“One Billion Rising Against the Nuclear Bomb/ Rising for Peace”
by Lina Cabaero
Coordinator – Asian Women at Work Inc/ OBR Sydney Organizers

Asian Women at Work Inc (AWayW) and Migrante Australia-NSW – long time organizers of One Billion Rising Sydney – joined the Women’s March to Ban the Bomb action today in Parramatta to protest against the Australian government’s active opposition to a UN Convention to Ban Nuclear Weapons.

A short program was held outside the office of Defence Minister Marise Payne which interestingly enough is located in a building called Jessie Street Centre. Jessie Street was well-known for her commitment to women’s rights and to world peace.

The 120-strong protesters then marched the streets of Parramatta to Prince Alfred Park – led by the Asian Women at Work Inc Drumming Group – where another short program was held.
Members of Migrante Kultura (the cultural arm of Migrante Australia-NSW then led the Break the Chain One Billion Rising Dance, joined by members of Asian Women at Work Inc.). One Billion Rising against the Nuclear Bomb! One Billion Rising for peace in the world!

The protest concluded with a community singing of “Blowin’ in the Wind”.
WILPF (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom) and ICAN Australia (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) organized the action.

AWatW’s target communities are Asian migrant women workers in low paid and precarious employment across Sydney, including clothing outworkers, clothing factory workers, cleaners, restaurant workers, manufacturing workers, nail and beauty workers, aged care workers, and child care workers. Many workers receive below legal wages and conditions, and many do not speak out about this for fear of losing their job. Bullying and harassment and other work health and safety issues are common. Women in precarious employment often have limited access to government and community services and information due to long hours of work, which also contributes to limited opportunities to learn English. Migrant working women are generally isolated from information and support services by long hours of work in low paid jobs and limited English skills. Bullying and exploitation experienced by many in the workplace reduces their confidence about seeking support. While a common element is their working situations, AWATW are not only responding to their workplace issues, as unions do, but to the full range of issues in their lives. Their unique services involve extensive outreach to these women, including offering services on evenings and on weekends to increase accessibility. From outreach, support groups and seminars, through to leadership development and facilitating their involvement in self-representation and advocacy, AWatW builds on the strengths and responds to the needs of their network of migrant women workers and their families.