This Women’s History Month, I’m reflecting on how care work has made its way through generations of women in my family. I inherited my passion for care work from my grandmother and my mother, two amazing home care workers who dedicated many years to this field. I saw my mom work hard her whole life, holding down three home care jobs and giving her all to her clients. Unfortunately, we never saw that hard work reflected in her wages or working conditions.
For my mother, my grandmother, and for so many of us, this is not just a job. In this work, we form deep relationships with our clients. We support them in vulnerable moments, helping them with showering, cooking, feeding, and changing diapers. We care for people’s loved ones. Our communities know that their aunties, uncles, grandparents, and others are safe in our care.
This is deeply meaningful work and it is in high demand – but our paychecks don’t reflect the hard work we put in. With low wages, lack of benefits, and other challenges, many of us are faced with the choice between staying in a field we love or paying our bills.
Unfortunately, that means the care industry is pushing workers – the majority of us women – out of a field that is essential to keeping our communities running. Without us, the care industry will not be able to sustain providing care for our elders.
As difficult as it was, I personally had to make the decision to leave the care industry. With such low wages, I can’t afford health insurance. If I didn’t live with my mom, I wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in Colorado, the place I call home and have built a community. After giving years of my life to this work, I found myself having to move on.
I know I’m not alone in my goal to change the care industry. Since joining CCWU, I’ve met other care workers who share the same experiences and concerns I do. We know that we can only do that by coming together to advocate for ourselves.
Time and time again, we’ve seen work that is predominantly done by women be undervalued. I want other care workers to know: as workers, we deserve more. As women, we deserve more. If we want to truly honor the labor and contributions of women, we need to change the Colorado care industry.