FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 23, 2024
CONTACT: Daniela Perez, dperez@domesticworkers.
During a panel, NDWA President Ai-jen Poo announced a new storytelling project that aims to amplify the voices of domestic workers in media, emphasizing their role in shaping community and policy.
From left to right: Sindy Sanchez, a dedicated home care worker and NDWA member; Juan Mejia Botero, the director of IGUALADA; Greg Kelly, President of SEIU HCMIIK; Ai-jen Poo, NDWA President; and Paola Mendoza, Executive Producer of IGUALADA, engaging in a panel discussion. The focus: empowering domestic workers to shape their narratives, from pop culture to policy.
PARK CITY, UT – The National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) joined creatives, activists, and leaders at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT, as part of its commitment to elevating the authentic voices of domestic workers in media. At the festival, NDWA joined an insightful panel discussion on authentic domestic worker experiences in film and television and how such representations translate to meaningful policy solutions to improve the lives of domestic workers. In addition to the panel, NDWA announced a storytelling project that will provide creatives with support resources that enables the telling of bold, authentic, and dynamic stories of domestic workers.
The project, “Spotlighting Domestic Workers: A Roadmap for Film and TV,” spanned over a year, bringing together the experiences, voices, and visions of many domestic workers from across the country. The project is a story ecosystem that will accurately reflect domestic workers’ dynamic stories in film and television.
“Spotlighting Domestic Workers: A Roadmap for Film and TV” was announced during a panel discussion, “From Policy to Pop Culture: Domestic Workers Own Their Stories,” that featured NDWA President Ai-jen Poo, NDWA home care worker leader Sindy Sanchez, SEIU Healthcare President for Illinois, Indiana, Missouri & Kansas (HCIIMK) Greg Kelley, and Juan Mejia Botero, director of the documentary “IGUALADA.” Paola Mendoza, executive producer of “IGUALADA,” moderated the discussion.
“IGUALADA,” is a documentary that takes viewers into the life of Francia Elena Márquez Mina, Vice President of Colombia, activist, and former domestic worker who has spent her life and career defying assumptions and challenging the status quo. The film made its Sundance debut in the World Cinema Documentary Competition on Sunday, January 21. Botero, the film’s director, discussed the importance of sharing Vice President Márquez’s story and analyzed the intimate relationship between filmmaking, culture, and policy change.
Poo recognized the transformative power of storytelling in NDWA’s advocacy work, referencing the organization’s previous collaboration with award-winning films like ‘ROMA’ and shows such as ‘Maid.’
“Domestic work is the work that makes all the other work possible, but it is some of the most insecure and unprotected work in our society today and very much undervalued,” Poo shared. “Representing domestic worker experiences on screen is about whole human beings with incredibly complex and rich stories that teach us a lot about who we are. Telling our stories accurately and with nuance is essential because our culture’s perception of care profoundly influences our experience on the ground.”
Sanchez, a home care worker and NDWA member leader whose story was critical in the recent passage of the New Jersey Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, shared her experience as a care worker, organizer, and immigrant. Sanchez, who is Afro-Honduran, drew parallels between Vice President Márquez’s journey as an Afro-Colombian leader in her community.
“In my country, I faced challenges due to limited resources. Here, as a home care worker, immigrant, and Afro-Latina, my struggle has been different but just as intense. I have experienced days without rest, discrimination, lack of job security, and more – which motivated me to fight for our rights,” Sanchez shared. “My experience as a doctor in Honduras enriched my focus on caring for others. Despite the long hours and lack of rest, I have found love and satisfaction in my work. Caring for others, understanding their needs, and making them feel less lonely is a beautiful and rewarding aspect of my work.”
Sanchez continued, ‘We face discrimination, mistreatment, and unique challenges, especially as immigrants and women of color. But our story is one of resistance and hope. I will continue to fight for a more just future and the recognition we deserve as workers and as dedicated and compassionate human beings.” She further shared how her mother was also a home care worker but had to retire due to an injury she sustained while on the job. Now, Sanchez balances her role between caring for her patients, her mother, and her four children, thereby highlighting the nuanced, dynamic, and multifaceted roles domestic workers experience daily.
This critical conversation emphasized how domestic workers, the majority of whom are women of color, are at the forefront of the modern labor movement. The domestic worker movement intersects with various issues like racial equality, labor rights, and gender equity, all of which are crucial for shaping our shared future. The panel highlighted the rich history and diverse experience of domestic workers and how their personal narratives are not only vital in ensuring authenticity to on-screen portrayals but also tools for policy changes.
There are more than 2 million domestic workers in the United States – the nannies who take care of our children, the housecleaners who bring order to our homes, and the home care workers who ensure older adults and disabled people can live with dignity and agency as they receive care in their homes.
Domestic workers do the work that makes all other work possible, and yet, despite decades of organizing, they lack the protections, respect, dignity, and wages they deserve. Telling the authentic and complex stories of historically underrepresented communities has never been more critical, and domestic workers sit at the intersection of the most pressing social issues of our time – from immigration to labor rights to gender and racial justice.
NDWA’s presence at the Sundance Film Festival extends beyond the panel discussion, encompassing various activities and collaborations to raise awareness about the challenges and contributions of domestic workers like Vice President Márquez, Sindy Sanchez, and more. By integrating these lived experiences into policy and storytelling, NDWA sets a precedent for a more inclusive, respectful, and realistic portrayal of domestic workers, ensuring their impact and significance are recognized across all platforms.