregulated work conditions, as much of their work is domestic labor—caregiving, house cleaning, child care—an industry that, historically, is not only low-paid but also exploitative. The National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), a 10,000 membership-based organization for nannies, housecleaners, and caregivers, describes, in its 2012 Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work [PDF] report, the substandard conditions of domestic work, including lack of employment benefits, meager wages, exposure to toxic chemicals, and physical abuse.[more inside]
Such unhealthy work environments and insufficient pay have led a number of these low-wage women to take matters in to their own hands. Many have formed women-owned worker cooperatives that ensure good pay and healthy working conditions, help women overcome the isolation and vulnerability of domestic work, and empower women to build wealth for themselves, their families, and their communities.