Mónica Ramírez is the triple threat - activist, advocate and attorney – our generation can count on. As the founder and president of Justice for Migrant Women, Mónica’s organization is fighting to eliminate gender-based violence, secure gender equity and educate lawmakers about the types of threats female migrant farmworkers often experience. Her advocacy and powerful initiatives don’t go unnoticed, as many celebrities are well aware of her fighting for the rights of farmworker women. Among them are Wilmer Valderrama and Diane Guerrero, who have both worked closely with the social entrepreneur. “Monica has been a fierce leader who I want to protect at all costs and to elevate at all costs,” Diane tells HOLA! USA.
In addition to women, the attorney’s organization looks for the safety, anti-discrimination and anti-violence for child farm laborers. “We‘ve been working with her for years, but I think that in this moment this conversation of the farmworkers is bigger than it’s ever been because people are looking a lot at these essential jobs,” Wilmer points out. “The nurses, the doctors, the grocery workers, but before all that, there is a farmer picking vegetables who is keeping your mind at ease at home. They’re a big fraction of the ecosystem that creates the harmony we’re somehow engaging in while we’re quarantined, so that’s a big one.
Keep reading to learn more about Mónica’s wonderful initiatives and how you can help your communities as well.
What was the catalyst for becoming so active in all you do: “Growing up, my parents taught me that it was important to be proud of my culture and my family’s history as migrant farmworkers. They also taught me about social justice issues in the US, including problems confronting farmworkers, and the importance of giving back to the community. It was their influence and compassion that inspired me to do my work to educate people about the issues that migrant women face and the steps that are required to provide a safer, equal working environment for them. As I continue this work and push for equality, I always keep my family and culture at the forefront of my mind. It is what grounds me and keeps me centered on my mission.”
How has Justice for Migrant Women grown over the years: “Justice for Migrant Women is the result of my ongoing efforts to tackle the issue of sexual assault against farmworking women. I have scaled this project three times- from a state-based initiative for farmworker women in Florida to a national initiative for farmworker women and other immigrant women workers when I was working as an attorney at Southern Poverty Law Center to its current form- a stand-alone organization for farmworker women and all women who migrate for work.”
What is the best part of forming it and being a part of all the wonderful initiatives you do: “The best part has been all of the relationships and partnerships that I have been able to form with farmworker and other migrant women, as well as the advocates who serve them. It has been so fulfilling to articulate the problems while creating strategies to address the issues and being able to win justice, as well as make change, over the years due to all of our collective efforts.”
What is an uplifting message for the future: “Together, we will win. It is important to me that we remember that progress is possible when we work together to make change. Social change is not a one-person endeavor. It requires us to learn from one another, to teach each other, to show each other our hearts and other ways of seeing the world and to pool our resources to do as much good as possible.”
Who uplifts you: “Farmworker and migrant women; my son with his bright eyes and open heart; and all of my colleagues and friends in the work who work tirelessly to win peace and justice. They all inspire me and give me so much hope.”
Who do you hope to uplift with your organization: “Underserved, passionate and hardworking migrant women, including Black, Afro-Latinx, immigrant and indigenous migrant women, who are far too often misunderstood and underestimated. We aim to uplift them by helping to amplify their voices and by fighting with, for and alongside them for their safety, dignity, and humanity, while also encouraging them to pursue political leadership positions at the city, state, and even federal level where they can be part of creating the change our country needs.”
What are your future goals: “One of our future goals is to ensure that we continue to define who are migrant women workers in our country and all of the ways that they are contributing as essential workers and otherwise. The other is to elevate the voices of rural women, particularly women of color who are leading around the nation.”