Award Recipients - 2001

Gulnahar Alam

Gulnahar Alam co-founded Andolan (Organizing South Asian Workers) to organize immigrant workers, primarily domestic service workers, from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.  Thousands of such workers enter the United States yearly to work for diplomats and wealthy citizens who reside mainly in the New York and Washington D.C. areas.  South Asian women predominate in domestic service where long hours and low pay without benefits characterize the industry.  Formed in 1998, Andolan, which means “movement,” seeks to educated workers about their rights, persuade employers to pay a living wage and raise public awareness about abusive industry conditions.  All Andolan members are women and domestic workers; many are undocumented.  
Andolan’s principal strategy is to bring lawsuits against abusive employers.  Claims range from violations of federal and state minimum wage laws, to sexual harassment and abuse, assault and false imprisonment; successful cases have results in back pay and other settlements.  Andolan is also part of a campaign with other groups seeking federal law protections regarding overtime pay, health and sexual harassment for live-in workers and minimum compensations of $11 per hour.  Given the power disparity between the employer and worker, Andolan also organizes protest outside employers’ home and workplaces to get response to specific grievances and to raise public awareness.

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