16 August 2010

MassCOSH Fights Workplace Harassment Directed at Latinas

Ms. Foundation grantee MassCOSH (Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health) is shining a light on how one particular occupational hazard is impacting Latina women across Massachusetts: sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.

Though it's not the kind of offense you might think of as a typical "occupational hazard" sexual harassment and assault can make going to work a living hell for employees. And in the state of Massachusetts, Latina women -- often working in low wage jobs -- are finding themselves at an increasing risk of having to confront abuse from their employers, who many times target women who lack the resources (both financial and linguistic) to fight back.

In July, MassCOSH took a stand on the issue, in the hopes of bringing this rising trend to an end. They brought together more than twenty local Latina and Brazilian women workers for a workshop designed to empower them with information about sexual harassment -- including how to identify this kind of abuse and how to organize to bring it to a stop.

“In this group, women are free to speak about issues they face in their workplace, with the goal of supporting each other so we can overcome the problem of harassment,” says Isabel Lopez, MassCOSH’s Worker Center Coordinator. MassCOSH also aims to have the women take what they've learned in the workshop and pass along the information by doing outreach and education in their own communities.

This kind of organizing lies at the very heart of the Ms. Foundation's approach to creating a more just and safe world for women, girls and communities. Read more about the work MassCOSH is doing to end the sexual harassment of women in the workplace -- we're exceptionally proud to call them a grantee partner!

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