More than 19 million women live in rural America, comprised of individuals of many diverse backgrounds, including Latina, Indigenous and Native, Black, and Asian women and women of other races and ethnicities. Most rural and migrant women in the United States live in poverty, face persistent inequality, and lack the services and the protections that they need to live healthy and whole lives. Political leaders often perceive rural America as white and monolithic, with blanket solutions that do not fix their complex issues. There has been an overall lack of investment in civic engagement efforts geared toward rural America.
Despite these barriers, there are many opportunities to see that these communities are represented by specifically focusing on empowering and engaging women. This is why Justice for Migrant Women created a rural civic engagement initiative, aiming to increase the political representation and power of rural women and girls across the United States with a focus on elevating the leadership of women of color and other underrepresented community members. Through Rural Women Rising, Justice for Migrant Women is working to build power for women across women’s rights, economic justice, immigrant rights, civil rights and civil liberties. We employ a range of tactics to accomplish our mission, including grassroots organizing, training, community education, narrative and culture shift work, direct service, and policy and advocacy initiatives.
Meet fellow women from across Ohio who want to become more civically engaged, as well as women who are already leading in our community. Topics include how your personal experiences have prepared you for leadership, how government works and why it matters in your life, how to mobilize others to vote, how to get appointed to a public board or commission, and how to run for office. Click here to register.
Justice for Migrant Women engages migrant and rural women throughout the policymaking process—from setting shared priorities and collaboratively developing proposed solutions, to celebrating progress and wins together. We consistently have migrant and rural women speak directly to decision-makers and bring their first-person testimony to elected and appointed officials. Currently, our top priorities are ending workplace sexual violence, addressing workplace mental health, and achieving pay equity.
Whether virtual or in-person, a small meeting with congressional staffers or a large summit, J4MW consistently ensures that our constituency is actively present and contributing to our federal advocacy efforts. In 2023, we supported three delegations of migrant and rural women from across the nation to come to Washington, D.C., to meet with leaders in the White House, Congress, and key agencies such as the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Delegations in March, May, and September 2023 included over 30 participants.
Most recently, our September delegation included 20 women from eight states, many of whom were new to national advocacy. They spoke to educate officials about the intersections of pay equity, workers’ mental health, and protections from harassment and gender-based violence while on-the-job, and to share their own lived experience with these challenges. In addition to meeting with members of Congress, we organized a briefing on Capitol Hill focused on health and safety in the workplace, attended by key congressional staffers and partners, hosted in both English and Spanish. We also hosted a listening session with the DOL as part of our ongoing work with the Women’s Bureau to make sure that migrant and rural women’s issues are prioritized.
Opportunities such as these DC delegations strengthen migrant and rural women’s skills as agents of change, build solidarity and camaraderie, and deepen their commitment to continued advocacy.